How do you find your life purpose and choose a career?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life purpose since the realisation that I chose the wrong path in terms of my career. A couple of weeks ago I got an idea of what I wanted to do instead, and it didn’t take me long to get things moving. I found a programme at the local University, asked around for internships and even managed to get an interview with two people who are working in that particular field. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into before I decide to apply for two more years of school. It all seemed great and I was super excited. But surprise surprise, I’m starting to doubt the whole thing now.

The applications aren’t open yet, so I haven’t made an official decision. I’m afraid that this is going to be another bad turn. When talking to the two professionals I got the sense that one of them wasn’t very happy with his job, and the reasons for it are reasons that I know will bug me as well. It’s an administrative job, often controlled by other decision-making people, and everything has to go through them. Me being a person who needs control and has an issue with authorities, might have a problem with such a business structure.

But I need money, I need to make a living, and this job would mean a steady income. That is, if I actually get a job after the studies. Cause you never know. The statistics are looking pretty okay at the moment, but a lot can change in two years. Including my mental state and feelings towards this line of work. The whole reason why I came up with the idea in the first place is because I was searching the internet for jobs that suit my introvert personality. I found this profession interesting and “easy” enough to work with my anxiety problems. But is that really the right way to go? Am I settling for less than I actually want out of life?

I’ve always wanted to have my own business. To do great things that people will acknowledge. I wanted to help and change people’s lives. I still do. But I’m not well and have no energy to attempt something greater right now. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Maybe I’m just afraid of failure? Or stressed out about the whole money situation. Having your own business can be very rewarding on a personal level, but the money won’t exactly pile up the first couple of years. It’s tough, and you need to be mentally prepared to stick with it, even when business is bad. I guess the key is to start a business you’re really passionate about, and where you can see a sustainable future. I don’t know what kind of business that would be, and as excited as I was for that new path I started exploring, I think I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

But then again, do we ever find what we are looking for? I think we’re all just lost souls searching for something we believe will make us happy. But happiness isn’t around the corner, it’s right here. Even if I don’t feel it all the time, I know it’s here. To me it’s not the happiness I seek, it’s the meaning. A greater belonging. A sense of fulfilment. One of my greatest fears is being basic. Wow, I’ve never actually thought of it that way… That’s exactly my problem.

I feel like this is beginning to sound like a therapy session, so I’m going to end it right here. Please comment if you have any thoughts on this. Are you also afraid of not living up to your full potential? Have you found the right path? How do you know what you are supposed to do with your life? Do you just focus on surviving and providing for your family? Is your career important to you?

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Carpe that f-ing diem – And other harmful ideas to live by

I used to believe that inspirational quotes about seizing the day, living your dream and whatnot, was a good way to keep motivated. Not that I put them on my walls or reposted them on my social media, but you know, every now and then I might have liked one that someone posted. But when you get ill, really ill, these ideas of how you should live your life just makes you feel worse. Nobody wants to hear “carpe diem!” when they’re suffering from severe depression.

I’ve spent the last week on the couch. Crying, staring out into the void, incapable of functioning like a normal person. I wasn’t even a person, I was just a body with a person trapped inside. I’ve wasted what could be precious days of my life, not seizing the day. Not working towards my goals. Not being the best that I can be. Not visualising my dreams or helping others.

But it’s not just quotes about living in the moment that get to you. You know that quote by Mark Twain; “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”? I often think about that by imagining myself as an old person lying in a hospital bed, reminiscing about the past. I image what my thoughts will be, if I’ll be happy with what I’ve accomplished by that time, if I’ll have any regrets. And I always feel bad about the countless days, weeks, months, years I’ve spend doing nothing because of depression, anxiety or just pure laziness. And this idea of future regret is dangerous. It’s making us focus our mind on future happiness and how we can attain it, which often makes us feel less of a person until we get there.

We need to remember that it’s okay to have bad days too. As long as those bad ones aren’t more frequent than the good or okay ones. We can’t all be living life to the fullest every single day. If you strive towards this you’ll end up disappointed. Trust me.

Here are some more realistic ideas to think about:

1. This too shall pass

I know, when you’re deep in despair it’s hard to see clearly and believe that it will ever get better. But it does. Sometimes it just takes longer. And better does not have to mean you are up and running, living up to your full potential. Better can mean getting out of bed, smiling at a stupid joke your partner made or taking a shower. Celebrate every step and give yourself some credit.

2. Appreciate the small things

Every day I am grateful for my home, my plants, my friends and my boyfriend. I take time to actually appreciate what I have. Sometimes all it takes is having potatoes for dinner, or when I ask the boyfriend to bring me some tea, and he brings me exactly the kind I was secretly hoping for.

3. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery

I am currently reading “The Power of Now”, and the most important thing I’ve learned so far is this. I spend way too much time thinking about what’s been and what will come, but the truth is that today, this moment right here, is all there is. The past cannot change, and the future is just an illusion. Think about it. No living person (physically) lives in the past, it’s impossible. So visiting the past with your mind and reliving painful moments is like spending your time at a graveyard, talking to ghosts. And you can chase the future as fast as you want, but you’ll never catch it. You will always be in the present. So try to let the illusion of time go for a moment and focus on how you are feeling right now. I’m not telling you to “seize the day”, but realise that you exist only in the present moment, and what you do with that is totally up to you.

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A neurotic minimalist’s guide to conscious shopping – How to reduce your consumption

conscious shopping

Conscious shopping might be a term you’re already familiar with if you’re interested in sustainability and the three Rs; reduce, reuse & recycle. I started researching this the last couple of years as my interest in environmental issues grew stronger. In this post I’ll only be talking about the minimalist part of conscious shopping, which is mainly about reducing and reusing.

I try to live a minimalistic life as much as possible. Mostly because of the clarity and peace that comes with not owning too much stuff. A messy apartment filled with junk gives me so much anxiety that I can’t get things done. It brings down my mood. So the perfect solution would be to simply not buy anything, right? Well, sadly I’m also the kind of person who needs things to be sorted and finished right away. Getting rid of things is great, it actually brings me joy. But sometimes getting rid of things that are broken or worn out means you need to replace it at some point. And wanting to be more organised sometimes requires an item or solution you don’t have. And this, this feeling of not being completely finished with the spring cleaning or organisation is something I just can’t deal with. I’m impatient when it comes to my home. Which makes me buy things more often than I can afford. Which isn’t very minimalistic. Or economic.

minimalism

Minimalism to me is not just owning what I need. Because let’s be honest here, I don’t actually NEED to have four pillows on the couch, a ton of plants and 12 identical coffee cups. These things however gives me more comfort, joy and enables me to invite all of my friends for coffee. The items themselves don’t have much value to me (except for the plants of course), but the things they represent are very important in my life (comfort, joy and friendships). Which is why the items are essential in my home.

But it’s difficult to find a balance and to establish the things that are important and the ones that aren’t. So here’s a quick list I use whenever I’m thinking of buying something and I want to make a conscious choice.

1. The purpose of the purchase

Have you thought about the item for a while, or is it just something you saw at a friend’s house, on Instagram or in the store you just happened to walk into? Is this something that will make your life easier, better or in some other way improve your situation? Is this something you WANT, something you NEED or both?

Sometimes when we need something, in my case an orginised home, we buy the cheapest, first thing we can find that does the job and gives us instant gratification. But after a while we realise it doesn’t give us any joy, and we ask ourselves why we didn’t think it through. Don’t just buy what you need. Wait until you find an item of need that you actually want.

2. Will I use this item? And if so, how often?

We’ve all been there. Buying something because you were having that themed party, because it was on sale or because you were having an anxiety attack over how unhealthy you are and how everything we eat is basically poison, so you just had to buy a juice mixer. And then you use it once, or never, and it just sits in the deepest corner of that cupboard in the kitchen that you never open. The best advice I’ve ever heard on this is to write down every time you find yourself needing this item. Keep track of how many times a month you’d wanna reach for it if you had it, and then ask yourself if it’s worth buying. This brings me to the next question.

3. Do I already have an item resembling this one, or an item I can use instead of this?

For example, I might want to get a sandwich grill. A sandwich grill might make it easier for me to make grilled sandwiches, but I might as well make them in my small oven or in a pan. Go back to (reasonable) basics and be creative! I currently use a flower pot for our washed cutlery. I made a hanging organizer for our cleaning closet with some scrap fabrics I found. And I reuse glass jars for grains, leftovers and sometimes for plants. Making something with my hands also gives me a break from worrying, it’s very therapeutic.

minimalist hack

4. Is this something I can borrow?

A lot of sources tell you to buy things from thrift stores instead of buying them new, but what’s even better is not buying them at all. If this is something you’re only gonna use once or every once in a while, like a screwdriver, just ask someone you know if you can borrow theirs. I know this is difficult when you, like me, have issues asking for help. If this is the case, just look up rental services. Libraries don’t just hold books nowadays. Some have tools and even everyday clothes for rent. If you can’t find a local tool rental, think about asking the library or some local shop if this is something they might consider. There is a shop here in the south of Sweden that started a free tool pool, and it’s been very successful.

5. Am I really being honest with myself here?

Nobody wins if you lie to yourself. Let’s be real. If you’ve come this far and still think you need the item, ask yourself all of the questions above once more. I usually go through the questions like 10 times even if it’s just a pair of jeans I’m thinking of getting. Think of everything as an investment. Hopefully you’re gonna have this item for a very long time, will you still love it in 3 years?

 

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