What You Waiting For?
If only we all had a fairy godmother. With a wand. And a “bibbidi bobbidi boo.” Magically, our lives could change and our problems would disappear.
But, alas, we’re not all Cinderella. And, our lives will not transform in the blink of an eye.
Unfortunately, though, we’ve engrained this “magical moment” storyline into our thinking. Many of the stories we know by heart are built on this idea. That life has a magical moment. A point in time in which all things fall into place.
But, truthfully, that’s not the way life actually works. Our lives are more like slow-moving roller coasters. Ups, downs, twists, and turns.
Your transition into life after high school will be no different. You won’t have a magical moment in which, completely out of nowhere, your talent gets seen, or your work goes viral, or you get offered a scholarship.
When this truth collides with that fairy tale, look out. That’s a difficult point in life. And, you will hit that point.
It happens to everyone. We’re too willing to look at other peoples’ lives and see Cinderella stories. Then we look back at our own and we can’t understand why our fairy godmother hasn’t yet arrived.
Or perhaps, even worse, we fall into a pattern of “lottery ticket” thinking. We work at something, no real strategy or plan, and we think that it will all just come together at the right moment. Like playing the lottery for years, hoping one day you hit the jackpot.
This way of thinking happens to nearly everyone at some point too. It’s just a way to protect ourselves. We don’t take any real action. We don’t want to risk failure or rejection. So, we put our faith in luck.
This same thing could be happening to you. Right now.
Let’s say you’re having trouble figuring out what comes next for you. After high school. But, you can’t seem to make any real progress toward a decision.
Maybe you do a little research. Look at some college brochures. Talk to your friends. But, you just keep putting it off. You don’t have answers to other people’s questions. You avoid these conversations with teachers. You always find something more important to think about or do.
Is it possible that you’re waiting for an answer to magically appear? Or, that you’re hoping that today will be the day you’ll finally figure it out?
Seriously. Take a minute and think about it. Be honest with yourself. What’s holding you back from making a decision? From formulating a plan? From uttering out loud what you really want to do?
If your answer sounds anything like Fairy Godmother or Lottery Ticket thinking, then know this. That’s okay. It happens to every single one of us at some point in our lives. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just recognize it. Accept it. Then, start taking some action.
What action? Well, start by understanding that decisions like this are more incremental than big. It’s not one big decision. It’s lots of little decisions.
So, take a step back. Look at the big picture. Look at all your options.
For instance, let’s say you’re on the fence about college. Not sure if that’s what you want. Yes, I know. Everyone around you is telling you that is what you’re supposed to want. Well, you’re not everyone else. You’re you.
So, start by thinking about all the options in addition to college. Work. Military. Or, what about community college? Explore those options. Looking at options is not deciding against college. All you’re doing is asking questions. Doing research. Then you can start making smaller decisions by ruling things out. Start with the decisions you can make with more certainty. What don’t you want?
Or, maybe those around you say that the Army is what’s next for you. That it’s in your bloodline. Not sure about that? Don’t get stuck waiting on magic or chance, take action. Explore the other options. Explore other branches of the military. Think about work. Or college. Figure out what’s a clear “No.” And, why.
By looking at the biggest possible picture and ruling things out, you can start to formulate an idea of what you do want. And, why. Break down what you thought was one decision and start making smaller ones. You’ll gain momentum through action.
The bottom line is this. Life’s problems don’t get solved through the magic of wands or the luck of the lottery. Problems get solved step by step. Bit by bit. Using what you already know to discover what you don’t. Kind of like math.
And, for some of us, deciding what to do after high school. Figuring out what we want our future to hold is really a problem. Not a joy. Or a celebration. But a real problem that we wish someone or something else would just solve.
But, it’s a problem only you can solve. And, you’ll want to solve. For you. Magic and luck aren’t coming to save the day. You’re gonna do that. One small decision at a time.