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Don’t know what we want your life to look like just yet? Don’t sweat it

Two women standing on a bridge overlooking a river contemplating life choices.

When you’re a kid, everyone asks you what you want to be when you grow up? They’re all supportive of your dreams, even when you declare being the first person on Mars is the career choice for you. But as you get older, people stop asking and just start assuming your life plan is signed, sealed and moments away from being delivered.

But that’s not always the case, is it? Sometimes our lives don’t go to plan, or we don’t even have a clue what we want that plan to look like. Know what we mean? If so, don’t sweat it. We’re here to tell you that it’s 3000% okay not to have a clean cut plan, and what to do about it…

Straight up, let’s address the elephant in the room: other people. Usually it’s other people’s standards and ideals that make us feel like we’re falling behind in life. Your parents grew up in a time different to you where getting married in your twenties and having the ‘kids thing’ done by 30 was normal.

That’s been pushed back 10-15 years for millennials, or isn’t on the cards at all, and it’s created an internal struggle for a lot of us, making us think we’re not doing life right. Plus, guess what, if you have children, their ‘normal’ won’t look like yours either, so it’s best to be accepting and flexible when it comes to life goals.

Now let’s take that flexible mindset and apply it to our own hopes and dreams. Outside of what other people want for us, most of us have a big, hairy, exciting, quivery-feeling-in-your-tummy goal that you’re working towards, right? And if you’re not there, panic ensues! But wait up, because it’s OKAY. If you are in your twenties, nay, whenever, you do NOT have to be at the doorstep of your life’s dream.

In fact, you don’t even have to have the steps to get there. Not being locked down to a path leaves you open to the twists and turns of life, ready to grab any new opportunity that comes along and also to change your mind. It’s a brand new phenomenon, but you are actually allowed to change your mind about something. Yep, even if you made a commitment, invested time or posted about it on Facebook. You are not the same person you were at 18, so what makes you think you will be at 38?

Speaking of social media, comparison seems to be one of the leading causes of people having an Early Life Crisis. On Instagram, you see a girl you knew in primary school’s $200k wedding to a Ryan Gosling lookalike, also knowing that just last week she got the coolest promotion at work AND she has a puppy that wears sweaters. What are you doing wrong to not have a life like that? Fact: nothing.

When you start comparing yourself to others and listing the have’s and have not’s, ask yourself if those things would even bring you true happiness? Do they support your goals? And do you even want what that person has right now? Probably not (also $200k seems excessive).

And finally it all boils down to ‘wants’. We say wants and not needs because if we’re being super honest with ourselves, most of our dream life scenarios are nice to have’s (unlike water and shelter). How do you want to spend your life? What is the ‘perfect’ life for you?

You might not want to get married, have kids or become CEO of something boring. You might want to travel, start a charity or coach the Under 9’s team forever. And maybe you know what you want but don’t have it yet. Maybe you don’t have your dream job, maybe you have a great one but want to pursue that niggling passion for writing. The best part is YOU get to choose and all you ‘need’ to do is not stress out about the timing for that to happen.

In summary, life is a bit like a game of snakes and ladders. You can plan as much as you like but at the end of the day, it’s a roll of the dice. You have to have the courage to keep going forward and climbing those ladders when they come along until you get to the top, look around and realise that you’re exactly where you needed to be all along.

Two people riding in a tuk-tuk at night contemplating life choices.