Sometimes we feel like we have no purpose, and this is really painful. Human beings need purpose. We need to feel like we have something special that we share with the world.
Given this need, it is understandable why we suffer painful feelings when we think we aren’t good at anything. For example, we may feel discouraged or depressed when we feel like we don’t have special any talent or when we feel like other people are so much better at the talent we do have.
Feelings like this can cause us to get stuck in No Man’s Land in which we don’t know what we are doing with our life, or in which we feel like our life doesn’t matter. We all get stuck in No Man’s Land sometimes, but it is a depressing place to hang out for long.
I have a path I take when I want to escape from No Man’s Land. Perhaps this path will work for you, or perhaps you will discover another path yourself, and you can share it with people in the future.
By the way, it may help you to have a journal or piece of paper and a writing utensil to help you walk this path.
A Path Out of No Man’s Land
First Stop: Heed the Quiet Calling
You have something inside you that is calling you to adventure. It stirs a dream or a desire or passion in you. It kindles excitement about a goal or project you want to do.
Listen to that calling. Don’t censor it right now. Don’t worry if whether you are good at the thing you want to do. Don’t worry if it is practical or what people will think. Just listen to the quiet calling.
Write: In your journal or on your piece of paper, list one to three goals or passions you hear when you listen to the Quiet Calling (I will refer to them as goals henceforth). These are goals which, in achieving them, will help you contribute something meaningful both to you and to the world.
Next Stop: Make a Choice
You have listed one to three goals. Choose one that excites you the most or that you feel most inclined to do.
You may fear choosing one goal because you worry you are making the wrong choice. But try not to worry too much about “the right choice”–if you act with the intention of love (i.e. acting to bring more goodness into the world and into your life), you are making the right choice.
You may also fear choosing because you worry that you close the door to other opportunities by making a choice. It is true that saying “yes” to one thing often entails saying “no” to other things. It’s okay to feel sad that you can’t pursue every possible opportunity. This is part of being human.
If you can, however, consider The Choice in this way: By making a choice and pursuing a goal, it is like you are planting yourself so that you can grow. Not choosing at all is kind of like letting yourself forever stay a seed in a seed package. In the package, you are full of potential but have no opportunity to thrive or find your purpose
You are making the right choice to plant yourself. If you decide later you need to replant yourself in another location (i.e. so you can pursue another goal), that is okay.
Write: What goal would you like to pursue? Again, don’t worry about whether it is possible or what people will think. Just choose the goal you feel the most excited about or towards which you feel the most inclined.
Next Stop: Climb the Stairs
Congrats on choosing a goal you want to pursue. That is exciting and brave.
Your goal is in the distance and may feel abstract to you, but you can do it. You just need to start climbing stairs in the right direction.
Think of five to ten steps you can take to pursue the goal you have chosen. These are stairs you can climb towards your goal. You don’t have to feel like you are good at these steps, and you don’t have to know every step you must take to reach your goal. Just list five to ten steps that seem to you like they would help you reach your goal.
Write: What are five to ten steps you could take to pursue your goal?
Next Stop: Fortify with Courage
I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that as you start climbing stairs towards your goal, you are going to feeling uncomfortable sometimes. You are going to feel awkward and like you don’t know what you are doing. And you may wonder if you chose the right goal. You may also wonder if you are cut out for climbing all the stairs it takes to get to your goal. And you may sometimes feel like you are never going to reach your goal.
The good news is that if you know that all of these feelings are normal, and if you keep taking steps in the right direction, you will keep getting closer to your goal; you will learn new things on your journey; you will become a new and better and larger version of yourself; and you will reach your destination (or you will decide you need to start another journey, which is okay, too.)
Write: Write three to five things you want to remember about your journey towards your goal that will help you be courageous when times are difficult? You can write them in your journal or write them on note cards and put them in a place where you can see them.
If you can’t think of anything to help build your courage, here are five peaceful thoughts you can write in your journal or on note cards to give you courage:
I take one step at a time and one day at a time. And I am persistent.
I have unconditional worth, even when I struggle and feel awkward sometimes.
And I accept mistakes and failures as a part of the learning process, and I learn from each step I take.
I know some painful feelings are a part of growth, and I welcome painful feelings as temporary companions on my journey.
And I have infinite resources of wisdom, kindness, compassion, and creativity. I continually draw on the resources in my journey.
I rest and care for myself when I need to, and then I keep going. I am resilient.
Next Stop: Avoid “Static Thinking Bog”
At one point in your journey out of No Man’s Land, you may fall into a bog called “Static Thinking.” Static Thinking is the thinking we exhibit when we believe that where we are today is where we will be for the rest of our life, and where we are today is hopeless.We fall into this bog when we start believing these things:
One: We are either good at something or we are not good at it.
Two: Only people who are naturally and flawlessly good at things are worthy people.
Three: If we fail, make mistakes, or are initially bad at something, this means we are not naturally good at things, and we are not worthy people.
It is tempting to believe all of these things when we pursue a new goal. It is especially tempting when we look around and see other people who seem to pursue their goals effortlessly.