We agonise a lot about the directions we choose. Career. Relationship. Religion. Whatever it is we choose to worry about, we seem intent on complicating the process of living, so that we can’t just be at peace with what’s in front of our eyes.
To a certain extent this is understandable. A certain amount of planning is necessary. You plan, when you walk along the street, not to walk into lamp posts, and so you look ahead, and modify your trajectory. In the same way, I guess we plan our work and home lives in order to avoid obstacles.
But what those obstacles might be, is a matter of debate. I wanted to speak briefly about a few apparent obstacles, whch might not be the blocks we think they are.
THE NEED FOR MONEY
Money requirements affect a lot of people’s decisions, and I am not going to insult anyone by pretending to know their particular situation.
However, I will share one of the most useful thought patterns I have experienced on the subject of money. It is to do with your cost base. Essentially, if you have no cost base, then you have no requirement for money. What most of us do, is to grow our spending to just above what we earn. We can’t help it. But the effect of that, is to tie us in to a requirement to keep earning a certain amount in order to sustain ourselves.
Not many people are able to dramatically reduce their cost base. It is partly the result of our economic system, which is designed to keep us ‘productive’, and uses avarice as a motivator. Things we want are advertised to us, we commit to them, and we then have to earn to make up the difference.
So, logically, to reduce the pressure on ourselves, we need, perhaps, to reduce our susceptibility to avarice. We need to want things less. Then we can begin the process of being less reliant on a perpetual circle of high earning.
THE NEED FOR STATUS OR RECOGNITION
Obviously everyone reading this will consider themselves an exception to the rule I am about to cite. The rule is that everyone is a victim of their own pride, and keeps doing things largely because they don’t want to lose face.
As I say, obviously you’re the exception. Obviously you do what you do totally altruistically, and there is no quest for status involved.
But for those ‘other’ people, who rely on pride, I have a suggestion. Remember that you are going to die anyway, and that in millions of years’ time no one will remember you anyway. So get over yourself, and start to live in a way which seems to you to bring happiness to you and those around you.
You don’t actually need status, badges, recognition, labels. If you can get rid of this need, then you can be liberated from the need to find a direction. Probably, you are only looking for a direction because you want to be able to answer people when they say ‘what do you do?’ or ‘what are your plans?’
When you have no need for status or recognition, you will have no need to answer that question – nor to take on work you don’t like in order to satisfy the social transaction.
My basic suggestion to you is that, for a while at least, you drop the idea of direction. By all means look out for the lamp posts, but, apart from that, perhaps liberate yourself by settling into a life which has a low cost base, and does not depend on the retention of status. It may even be that, in the long run, this helps you find a truer direction.
I am arguing against the economic imperative of most western economies, so I don’t expect a yes. But I can always hope.
We agonise about the direction our life is taking. Often, these deliberations are driven by the perceived need for money, and the unconsciously perceived need for status. Both are, in the long run, self-obstructive and futile. So perhaps be less hard on yourself, and don’t beat yourself up about not having a fully worked-out direction. Economies may end up poorer; but the people who make up those economies may be happier.