Monday, May 5, 2014

Not Quite The Advice You Wanted

I have a friend who is about sixteen years younger than me.  We have the most interesting conversations because we come from such disparate backgrounds, yet we have a lot of things in common, especially personality types. He often comes to me for advice about things because for some reason he believes that I have all my shit together. He couldn't be further from the truth and I tell him as much, but he still wants to know my perspective regarding how he should handle certain situations. So I try my best to give him my honest opinion.  It generally all boils down to me telling him that he's young yet and as life progresses he'll gain a better understanding of what he should do.  Advice is helpful on occasion, but it doesn't replace learning lessons on your own.

Currently, he's been agitated about the direction of his life and concerned about his level of motivation and dedication regarding work that he'd rather not do.  He wanted me to write about how to motivate oneself to work harder, to graciously accept responsibilities and obligations, to be happy with what is. I could do that, write a general article about motivation, but I think his problem is something deeper than just motivation.

 He's having what I would consider a quarter-life crisis.  I don't think he's particularly happy with his current situation and feels somewhat trapped by his circumstances.  Even though many people would find his circumstances enviable as he has a career with room for growth, financial security, and strong familial and religious ties, he's unsatisfied with his life because he's not in charge of it.  This dissatisfaction manifests itself in seeking constant distractions, a lack of concentration and follow-through, and a general sense of ennui. Even though he'd never admit it, I think he might be a little depressed. I've been there, done that, and bought more than one t-shirt. I know the signs.

I don't think he'll listen to the advice I am going to give him.  I don't know that he's ready to hear it, and even if he is, he's definitely not ready to act upon it, but I'm going to give it to him anyway.  In order for him to be happier, more focused, motivated and productive, he has to figure out what he really wants to do with his life. He needs to prioritize what is most important and then regardless of whomever it displeases, act upon attaining those things.  He is caught at a crossroads of sorts.  If he chooses to go after what he really wants to do, something creative, dynamic, and ultimately self-satisfying, he will disappoint those people in his life whom he loves most.  They have a different agenda and timeline they believe he should follow.  I think he should do what he wants.

One thing I've learned over the course of my life is that if a person spends his time pleasing everyone but himself, no one gets their happy ending. Devoting one's energy to making sure everyone else is content leaves very few resources to ensuring one's own contentment.  Unhappy people cannot create lasting joy for others if they themselves aren't happy. Discontent will manifest in a variety of ways even though people try their damndest to reconcile what they are doing with what they actually want, and everyone feels it and sees it.

My advice is that he needs not to fear the consequences of choosing his own way.  The people who love us generally just want us to be happy, productive and satisfied.  They eventually get over not being in charge or being disappointed when they see the positive end result.  He needs to have faith in his own ability to  make wise and sound decisions regarding the trajectory of his life.  He needs the courage to live it as he sees fit, incorporating those things that work, removing those things that don't and discovering new elements that will add positively to it.  Looking back, I have instances in my life where I would have done things differently.  I would have made decisions based solely on my own interests and needs as opposed to doing those things I knew would please others. If I had, my life might have been quite different in regard to my personal levels of satisfaction and my levels of confidence.  So, instead of motivational advice for doing things you don't want to do, I hope he accepts this heartfelt advice on living an authentic life where he's happy and where it's his satisfaction with life, rather than his acquiescence to others' desires that make the people in his life happy too.

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