Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 175: Finding My Own North Star

Since I can remember, when I've wanted something, I've gone after it. Sometimes I've been successful, other times I haven't, but I've always been able to identify what i wanted, and put an action plan in place to go after it. In high school, I was working to get to college. In college, I was working for a degree and a good job.

Now that I've landed the good job, I've reached this point of, "Ok, so what now?"

I have a feeling that's partly why I started this blog. To give myself a goal to work towards.

But Project 29 to 30 aside, lately I've been sort of going through the motions of my life. Unsure of what I want, therefore unsure of what to do about it. Do I move? Do I stay? Is the job that I'm doing what I should be doing? Or would something else suit me better?

My mom always tells me, "When you're not sure what to do, don't do anything."

I understand her advice, and her fear that in a moment of uncertainty I could make a hasty decision that I'd later regret. But following this advice and doing nothing has left me sort of drifting without any true direction.

Right now, my only goals are trying new things, being happy, and having fun.

Don't get me wrong, I think those three are all good goals to have for life. But contrary to popular belief, and much to my dismay, I'm not the free-spirit that can exist comfortably with these goals alone.

I need something to work towards, and I'd like to find what it is that I'm meant to do for forever.
I shared my desire, and lack of direction, with an old friend at Ashley's baby shower on Day 167 . She smiled and said, ''I know exactly how you feel.''

Then she recommended a book called Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck. She said it was an easy read and could definitely help me start making the right moves to getting to where I want to go.

So I bought it and on Day 175, the thing I've never done before was to read a self-help book.

The book starts off pretty standard. Beck tells stories about real-life characters who were also going through the motions of life. Not unhappy people, necessarily, just uninspired ones who seem unsure of what their purpose is.

I liked reading their stories and I could certainly relate to how they feel. I'm not unhappy, either. Far from it. I just often wonder if I'd be happier somewhere else, doing something else. Is that the dreaded "grass is always greener" syndrome, or do I just need some more direction?

I read on, hopeful that Martha Beck would make things crystal clear for me.

I thought I'd be able to see where she was headed, but soon into the book, Beck starts asking me a lot of personal questions about the things that make me happy, the things that cause me embarrassment and the people who make me feel uncomfortable. The book went from straight text to worksheets I had to fill out.

Worksheets? Come on, Beck! Truthfully, I don't have time to fill out worksheets, or time to devote to thinking about the last time I was embarrassed or people that make me feel badly about myself. I have a life to lead! New things to try! A blog to write!

I was more hoping for an approach of, "Just read this, follow its instructions and your life will instantly improve."

On the other hand, the questions she poses are quite thought-provoking and the point that she's ulitmately trying to make (I think, I still haven't finished the book), is that we do a lot of things in our lives because we feel like we have to, not because we want to and not because we should. Identifying, and eliminating those situations is vital to becoming more of our true self.

Beck also asks readers to "Think about the last time you did something for hours and hours without noticing and then looked up and realized you'd completely lost track of time."

Losing track of time isn't something I have the luxury of doing very often, but I smiled thinking about the times, especially lately, when I've done it: talking on the phone with a new guy (I know, this is 13-year old behavior but I love it), traveling (I've enjoyed getting lost in cities all over the world), and, believe it or not, writing.

How might I combine all of these things that make me lose track of time into my own North Star? A travel writer/phone sex operator? I highly doubt that's where Beck is headed in her message, but wouldn't that be awesome?

Doing something new everyday and writing about it is a lot of work. It's like a second job (I'm currently in Panama, for example, writing from vacation). But I have truly enjoyed it and know that I will see it through until the end proud of completing the challenge I set for myself. Perhaps it's stupid, but I like writing about my life and I love even more feeling that I've connected with the people who are reading. Or maybe I just like to know that people are reading (see Psycho Analysis, Day 120).

So maybe Project 29 to 30 is my North Star, and I just didn't realize it until now?

Regardless, I think Beck is on to something with finding something that you love and making it your career, while eliminating the negative people and experiences in your life.

Here's to finding your North Star!


  1. "Perhaps it's stupid, but I like writing about my life and I love even more feeling that I've connected with the people who are reading."

    IT'S NOT STUPID! Because I am reading. Daily. And I love it. Daily.

  2. I read 'Do What You Are' several years ago. (sounds like the same kind of book as 'Find Your Own North Star', and 'What Color Is Your Parachute?') turns out i was already doing what i was (a carpenter at the time), and considering going to school to be something else that I was. (a massage therapist). I enjoyed massage therapy, but my current lifestyle (living & travelling in a R.V.) hinders creating a clientele, so now I'm going to school once again - online - to obtain my bachelor's degree. I'll just keep doing something, which is always better than nothing!
    I think maybe we have more than one 'North Star'... yes, very well could be that the blog is yours (for now)!!