What to Do When You Don’t Have a Roadmap in Life

Key Takeaways

  • Life is all about structure; it’s easy to feel lost without it.
  • We might benefit from changing the way we view ourselves and the world around us.
  • Author Mark Manson outlines three important life skills nobody taught you.

If you think about it, life is all about structure and having a framework that helps us make decisions and navigate our daily lives. As humans, we crave this, but there is no such thing as a roadmap for how to live. If you look, though, you can sometimes find some pretty good advice.

Author Mark Manson has written a number of articles on life advice, along with several books, including the best-seller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. If you read it, or any of his other works, you’ll find he takes a different approach than that of most self-help authors. One such example is his article titled “3 Important Life Skills Nobody Ever Taught You.”

Stop Taking Things Personally

This is something people tend to do all the time, even when things have nothing to do with them. As Manson points out in his article, “…we tend to have an inherent bias towards assuming that pretty much everything that happens to us is actually about us.” However, most things in this world aren’t actually about us, even if they elicit our feelings.

And it’s not just the bad things that happen; it’s the good things too. Manson points out that if we allow ourselves to believe all the good things in life are results of who we are, we’re setting ourselves up for an emotional roller coaster when times are bad. It’s important to realize this.

How to Be Persuaded and Change Your Mind

It’s true that the beliefs we hold about ourselves are the foundation of our identity. To change these beliefs can be both difficult and painful. However, it’s also true that we’re often wrong in life and that, in order to grow and succeed, we need to acknowledge when we’re wrong and allow ourselves to change our minds.

That may be easier said than done, but Manson suggests a way to go about this: think of 20 beliefs you hold about yourself and write them down. These should be deeply held assumptions you have about yourself. For instance: I’m lazy; I’ll never be happy; I’m not good looking; I’m socially awkward.

After you have your list of 20 assumptions, consider them in reverse: what would it mean in your life if your assumptions were wrong? This isn’t an easy exercise, but it holds the potential of allowing you to see yourself and your life in a completely new light. What an incredible gift to give yourself!

How to Act Without Knowing the Result

Going back to the topic of structure, this third life skill is one that people often grapple with when they reach adulthood. Up until the age of 18, it’s common for us to have pretty structured lives because we have adults telling us what to do, when to do it, and how to behave. Our parents provide us with boundaries, we attend schools with structured classes and schedules, and we are limited in our ability to make decisions.

Then adulthood arrives, we’re thrust into “the real world,” and we become lost. As an adult, you’re free to do as you please – that’s great! AND absolutely terrifying!

What if we choose the wrong path? (We might!)

How do we know whether we’re doing the “right” thing? (We don’t!)

What if we make mistakes? (Good!)

Wait…good? Yes, because it means you’re taking chances and not avoiding opportunities to grow and to experience excitement.

Manson argues that it’s important to act simply because you can. Start out with small things: try taking a class, challenge yourself to meet new people, pick up a book on a topic you know nothing about. It may well result in failure, but this is where the structure comes in.

By deciding to try new things without any guarantee of success, you’ll find yourself better able to make decisions on the bigger ambiguous decisions in life. And once you’ve experienced many small failures, you’ll see patterns that will show you how to quickly adjust, allowing you to move forward and try something else, rather than being stuck, unsure how to proceed. You now have structure to guide you.

The world is a messy place. It’s difficult to make decisions. There are no guarantees. But looking at life from this counter-culture viewpoint might just help you build your own roadmap. Until next time, enjoy.


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