Successful… What Then?

It’s been there for a few years now, this lingering feeling of something. What it is, I do not know. I apologise; you must have no idea what I am talking about.

But that’s just it — I have no idea what I am talking about. This feeling’s just there, and it’s been there for so long.

I’ve tried all sorts of means to contain it, to examine it, to find out what this feeling was trying to tell me — but that quest for self-discovery seems to me as futile as attempting to hold down a glob of mercury with your finger: you know it must be possible (it looks so much so! it feels so much so!), but as you press down on it, it moves away, and the harder you press, the further and faster it escapes you.

The Optimist, The Existentialist, The Fatalist

The Optimist

Part of me is an optimist: I believe that life will turn out all right. I work hard to achieve my dreams, and I expect that my dreams will come true. I believe that life has much to offer, and I do not expect to die at a young age. I have a strong expectancy to be successfull materially, and have a generally happy life. I strongly do not believe that my life will be lived in mediocrity.

The Existentialist

Part of me is an Existentialist: I’m constantly wondering what on earth we are doing here. Why should we work so hard when life is so transient? What good does maintaining relationships do when everyone dies eventually? If I was never born, if everyone was never born — if life never was — what then? No pain, no suffering, no life, no death.

The Fatalist

I’m also a fatalist: everything that will be will be. Success and happiness is luck-dependent. You can win a million dollars in the lottery one day and die the next. The girl or guy of your dreams may accept your marriage proposal and be killed the next in an armed robbery gone bad. You can break your foot and miss a flight to the most important business meeting you ever hard in years. That flight could be hijacked and crashed into a building. Anything goes.

That Feeling

Maybe it’s a feeling of confusion. The things I believe in seemingly contract each other, and I can’t seem to find the thing that would tie them all together. I’ve had attempts: I managed to join the fatalist and optimist — work hard, and the probabiliy of success increases — only to be derailed by the existential me that says, “okay, so you may be successful… what then?”

The “What Then?” Exercise

Finding it hard to get into an existential state? Feeling too optimistic and need to be grounded? Try the “what then?” exercise now!

Ask Yourself

[1] Ask yourself what matters to you. What is it that really drives you? What are your passions?

Rock climbing perhaps? Football? Maybe you have passions for something contextual thing, like competition, or maybe money? Take 5 minutes to list these things down.

[2] Okay, now that you have listed these things down, ask yourself, “why do I like these things?” Take 5 minutes to write these reasons down.

[3] Once you’ve got these reasons, it’s important to state goals you have for these passions. Perhaps you’d like to be a better rock climber, scaling a wall in a minute? Or maybe you’d like to average 1 goal every 2 games? Or perhaps you’d like to put yourself to 5 challenging situations or competitions every year, a marathon perhaps?

Remember that these goals should be quantifiable. Write down goals for the short term (6 months), medium term (1 year) and long term (5 years). Take fifteen minutes to write down these goals.

[4] Next, we are going to be looking at the longer term goals. Where do you want to be in 10 years time? 20 years time? Take 15 minutes to write these down.

[5] Are you ready for the finale of this exercise? Now, with goals in hand, we shall proceed to the even longer term:

Where will you be in 100 years? In an urn? Perhaps in the latest GT2000ex Special edition casket? Buried in some remote country or in your homeland?

But 100 years, it’s too short, your legacy might still be remembered, so let’s move on.

In 1000 years where will you be? 10,000 years? Or forget that, let’s zoom to the faaaar distant future, long after the Sun has consumed the earth. Where will you be?

[6] So, my friend, where do you want to go today?

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