What The Fuck Am I Supposed To Do With My Life? The Frustration Of Indecision

What the fuck am I supposed to do with my life?
Update: I noticed that people are arriving at this post from search engines, possibly looking for guidance. I am not yet qualified to give such guidance. I’m not sure anyone ever is. The one thing I can do is share my own experience after the fact.

After I picked a direction, I started to worry less. I thought I would worry even more after picking a direction forward, about having picked the wrong one, but I don’t. There are still ups and downs, of course. But I don’t feel stuck anymore. I feel like I’m going somewhere, maybe not as fast as I could wish, or towards exactly where I had previously hoped, but I’m inching forward. And that feeling is important. I don’t think I could feel content without it.

I think that it’s easier to be terrified of making a wrong decision before you make one, than to get caught up worrying after you’ve made one. Even if that wasn’t true, what’s great is, there are actual, tangible things that you can do to after you’ve picked a direction. This often means you end up with less time to just worry, and doing actual things just has a way of making you feel better.

It’s easy to think that more thinking and consideration is a good thing. But that’s not necessarily the case. Sometimes the more you look into each option the more confused you get. Upsides turn into downsides, and downsides turn out to be upsides… maybe?

If you have no ideas about what you want to do at all, you could perhaps go through a list of possible professions based on your interests and start with the ones where it’s easiest to get a foot in the door.

My original post remains as I first posted it below:

 

A few seconds ago I was barely suppressing a violent outburst of rage. I struggled to not smash any of the objects around me, like I used to do in the past, and managed to settle for muffled screaming while clenching my fists. I’m not driving, there was no douche insulting my non-existent girlfriend, there was no traditional instigator at all.. except myself.

I wanted to write this post about how my own indecision is frustrating to me.. but it’s not even frustration anymore… it’s rage and self-hatred, eating away at me from the inside. This last year, more than the rest of my life, has been an exercise in indecision. I was supposed to decide on a direction to take in life. But every time I think I’ve made my choice, something happens that changes my mind. Whether it’s lack of faith in my ability to successfully go down that path, or lack of faith that I will enjoy that path, I always find a reason to change my mind.

I still have no idea what to fucking do, all the choices are laughing at me, as I get more and more confused, before I turn to entertainment to distract me from the impending cycle of minimum wages and misery.

What. The. Fuck. Am. I. Supposed To Do With My Life?

That’s the question. It’s always there. In the back of my head, waiting for a spare moment to ruin my mood. The ironic thing is, the more I ask myself, the more lost I get. The more opportunities I explore, the less confident I become in choosing one over the other.

I think when I started this blog that I hoped it would become some sort of surrogate I could feel purpose from.. but with the limited readership and activity, but most of all my lack of progress, I have to admit that I got discouraged. I know it’s not a numbers game like that, that if I managed to change someone’s life a tiny bit, or make them think, then it was worthwhile.. but sometimes it’s hard to convince yourself to see things logically.

At times I resent my parents for not forcing a surrogate life purpose upon me so I’d at least have some form of direction going for me. Or my luck in being born with more or less “endless” opportunities. But then I realize I’m being an idiot and I resent myself instead, talk about a waste of time.

And then when I ask for guidance, I get told things like.. “follow your gut”, “do what you want to do”, “do something you’re good at”, or even “follow the money”. And sometimes 50 year olds telling me “I don’t even know what I want to be yet.” Awesome. Earlier today my friend said I should just move to Thailand and teach English, and that’s rather tempting to be honest. Especially with the first snow of the season arriving already. I might like skiing, but snow is just a pain in the ass in a city, (not that Bergen is much of a city, but you get the idea.)

But then I remember the alternatives, and how they could possibly lead to a successful career and blablabla. Or I think, what if I don’t like Thailand, and end up wasting time and money just to be more miserable than I am right now wasting my time trying to plan something that is rather impossible to plan.

Is A Bad Choice Better Than Indecision?

That’s really the question isn’t it? I wrote this post only to ask you this.. people more experienced at life than I am, please share your opinion.

From what I’m going through right now, I’m theorizing that it is. I guess it depends on HOW bad of a choice it is. Let’s expect realistic consequences, like getting into a career only to realize I’m terrible at it/I hate it. Or that I could have made more money and been financially free faster doing something else. Let’s leave the going bankrupt, and coincidentally getting killed because of career choice out of this.

I have an overwhelming need to feel that my life is going somewhere, and I don’t think years of therapy to get over that is the best move at this point in my life. I’ve tried the tricks, tried to brainwash myself into thinking that my life is going somewhere at it’s own pace, or that nobody’s lives are ever going in any particular direction.. or whatever but I don’t think it’s working too well. Maybe it’s the fact that I more or less wasted a year trying to figure it out that makes it so compelling to me these days… but I’m not sure if the why even matters anymore.

I don’t really see a choice.. other than making a choice, haha. Ideally I want to make a decision by the end of this month, or at least this year. Whether or not I’m going out of the country again, if so where that is, what I’m going to be doing.. what my long term goal is, things like that.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts so I can make an informed decision on whether or not to make a decision.

Photo by: Creative Ignition

32 Responses

  1. Winifred Reilly November 20, 2013 / 4:12 pm

    Hey, Ragnar.
    What a great question: a bad choice or no choice.
    First of all when we make a choice we never know quite how it’s going to turn out. Any choice can end up being a bad choice or good choice.

    Some choices, however, are lousy choices from the get-go.
    And somehow we know their inherent lousiness. We get a sick feeling in our gut, our heart feels shut down, nothing “clicks.”

    I’ve been served well by this: when we know a path is not good it’s absolutely idiotic to follow it.

    Sometimes anxiety mounts and starts telling us that we should just move — but why should we when where we’re going is not right for us?

    I suggest you go do something “temporary” that aligns with your values. We can’t “squeeze” inspiration or creativity out of ourselves.

    Try things on for size. Be prepared to discard them. Consider it an odyssey, which is different from being lost.

    • ragnar November 21, 2013 / 5:25 am

      Thanks a lot for sharing your insights Winifred. I think I’m starting to see a pattern where it’s fine to make decisions as long as you recognize when you’re on the wrong path.

  2. Kevin Cole November 20, 2013 / 7:20 pm

    No decision is bad Ragnar. Even if it blows up in your face, you will still have learned a shit load.

    I appreciate you opening up on all of this man. I know it’s not an easy road.

    We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.

    • ragnar November 20, 2013 / 10:04 pm

      That’s definitely a cool attitude that I will be working to adopt. It’s funny how much overthinking can affect every aspect of your life, not just social situations. Alright dude, cheers.

  3. Ludvig Sunström November 20, 2013 / 9:00 pm

    Is A Bad Choice Better Than Indecision?

    —> I would say:
    In the short-term, yes maybe. But I think it’s more about the prevailing long-term attitude. It’s going to be A LOT better do make many wrong decisions and learn from them (as Kevin said), than not do anything and stay in a comfortable illusion without making progress.

    Here’s a pertinent quote that I read today that goes along nicely with your post:

    othing is accomplished in warfare without daring; that the nature of war certainly does not let us see at all times where we are going; that what is probable will always be probable though at the moment it may not seem so; and finally, that we cannot be readily ruined by a single error, if we have made reasonable preparations.

    – Carl von Clausewitz

    Regards,
    Ludvig

    • ragnar November 20, 2013 / 9:23 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Ludvig, definitely appreciate you pitching in. It seems like I’ve got a few decisions waiting for me in the near future.

  4. Vincent Nguyen November 21, 2013 / 1:52 am

    I’m definitely in the camp that believes a bad choice is better than staying stagnant and afraid of taking action. Glad you set certain limits to our answer, so yes, bad choices that don’t get you killed or psychologically destroy you is better.

    You learn what works and doesn’t work for you. You figure out your weaknesses. You find a small hint of what direction you want to take.

    Contrast that with inaction. You’re left wondering “what if?” You stew in silence with only your thoughts and worries to make some noise.

    Get out there and do something awesome.

    • ragnar November 21, 2013 / 5:29 am

      The replies to this post are really motivating! And here I thought I was about to get some sleep… What you describes really sounds like what I had planned on doing, that didn’t seem to pan out for me. I guess I was being to dabbley. I feel like I just need to take a plunge and grasp for straws as I’m free falling.. who knows, maybe I’ll manage to latch onto a healthy tree root.

  5. Tammy R November 21, 2013 / 3:37 am

    Hi Ragnar, I think that you will learn best from doing – choosing and then leaving the door open for change, if needed. I was in a job I thought I couldn’t leave, and in a way I felt paralyzed. What I now realize was that I was really building up expertise in that one area that now allows me to have my own tutoring business. I never could have done that if I hadn’t taught and experienced all I did in the public schools. I think choosing and then modifying if needed. The more I sit and spin my wheels, the more paralyzed I get! That’s just me though.

    Sometimes I tell my students, “I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up.” They think I’m being funny…but, I’m not!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    • ragnar November 21, 2013 / 5:33 am

      I think the fact that you don’t know means that you’re still excited by the possibilities.. now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I can manage to be inspired by that, instead of frustrated. It’s a bit scary how much my mood can affect my perspective. I’m starting to think that waiting has that effect on everyone. I remember when I was challenging myself to talk on random people on the street.. the times I managed to do it was when I just did it as soon as I recognized them as a person. When I started to wait, I started to rationalize not doing it, like them looking busy and other things. Maybe what I learned from that experience is more universal than I had previously thought! Thanks for stopping by and sharing Tammy!

  6. Razwana November 21, 2013 / 2:52 pm

    What is it that you’re afraid of happening? That something was a waste of time? That there may have been something else, something better, that you could have been doing?

    There’s ALWAYS something else that you could have been doing, Ragnar. This indecision is guaranteeing you WILL live without direction or purpose. Because right now? You’re choosing to do so.

    ‘The more opportunities I explore, the less confident I become in choosing one over the other.’ That’s quite a telling sentence. What expectations do you have of the things you explore? Does it HAVE to be something with a purpose?

    • ragnar November 21, 2013 / 11:54 pm

      It’s not really about purpose as much as it is about direction, I guess any choice will do, really. Thanks for being frank with me, I needed to hear this. Everything is starting to come together.

  7. jamie flexman November 21, 2013 / 3:41 pm

    When I grow up I want to be a boy!

    There is no such thing as a waste of time, that is unless you fail to learn from the experience. Press ahead, keep moving forwards, seek out new pleasures. Do all of the things you’ve always thought about (and plenty more you haven’t).

    Make it up as you go along, there are no rules.

    Make a mistake – make 10 more. See what happens.

    That one thing that you spend most of your time thinking about…

    Do it.

    • ragnar November 22, 2013 / 2:20 am

      Thanks Jamie, sounds like a plan. I wonder when I got confused and stopped focusing on forward motion!

  8. richmiraclefiles November 22, 2013 / 12:21 pm

    Hi Ragnar,
    Your question about bad choices and indecision is signifiant.Yet it is more about responses than actions.
    Actions are decisions,indecisions.Responses are what you tell yourself about them.What you feel about the impact of your decisions on your immediate circumstances.That is more important.
    So before you question any further ask yourself this;”what are your rseponses to any circumstances that emerge as a result of your decisions or indecisions”.You may discover that the internal dialogue you have with yourself is more important than your queries.Your calmness is more important than anything else.
    Thanks
    Mona

  9. Steve November 22, 2013 / 11:48 pm

    So the ultimate question is if a bad choice is better than indecision. In my opnion…yes. Most definitely. If I’m going to make a bad decision I want it to be something that I specifically chose to do. If you can’t decide to do something, you’re just letting the world (or someone else) make a decision for you. I’d rather be the deciding factor in my destiny…even if that means making a bad choice.

    I remember reading a quote somewhere that all experiences are beneficial. If if turns out good, you succeed, if it turns out bad, you become wise.

    I try to not see decisions are good or bad, but what I got out of them. If I at least learned something (or got a good story out of it), I feel like I got something out of the decision, even if didn’t go very well.

    • ragnar November 24, 2013 / 4:50 pm

      Yeah, that’s how I usually try to look at decisions as well, but somehow it didn’t translate for me when I was thinking about major decisions about my future.

  10. Jackson Anderson November 24, 2013 / 6:34 am

    Hey man,

    I hear you on a lot of this, I go through it all regularly and it makes life harder than it truly needs to be, but we have to push past it.

    Is A Bad Choice Better Than Indecision?

    The answer is a blunt, YES.

    You learn lessons, gain experience, knowledge and you can now rule out one of those paths as being the right one, if that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.

    Keep it real with yourself man and just do what feels right for now and the second it doesn’t feel right, listen to your inner-self screaming at you for change and rather than being defeated before trying, have a crack.

    I mean who knew your blog would actually get readers and 17 comments on one post? You didn’t, but you started anyway and now look.

    The future is anything we want it to be man and we’ve just got to ignore that doubtful voice in our head.

    If you’re scared it probably means you’re onto something :)

    Good luck man!

  11. richmiraclefiles November 26, 2013 / 11:56 am

    Hi Ragnar,
    The fact of life is that you can outsource everything else in life but you just cannot outsource your growth to any one else.You alone are responsible ,and capable of growing stronger.Yourself.
    Thanks
    Mona

  12. Kitty November 27, 2013 / 10:33 am

    Have you considered making a temporary decision? A decision with a time-stamp. “I’ll do x for a year and then I’ll reevaluate” can be a really useful way of taking the pressure off while still acting. Non-action really isn’t the way to go.

  13. Angela December 5, 2013 / 11:37 am

    Hi Ragnar,

    I have never written in a blog to give my opinion,but this time when I was reading this post, I felt so so identify. I would like to give you an smart idea or advice but I just want to tell you: I feel exactly in the same way as you and many times in my life I have felt the same.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    • ragnar December 5, 2013 / 12:04 pm

      I really appreciate that. Solidarity is a beautiful thing, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  14. Guill January 16, 2014 / 4:41 am

    Still wondering?

    • Ragnar Miljeteig January 17, 2014 / 5:27 pm

      I’m more at peace with not knowing exactly where I’m going, plus I have started getting some forward momentum in a couple of different areas in my life.. but at a certain level I guess I’m still wondering, yes.

      • Guill January 18, 2014 / 5:06 am

        I was just asking because I’ve been in the same situation than you, and it took me a while to find my way out. But eventually I did. And this is what worked for me: doing more of the things I like, and less of the things I don’t like. One day is 24 hours, it’s a limited amount of time, so there’s definitely a notion of “filling” a day. The key is just to fill up the day with the things you value doing. And here’s the interesting side effect: you end up being more relaxed, more content, more fulfilled, and more creative. And creativity is going to bring you your purpose.

        I used to sit, wait, look forward and hope that I will find my purpose in life, or that it will come to me like an eureka moment. It never happened. What worked was just doing things I like to do, and from time to time sit and reflect on how to sustain my life doing these things. It just requires awareness, reflection, courage, and action. All of this is in our control.

        Good luck!

        • Ragnar Miljeteig January 18, 2014 / 8:01 pm

          I really appreciate that. I decided to stop waiting for a sign and just make my own decision. I’m starting to make some progress, and I feel less lost, and worry less about the could have beens. I definitely want to fill my day up with things that I value doing, that’s probably my number one priority right now, eliminating the fat and creating a fulfilling routine.

          • Guill January 19, 2014 / 6:49 am

            Very good then, you’re on the right track.

  15. Guill January 18, 2014 / 5:10 am

    Just want add, there’s a saying from Steve Jobs, I think it’s from his Stanford speech. It goes something like: you cannot connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots looking backwards. That’s exactly what I mean above.

  16. Aljoscha Laschgari February 20, 2014 / 8:44 pm

    Been there. Had that. Indecision comes from not willing to make experiments and not taking action. My advice:
    See a problem. Solve it. Repeat.

    And don’t ever think that you can make a FINAL decision. Life has so many upcoming opportunities for you! Why limit yourself.

    Do what you want to do now. And then evolve.

    • Ragnar Miljeteig February 21, 2014 / 12:41 pm

      Yeah, even my parents keep telling me they “don’t know what they want to do when they grow up”. Haha.

  17. kripa March 2, 2015 / 8:06 pm

    Hi Ragnar, I have a struggled a lot with the same dilemma that you find yourself in. No amount of action helped me because I could not do anything wholeheartedly; at the back of my mind I would feel that perhaps there are better choices out there. There is no point in taking action when your mind is elsewhere (except in practical matters like doing something to earn a minimum amount to keep the home going, minimum exercise etc). For a person of your kind of thinking relief comes not from action, but from understanding. I now understand that there is nothing to be done, and there is nothing that one needs to become. You just need to BE. Completely accept yourself, your indecision etc etc, and make peace with it because THIS IS WHAT YOU CURRENTLY ARE. You will float into a situation that is optimum for you. But dont do this acceptance bit with an eye on finding the solution. You must make such peace with it that if you asked yourself if you could live with it for the rest of your life, you must be able to answer “yes”. Please watch youtube videos by Rupert Spira, Mooji or Prashant Tripathi (some of his videos are in English). They helped me to see this. Regards Kripa

  18. Scott May 27, 2015 / 1:10 am

    Hey Ragnar,

    I just read your blog. I have experienced some of the same indecision you have. Right now, I am working as a limo driver, but it is not what I want to do the rest of my life. Before the last 5 years of doing nothing but driving jobs, I went from job to job. I either didn’t work hard enough and got fired, or quit jobs I didn’t like. I am now 34 years old, will be 35 pretty soon. And because of all my previous failings doing construction, cable guy, electrician, failed student teaching experience, I am afraid to try anything, because failing at something is so painful. I’ve never been a person who loved working, and that is part of my problem. I have ideas in my head of stuff I could possibly do, but immediately dismiss them for fear that I won’t like it. Anyways, just thought I’,d share my experience.

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