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Cognition

Find Your True North

I remember when I was a kid, and all of the adults around me would ask: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, as if my 7-year old self had all of the answers. I used to hate that question. I still do. I try my best to avoid asking that of my own kids. Not because I get answers like “a dinosaur”, “a princess” and “a tractor”. Those are all amazing answers and most likely, equally lucrative careers if they managed to pull it off. I steer clear of that question to avoid undue stress. What child needs to take time away from building a fort out of couch cushions to worry about getting a job, how they’re going to pay the bills, or what their purpose is on this planet? There’s plenty of time for that stress much later in life.

Fast-forward a few years and I’m my own worst enemy, constantly turning that dagger of a question inward and asking myself: “What the hell are you doing with your life?”. I’ve got a great job doing work that I really enjoy. I’ve got an amazing family, a house with a yard and a fence, and even a cool dog. I drive a nice truck, a cool motorcycle, and I’ve got a pretty impressive collection of vintage art, furniture and random artifacts. When I’m not working, I’m either building something or trying to make life fun and awesome for my kids. I really don’t have much to complain about. But for some reason, I’m just antsy all the time, like I’m not doing something I should be, or not doing enough of something else.

I came across this list of “30 Questions To Help You Find Your True North” in one of my late-night / early-morning, self-help wormholes. This concept of a “true north” resonates with me – finding it seems essential to navigating a fulfilling life. I wouldn’t say I’m lost or unfulfilled. But I would be a liar if I said I had it all figured out.

As instructed, I’ve been taking my time and thinking very carefully about each and every question. While some of them are pretty simple, there’s a few that have me stumped, and a few that I’ll never be able to answer. I don’t know what the meaning of life really is. I don’t have a personal mission statement. And I’ve already spent too much time worrying about my legacy.

Am I crazy? Am I overthinking life? You don’t have to answer. Rather, think about your own true north. Pick a few questions to focus on and see where they lead you. In the meantime, I’ll be wondering:

If I accomplish one thing by the end of the year, what would make the biggest impact on my happiness?

What do I not want others to know about me? How can I find and conquer insecurities?

What bugs me? What makes me mad? How can I make my anger productive?

What in my life is “on hold”? What am I waiting for?

Who are the five people I interact with the most? How are they helping me reach my goals (or not)?

Good luck and godspeed.

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