4 Ways to Figure Out What You Want to Do

(Photo above by Brett Sayles / Pexels)

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s an exciting question when you’re 5 years old and want to be an octopus. But as you get older, it’s the last thing you want to hear, because the next question becomes, What do you do you want to do with your life?

If I don’t know is your first thought, then we’re right there with you. And even if you did know what you wanted to pursue but it didn’t turn out to how you imagined, that’s OK too. Long story short, you’re not alone, but the journey to figure it out can be just as rewarding as the destination.

In Discussions on Youth the Buddhist teacher Daisaku Ikeda shares more on this topic.

What if I think I don’t have any special skills?

First of all, you definitely have the Buddhability to develop amazing talent. But the question is how do we get there?

Daisaku Ikeda shares where we can start:

Without a doubt, you each have your own jewel, your own innate talent within you. How can you discover that talent? The only way is to exert yourselves to the limit of your ability. Your true potential will emerge when you give everything you’ve got to your studies, sports or whatever you take on.

Discussions on Youth, p. 74

The important thing here is to not limit yourself, saying, “I’m not good at anything.” We don’t really know until we try. No one became talented overnight, so don’t sweat it, be patient and keep pushing on while always choosing to believe in your Buddhability.

Neon sign that reads

Photo by Clark Tibbs / Unsplash

What’s a good checklist for figuring out a career path?

These are some good questions to ask yourself when you’re stuck:

  1. Is the career you’re thinking about something you enjoy?
  2. Does it benefit society in any way?
  3. Can you financially sustain yourself?

Of course, checking each of these boxes off might not be possible at this point. Ikeda shares what’s most important to keep in mind what he learned from his mentor, Josei Toda:

The most important thing is to first become indispensable wherever you are. Instead of moaning that a job differs from what you’d like to be doing, become a first-class individual at that job. This will open the path leading to your next phase in life, during which you should also continue doing your best. Such continuous efforts are guaranteed to land you a job that you like, that supports your life and that allows you to contribute to society. Then, when you look back later, you will see how all your past efforts have become precious assets in your ideal field.

Discussions on Youth, p. 77

In the end, even if what you’re doing right now isn’t what you want to do, you can still make meaning from it. Rather than spend time just dealing with the day to day, remember that what you do right now creates your future. Nothing is ever wasted when you chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and bring out your Buddhability.

No one became talented overnight, so don’t sweat it, be patient and keep pushing on while always choosing to believe in your Buddhability.

What if I thought I knew what I wanted but then changed my mind?

That’s OK. In life, we might have many different passions that lead us to unique opportunities. Ikeda shares:

There is a saying that urges us, “Excel at something!” It is important to become trusted by others wherever you are, to shine with excellence. Sometimes people may dislike their job at first but grow to love it once they become serious about doing their best. “What one likes, one will do well,” goes another saying. Growing to like your job can also enable you to develop your talent. Once you have decided to work at a certain place, it is important that you pursue the path you have chosen without being discouraged or defeated, so that you will have no regrets over making that choice.

Discussions on Youth, p. 78

P.S. Did you know that Vera Wang started her career at 40 years old after being a figure skater and journalist? Now her fashion line is a household brand. “Excel at something!” and you may surprise yourself at what you can accomplish.

Finally, what do you enjoy?

We may think it’s a luxury to pursue what we enjoy but it’s not! Take a few moments to write down what you enjoy and as you continue to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and challenge your own limits, you’ll definitely succeed.

The point is, wherever you are right now, is a great place to start and you have your whole future ahead of you.

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