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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Kiwi Mustache on March 15, 2015, 08:36:18 PM

Title: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Kiwi Mustache on March 15, 2015, 08:36:18 PM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.

I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20ís at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would do ďsomething greatĒ with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

Iím having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: BlueHouse on March 15, 2015, 08:50:02 PM
There are many biographies of people who do amazing things, but there are also many of people who do many many small things, that when accumulated, become amazing.  Some of the people who do extraordinary things in small ways become famous for it, and many don't. 

I think you'll be surprised to learn that you touch so many people's lives and can have a very big impact on them. 
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Coonz on March 15, 2015, 09:11:36 PM
I definitely feel ya in the quarter-life crisis category. We are bombarded with way too many stories about 5yo artistic prodigies and 20yo CEOs!

I think it comes down to what you think is great. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what is important to me and what makes my life feel meaningful. For me, it boils down to having a positive impact on the people/world around me and being willing to challenge myself out societal/conventional norms. I feel "great" when I help a kid learn something new, make a friend smile, support somebody's hard work, or have nice conversations with strangers. I never want somebody to feel worse off for knowing me. The decision to live my life this way has opened up a great network of great friends that bring great adventures and great memories and great opportunities and great satisfaction.

Perhaps you need to find meaningful work- not necessarily in a 9-5 job sense, but in the sense of a life purpose. Do you have a mission statement for your life? I'm not religious, but I spent a lot of time pondering my mission statement when writing my grad school applications :).

Besides deciding to live my life as a positive and grateful person, this crisis (which I'm assuming will continue for several more years in my life) has caused me to explore new jobs, new activities, new friends, new adventures, new cities, etc. etc. I feel in "crisis" when I feel stuck. I feel stuck when I'm not enjoying life. Then I figure out why I am not enjoying life and either change my attitude or change my life.

I borrowed Wooden's "A Game Plan for Life" from my father awhile back and just started reading it a few days ago. It does contain religious notes if that is something that bothers you, but the subject is the importance of power of mentors- both seeking and providing mentoring. It ties in with what BlueHouse said about making an impact through small acts. You can do great things for other people and that may make you feel great :).
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MDM on March 15, 2015, 09:20:26 PM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.
Never got to those levels either, although I did fairly well from the traditional perspective of career success.

Quote
I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.
But the thing that provides the most self-satisfaction now is seeing our children and the good judgments and successes they have.  They aren't world famous either, and we certainly can't take all the credit for what they have done, but I wouldn't trade any public award for the private satisfaction of having done "ok" as a parent. 

So, perhaps, your best is yet to come....
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: catccc on March 15, 2015, 09:32:00 PM
I'm okay with this.  I'm just going to live for a living!  I mean, it isn't like I'm being horrible or anything.  It will be fine.  DH does not have this philosophy.  He constantly feels like a failure because he hasn't done anything really great.  I'm not sure how I can get through to him that this is okay. 

I do have kids and they certainly bring meaning to my life, but I don't kid myself that this is all that special in the grand scheme of things.  Lots of people have kids.  Am I particularly special to my kids?  To my spouse?  I'm sure.  Are they amazingly special to me?  Yes.  That's good enough for me.

I like to try lots of different things.  Jack of all trades, master of none?  That's okay with me.  I don't need to win a blue ribbon every time to feel good about myself.  At least not anymore.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Wings5 on March 15, 2015, 09:36:56 PM
There is greatness in the everyday ordinary. My grandfather was a great man who had hundreds of people at his funeral, but nobody will ever write a book about him (not even an article in the local paper when he passed away). He was genuine, friendly, always ready to lend a hand, and had a no-kidding money tree in his back yard with coins growing out of it.

I think the key to your happiness is re-evaluating your definition of greatness. Do not be defined by what you do, but by who you are. Maybe volunteering would help, or joining a new meet-up group. Up through your early twenties there is always something new and different just a few months or years away. You could conceivably be doing what you do today for the next 30 years. Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind the idea of having nothing new scares you and makes you feel like you are bumbling.

Yep, I was there at 22. I started a full-time job for $40k a few weeks after graduation. My first day on the job (as a fleet supervisor for a trucking company) the word I heard the most was "retirement", mainly from my well-meaning coworkers trying to give me advice. I went home thinking that everyone at my new company must hate their job if all anyone thinks about is the day it will all end. My mind was hung up on, "Is this all there is? This is going to suck."

1. I changed jobs. Part of my problem was job dissatisfaction. I hated my job and felt like it did not make a contribution to society. I did some soul searching and figured out what I enjoyed, then shifted careers. I have way more fun doing what I do now, but there are still days when I sit and wonder if I am maing the world a better place. But, we take ourselves too seriously as adults. Who says we all have to find a cure for cancer? It should be enough for us to make one person smile each day.

2. I found new hobbies. I took up Spanish, running, and things I thought were awesome as a kid, I went back into it. Mountain biking, making bike ramps in my driveway, pillow forts, animated movies.

3. I had kids. I mean, we had planned on having kids anyway, but when they came along, it helped the feeling of bumbling. New parents achieve greatness overnight (for dads, for moms it probably feels more like nine monhs). Everything you do can make their day.

It passes, and as a few have suggested it's just a matter of perspective.






Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Chuck on March 15, 2015, 09:47:46 PM
I still think about this, from time to time. Even compared to some of my friends I feel like I haven't "accomplished" very much.

But that isn't what life is about for me. I have no desire to be a politician. Nor a CEO. I've known a couple of each, and their lives, while meaningful, tend to be filled with misery as a trade off.

I want to be free to do what I want, when I want. To spend the last 50-65 years of my life going where I please. That is the ultimate achievement for me, and it's something very few can manage, even among the more significant people out there.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: lostamonkey on March 15, 2015, 09:52:41 PM
I never really understood wanting to be great. You are quite fortunate and should feel satisfied.

You had parents who loved you (presumably given your naivite and feeling you could do anything), a university education, a good job, a significant other who loves you, and you will have have kids and a dignified and hopefully early retirement. You also live in one of the best countries in the world in the best time in history.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: sol on March 15, 2015, 10:03:33 PM
Everyone feels this way at some point.  Einstein and Obama and Bono have had these feelings.

If you are the kind of person who is only happy striving towards a goal, then strive.  Accept that no goal will ever be great enough, and strive anyway.  Then die feeling unfulfilled.

Or, if you're like most of humanity, try to accept that your purpose in life is not to meet anyone else's definition of success.  Only you get to decide whether your life has been meaningful or pathetic.  If you don't like what you see of yourself, you have the power to change it.

I almost barfed at my high school graduation ceremony when the speaker tried to convince the graduates that we were the next generation of doctors and lawyers and world-changing politicians.  No, we were a class of average white kids from an average school, and even at that age I could tell we all had average destinies.  Most of them are insurance reps or car salesman or housewives, and that is totally fine. 

What do I mean by "fine"?  Think about how awesome your life is.  You have hot and cold running water any time of day or night.  Your local grocery store contains a bounty far greater than any King or Pharaoh could ever muster.  You can fly between continents in great magical machines, and you have access to the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips and/or in your pocket.  Your life is better than that of 99.9% of humans who have ever lived.  You are immeasurably blessed.

But you don't have an olympic medal, and you never will.  And that's fine, because if everyone had one it would be just like hot and cold running water, and you'd find something else to be depressed about not having.

Tis human nature to be unhappy with what you have, no matter how amazing it is. 
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: humblefi on March 15, 2015, 10:32:25 PM
You have already got amazing advice in the thread. I will add my small perspective on this question you have asked.

1.
First off, it is really really great that your conscience is raising doubts about your direction. This is the first step towards your personal growth. Out of this uncomfortable position will come a new beginning into a new direction.

2.
Second, adulthood brought out an interesting phase in my life. Right from kindergarten to when I started my first job, things were pretty much scripted for me...elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and finally work. I kind of had the same set of friends through high school and some new ones in college and all of whom kind of followed the same path. So, when I started work, I realized that the scripted path has ended. I need to decide which job to pick and decide my own future. I needed a new meaning for life! This was a bit scary at first since I was taking a direction which most of my friends were not...but, I took it.

3.
The important thing to realize is that I did not know if it would work. In fact, may of the decisions I have taken since then have *not* worked out. But, that is okay. The entire life is about picking a new direction and working towards it. After 5 years or some number of years, you may pick a new direction and work towards it. Every time your conscience complains, it is time to search for a new direction OR at the least exploring what is unsettling you in your current life...this is what I believe. Life is about the search for new meanings and the only way you know what it is is by trying out a few things.

4.
Every time you think you have a new direction, take 10% of your time in life and explore it. For example, I once thought a sales career was very interesting. I took some courses in sales and did very well and I figured I can easily do it. But, I wasn't ready for the people manipulations that one has to do in sales career. I.e. this new direction did not work out, but that is okay because I did not let go of my current work i.e. I am a conservative person. Some people let go totally and explore a new direction. It all depends on their personality. Try a couple new directions and see how it works out. Maybe you will discover the next direction for your life.

5.
One note about FI. FI is about building a platform to explore new directions, without worrying about survival. You need not wait for FI to explore new directions...use the 10% time to explore new directions before FI...as you get more FI, you can increase your FI towards 100% and at FI, you have 100% of time to explore new directions.

Hope whatever I said is helpful. Best of luck in your search for new meaning!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: BCBiker on March 15, 2015, 11:07:31 PM
I truly believe that anyone can change the world if they are motivated and have a meaningful idea! This is the pursuit of significance that I think is reasonable. You may not be successful but there is great pleasure to be gained from trying.

Many people pursue significance in inappropriate ways that actually can make you less happy.  Two that immediately come to mind are the pursuits of fame and fortune.  The pursuit of fame can make one terribly unhappy because success is difficult to duplicate and you create a craving within yourself that cannot continue to be satisfied.  The reason that facebook consistently makes people unhappy is because it often becomes a pursuit of more attention. 

The same can certainly be said of the pursuit of money for its own sake. 

Becoming Mustachian has taken me a long way from this pursuit.  Pursue money to allow you to do things with your life rather than pursuing money is one of the take-home messages I get from people in this community!

Here is a great essay I read several months ago related to happiness and the feeling of meaning in the world. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on March 16, 2015, 12:50:12 AM
Great piece!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: rpr on March 16, 2015, 01:06:28 AM
BCBiker-- many thanks for that link. Great article and very thought provoking read.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: deborah on March 16, 2015, 01:58:03 AM
Well, I have had my moments of fame. I think anyone can represent their country in something - not the Olympics - but other things. I am not yet dead, so someday maybe I'll "make my mark" - even though I don't really want to.

I don't look like someone who represented Australia, and was on television world wide, seen by audiences in their millions, and was so recognisable from that time, that people stopped me in the street. The fact that they all asked me why I was singing the wrong words to a song in the finale, rather than commenting on my performance, shows you what people REALLY remember!

So don't worry about all this stuff - it's pretty silly really!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: happy on March 16, 2015, 02:58:08 AM
Our society is fairly obsessed with high achievement, and goal focused outcomes. The Guiness book of records has now taken this to ridiculous extremes. Three thoughts:

"Being" is as important as "doing".  (?more important).

Achievement can be measured in different ways : it might be adherence to a set of personal values in situations of adversity: e.g. integrity, honesty, courage, caring for others etc.

Many great achievers did not do too much till mid-life or laterÖit seems a little premature to decide that you aren't going to do anything particularly great with your life. You just don't know what opportunities will come up, or how you will respond to them. Heh even MMM is just some frugal retired dude "typing shit into the computer"ÖI'm sure he didn't envisage how it would all expand in advance.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Spondulix on March 16, 2015, 03:00:28 AM
I've been there. I think the thing that helped me was learning what I would have to sacrifice to be significant. I have a friend who is in my field and I would call her work significant. I got to join her for a work day, and by the end of the day I was like, "I have no interest in this." When I took a step back, I saw that the people who were "significant" (in the way I wanted to be) sacrificed family (not seeing kids, divorces, etc), worked all the time, didn't have quality relationships. All they had was that "significant" work.

That shift really happened after I got married (at 27). Before then, I was totally career focused and things never quite went where I expected. I let go as I realized I was significant to the people closest to me, and that's more important now.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: gooki on March 16, 2015, 03:06:34 AM
You will do many little things that will make you awesome.

I'm not one for internal reflection, but found happier.com to be a great tool (in private mode).
https://www.happier.com/app/community

Mark Manson has some very good articles surrounding this subject. My personal favourite is:
http://markmanson.net/question
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: kaposzta on March 16, 2015, 04:35:30 AM
I believe you can definitely achieve great things in your life:

- You can live a full, happy life with your family and friends
- You can write one or more books (everyone can write something good - I'm thinking about writing children's stories)
- And some minor but very important accomplishments: plant a tree, travel a lot (even to neighboring cities), give money or attention to the poor, read a lot, find one or more hobbies, etc., there are a million more things

Who would want to be a CEO, gold medalist or celebrity, if they can achieve something way more special?
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: steveo on March 16, 2015, 05:04:36 AM
I believe you can definitely achieve great things in your life:

- You can live a full, happy life with your family and friends
- You can write one or more books (everyone can write something good - I'm thinking about writing children's stories)
- And some minor but very important accomplishments: plant a tree, travel a lot (even to neighboring cities), give money or attention to the poor, read a lot, find one or more hobbies, etc., there are a million more things

Who would want to be a CEO, gold medalist or celebrity, if they can achieve something way more special?

This is a good way to look at it.
Title: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: hodedofome on March 16, 2015, 11:04:16 AM
Plenty of people didn't do anything significant until after 50 years old. Keep plugging away, don't give up, and I'm sure something will come around that you enjoy and will be good at.

My grandpa got several patents for his inventions after retiring as a teacher. He never made any money from it, but enjoyed creating stuff and it gave his life plenty of meaning until his 90s when he couldn't do it anymore.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Allen on March 16, 2015, 11:05:20 AM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.

I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20ís at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would do ďsomething greatĒ with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

Iím having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

Welcome to average.

Watch Fight Club, have a beer, and then  decide what You want to do with Your Life.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Exhale on March 16, 2015, 11:35:57 AM
Great piece in Leo Babauta's zenhabits on this titled "The Source of Contentment" => http://zenhabits.net/source/

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: SK Joyous on March 16, 2015, 11:39:58 AM
Everyone feels this way at some point.  Einstein and Obama and Bono have had these feelings.

If you are the kind of person who is only happy striving towards a goal, then strive.  Accept that no goal will ever be great enough, and strive anyway.  Then die feeling unfulfilled.

Or, if you're like most of humanity, try to accept that your purpose in life is not to meet anyone else's definition of success.  Only you get to decide whether your life has been meaningful or pathetic.  If you don't like what you see of yourself, you have the power to change it.

I almost barfed at my high school graduation ceremony when the speaker tried to convince the graduates that we were the next generation of doctors and lawyers and world-changing politicians.  No, we were a class of average white kids from an average school, and even at that age I could tell we all had average destinies.  Most of them are insurance reps or car salesman or housewives, and that is totally fine. 

What do I mean by "fine"?  Think about how awesome your life is.  You have hot and cold running water any time of day or night.  Your local grocery store contains a bounty far greater than any King or Pharaoh could ever muster.  You can fly between continents in great magical machines, and you have access to the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips and/or in your pocket.  Your life is better than that of 99.9% of humans who have ever lived.  You are immeasurably blessed.

But you don't have an olympic medal, and you never will.  And that's fine, because if everyone had one it would be just like hot and cold running water, and you'd find something else to be depressed about not having.

Tis human nature to be unhappy with what you have, no matter how amazing it is.

This.  This.  'Average' in our privileged position is beautiful, fulfilling, and can be amazing every single day with the right attitude.  Thank you Sol.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 16, 2015, 11:49:51 AM
I think this is a common problem with the older millenials.  We were raised to believe in our dreams, and you can be whatever you want, and everyone is special.  Well, the thing is- not everyone is special. Most people aren't. Unless your dream is to be a mid-level office worker, you probably won't get to be whatever you want.  Imagine if the whole generation got to be astronauts and the president of the USA like we were all told we could be...it just can't happen.

It was hard for me to come to terms with this, because I was a bright overachiever as a child. I did a ton of volunteer work, I made a difference. And now, I don't.  It was especially hard because I had a near-death accident, and lots of people would tell me "God kept you around for something special."  You know how much pressure that puts on a person?  As far as I can tell, God kept me around because there was too much processing at the Pearly Gates that day, because I'm average and ordinary.

Maybe your mission in life is to smile at a person who was having a bad day, who will then go on to have a better day, go home and cook a nice dinner for their wife, who will then have "special time" and give birth to the person who ends up curing a rare form of cancer. You'll have never known that you made a difference, but perhaps without that smile the bad day would turn worse, and the cancer never cured.  The universe is weird. 

Just figure out what you want to do and go for it. Don't worry about being the best at something or being known and famous.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: HenryDavid on March 16, 2015, 11:51:24 AM
I remember the day my mother told me her expectations were fulfilled when I managed to avoid any jail time by the age of 30.
So, expectation levels differ.
Not doing anything evil is already better than some people.
Being a good friend. Setting a decent example for kids who know you.
That kind of stuff is way more valuable than all the celebrity success CEO by 30 BS our culture spews.
Ordinary living and appreciating life is plenty good enough. Don't let anyone tell  you different.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: DSA on March 16, 2015, 11:55:58 AM
I'm in computer science, and one big issue for many people, especially if they're part of the whole Silicon Valley startup world, is the obsession with "change the world!" "disrupt everything" and all that. There's a weird sense that if you're not some awesome 10x rockstar ninja programmer working on the Next Big Thing That Will Revolutionize X, you're not doing anything worthwhile.

I read a nice post about this concept a while back:
http://www.moreright.net/on-saving-the-world-and-other-delusions/

Quote

On Saving the World and Other Delusions
Posted on March 8, 2015 by Athrelon
1.

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who suffered a crisis of faith of sorts. His startup, which initially had an extremely ambitious, world-altering business plan, had to retrench and start to find a more modest product-market fit. He was upset, not so much because of decreased prospects for a big dollar exit, but because, as he put it, ďif Iím not trying to save the world, whatís the point of all this?Ē

[...]

For a long time I regarded the save-the-world thing as a basically harmless motivating delusion, the nerd equivalent of the coachís pre-game pep talk where he tells your team that, against all odds and in the face of all objective evidence to the contrary, you are a bunch of winners and are going to take home the division trophy. But seeing my friend having his motivational system semi-permanently warped was something of a wake-up call, and got me thinking about how to avoid being sucked into that attractor. Itís tough because the tools of quantitative analysis that underpin this change-the-world heuristic are valid and indeed valuable. But these observations suggest that we should be wary of how easy it is to smuggle in the assumption that our benchmark should be a totally unrealistic amount of efficacy. And at the same times they argue for keeping a diversified life-meaning portfolio Ė you should include things like family success, physical and emotional quality of life, human relationships, and even relative social status as part of how you measure your life.

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Alim Nassor on March 16, 2015, 12:22:46 PM
Be amazing to your wife and children and children's children.  That's way more important than being a CEO or an Olympian.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Gone Fishing on March 16, 2015, 12:25:55 PM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.

I've known some of these types, none of which seem very happy.  Instead, I'm looking for the deep satisfaction that comes from charting your own course on a daily basis.  On occasion, I do find myself wishing for just a little fame, especially when people talk about how successful so and so is.    But then I remember how fickle fame is. Today's front page is tomorrow's litter!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Pyrroc on March 16, 2015, 12:28:04 PM
TL;DR

If making a difference meant that you had to make it with a big splash or fame, maybe you should look at why you thought you needed that.

You can make a difference without hitting "The Big Time".
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Numbers Man on March 16, 2015, 12:31:06 PM
Watch the movie "Big Fish". That movie might enlighten you.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: RFAAOATB on March 16, 2015, 12:53:18 PM
What great things do you want to do with your life?
I know I want to be a deca-millionaire, have a child, get promoted to management, and create a life of unbridled luxury beyond the typical median experience.  I also want to be Wikipedia level famous and have a statue of my image built. 

My athletic days are behind me.  If I train hard I might be able to win another local MMA fight.  If I invest all my mental energy in getting to physical condition I can get more bling for my National Guard career.  In a few years I might get promoted to management at my office.  And the power of compound interest should get my net worth to decamillionaire within 50 years.  Then I can afford my statue or do some internet famous worthy project like write about every town in some state or have myself elected mayor.

But first we need to get the money.  Once you've scratched and saved your way to financial independence, there will come a choice when you get to decide if that's enough, or if you want to go BIG.  Don't lament not doing anything particularly great until you get to that point and decide enough.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Killerbrandt on March 16, 2015, 01:07:18 PM
I had the same mindset out of college! I wanted to be a CEO or big shot. Even when I joined the government, I wanted to make it to the top! But after seeing all the top people stress so much and work crazy hours missing family and friend events, I decided to just find a comfortable job that allowed me to have free time to do what I wanted. It took awhile to figure that part out, but I want to be able to travel the world with my wife and friends. I want to experience as many cultures as possible and see all the amazing natural wonders with my wife and friends. Therefore, I am staying debt free so I can travel right now and at the same time putting over 60 percent into investments, so I can retire early and travel even more.

Good Luck figuring it out!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MrsPete on March 16, 2015, 01:43:01 PM
This.  This.  'Average' in our privileged position is beautiful, fulfilling, and can be amazing every single day with the right attitude.  Thank you Sol.
Yep, I think the "I am so unique and special that I will do something outstanding with my life" comes -- in part -- from the not-so-old philosophy of "every kid gets a trophy". 

I'm thinking of a teacher friend of mine who's about 30 now, and she laughingly says, "I'm a winner.  All my friends are winners.  Everyone in my generation is a winner.  Even when we compete against one another and someone loses, we ALL win.  We feel this entitlement to win, be right, be successful -- even when we aren't winners, aren't right, aren't successful -- deep down in our bones.  It doesn't matter that the facts are stacked against us -- in our minds, it is a fact." 

It sounds better when she says it -- humorous and sarcastic, and spot on truthful.

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 16, 2015, 01:47:53 PM
Yep, I think the "I am so unique and special that I will do something outstanding with my life" comes -- in part -- from the not-so-old philosophy of "every kid gets a trophy". 


What is so weird is when I was a kid (I'm just a bit older than the OP)- we were taught we were so unique and would go on to outstanding things; but not everyone got a trophy, and often there weren't participation ribbons. You had to do something to be a winner. But everyone was encouraged that they'd find the thing they won at.

 Though I do remember M&Ms changing to "You are not a winner" instead of "You are a loser" on their awards packaging.  So the pandering was starting...
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: OR on March 16, 2015, 02:22:05 PM
Great question and great reading material.  Thanks everyone.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: gillstone on March 16, 2015, 02:34:08 PM
The story of the Millennial Generation.  We were told we were so bright, so special, so wonderful that each of us could be a world-changing individual.  Unfortunately the reality of life and statistics is such that not every single person can be above average.  The message was well-intentioned, but poorly delivered.  It built up self-esteem, but it ignored self-efficacy. 

Rather than being told that you have control over your fate and that your decisions do make an impact on your life, we were told that we would all be super awesome special unicorn-riding CEO lawyer doctors.

I sympathize with the OP.  I've been there.  I came to terms with it by realizing that the messages fed to us as kids resulting in us holding goals that were unrealistic and to a certain extent, not really our goals.  If the mark of success is being CEO or President of the United States, then the goal of City Council or small business is too small to be considered a real goal. 

I realized that what I wanted was not a big job title before 30 (learned that by having it and promptly regretting it).  I realized that I wanted to have a job where I could say I did some kind of good over the course of my career while still being a present and active father and husband.  I wanted to be a part of my community, not leader of the free world.

Take a minute to think about what you really want to do with your time and put aside voices that say what you ought to be when you "grow up".  There is nothing wrong with having an uncool job if its what you find to be fulfilling and its at a place you can be happy.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: mollyjade on March 16, 2015, 02:55:16 PM

Here is a great essay I read several months ago related to happiness and the feeling of meaning in the world. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html
Thanks for posting that.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MissMoneyBags on March 16, 2015, 03:29:12 PM
The thing about the people who achieve these great things, is that they have incredible drive. They will do ANYTHING to achieve their goals, including selling their own grandmother. That drive usually comes from an unhappy place (bullying at school, bereavement, poverty, unloving parents etc).

I know a famous billionaire, and he's the most unpleasant man I've ever met. I seriously doubt he's in any way happy. The world will remember him, but everyone around him are there because he pays them - including his partner and family - he has no kids. I just don't see his life as being something to aspire to. Regardless of how much money he's made, and how much he's achieved, it looks empty to me.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Philociraptor on March 16, 2015, 03:33:35 PM
Posting to subscribe so I can come back and read later. I too struggle with meaning issues. I don't really see the point in living, but wish to avoid pain and therefore death. I feel like I'm simple aimlessly wandering through life. I do like the idea of not having to go to work each day though, so I'm working towards that. Goals help.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: EricL on March 16, 2015, 03:41:26 PM
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- Sheakspeare
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: SK Joyous on March 16, 2015, 03:51:16 PM
This is an interesting take on this topic (not sure of the various posters' demographic)

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/09/why-generation-y-yuppies-are-unhappy.html
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: arebelspy on March 16, 2015, 04:06:31 PM
- Sheakspeare

Ozymandias was by PB Shelley, not Shakespeare.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Rural on March 16, 2015, 07:06:28 PM
Normally I wouldn't post about Motgomery Gentry. But the concept of "a life you can hang your hat on" is worthwhile, I think.


http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PXg8E0kzF1c
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: mozar on March 16, 2015, 07:20:29 PM
You most certainly still have time to do any or all of these. People become famous by starting something and persevering for long periods. What's sad to me is people saying they didn't achieve something by 30 so it can never happen. Even prodigies often don't get famous until after 30. I had an acquaintance who wanted to marry her partner but she was 30, so it was never going to happen. WTF?

For the record I was famous for two years for being a CEO of a company that went viral. Trying to keep up with the demand meant working 40 hours a week on top of my 40 hour a week day job. I was interviewed often and at the height I was quoted in the NY Times.  On top of that I had constant pressure from my local community to keep doing what I was doing because I was a catalyst for change in my city or some bullshit. The city was changing anyway. It was so gross to have people throwing themselves at me because I was "famous" and I had these new "friends" who just wanted to "pick my brain." I got so burnt out that I quit everything and didn't leave my apartment for four months.

When I was a kid I was showing talent for singing. I performed in concert with Bobby McFerrin and performed on a studio album. I had no desire to continue in that unstable lifestyle of constant touring.

Sometimes I feel that drive to work towards something amazing again, but then I dial it back when I remember how much work it is with no guarantees.

I also want to point out that the vast majority of famous people had a huge head start in life. Beyonce's parents are involved in the industry and new who to introduce her to. Kerry Washington and Gweneth Paltrow went to the Spence school for girls. One of the most prestigious k-12 schools in the country. The point is these people were already rich before they got famous. So start now, and in 15-20 years you could be famous.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: BlueHouse on March 16, 2015, 07:39:08 PM
There are Olympic sports that you can learn know even at this late stage and still become Olympic material. Biathlon and curling are two that come to mind. I haven't given up on the dream of becoming a biathlete yet.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Annamal on March 16, 2015, 07:47:05 PM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.

I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20ís at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would do ďsomething greatĒ with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

Iím having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

For what it's worth, you live in New Zealand...it's possible to do great things simply by virtue of the fact that we are in a small place in terms of the wider world (and to a certain extent we still admire those who dedicate their lives to others.

Look at Sam Johnson and the student volunteer army after the earthquakes or Sister Loyola in Wellington http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/gardening-with-soul-2013

I would count both of those people as doing great things with their lives.

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Gerard on March 16, 2015, 08:03:00 PM
I think you can be slightly world-changing or semi-famous, if you choose that path instead of some of the excellent ones that other posters have suggested.

Pick an area that's small or that doesn't offer the potential for great wealth, and you may find that you're better, or better organized, or more caring or thoughtful, than many other people who chase that particular goal. Then PERSIST. Most successful indie bands, or small publishing houses, or highly focussed charities, don't succeed because they're unnaturally awesome. They succeed by pushing on through difficult times, remaining true to their values, and being good to people around them for so long that they develop the skill and reputation to do wonderful (if not always gigantic) things.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MrsCoolCat on March 16, 2015, 08:07:29 PM
but there are also many of people who do many many small things, that when accumulated, become amazing.

+++2!!!
Good luck. I had a "mid 20s crisis", too, but eventually got over it by focusing on the smaller things in life. I like animals. One day I want to volunteer at an animal shelter. This is just one example.
Title: Re: Realising you aren’t going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MsPeacock on March 16, 2015, 08:15:24 PM
This is a great thread - made my evening.

I think a common (maybe) fantasy of early adulthood is the wish to be a "rock star."  Fame, recognition, changing the world, something...

And then things change - you maybe have kids, or you go to grad school, or your brain matures (sorry - but it is still maturing in your 20s), or you start to feel your age physically (get those marathons out of your system before you turn 40) - and suddenly you realize that the small things you do matter. That our world is made of up of individual actions. Some big, some small. Some few will get the chance to make gigantic impact - they will be presidents or Nobel prize winners, or inventors. But most of us will be average. Yes, it matters if you compost, or you give $10 to charity, or you are kind to a stranger who needs help, you are a good friend, or you "do the right thing" - even if it doesn't lead to fame, or wealth, or whatever. What you do matters. Who you are matters. It all matters and it is all something and it is all "great."
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: aschmidt2930 on March 16, 2015, 08:31:07 PM
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: BCBiker on March 16, 2015, 08:38:29 PM
BCBiker-- many thanks for that link. Great article and very thought provoking read.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

I remember reading this and thinking this community would enjoy it! This was the perfect opportunity to fit it into the conversation!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: GetItRight on March 16, 2015, 08:59:40 PM
Welcome to life? Most people are not going to be famous for doing doing great things, and most will not be rich in the traditional mainstream sense. You can have a rich life and do great things that are rewarding to you though. I do great things that only a few people are aware of and are very rewarding to me, those things are my hobbies. I feel I'm doing great things that relatively few people do every time I'm at the lake at sunrise running the course on my ski, when I pick up a wrench to build an engine or transmission, or lay a bead welding new metal when restoring a vehicle. Many great things go unnoticed by the masses and will only be appreciated by the few who recognize and understand it. Be content with the great things you do and try not to worry so much about what anyone else thinks or does if it doesn't affect you.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: stlbrah on March 16, 2015, 09:04:19 PM
I used to feel that way, I am also 27. Now I just do what I want and sometimes life feels like a real life James Bond movie.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: frugaldrummer on March 16, 2015, 09:06:46 PM
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ASi_yBm-mr4
Reminds me of a song by a dear musician friend of mine, with the refrain "who's gonna save the world, now that I've stepped down"
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Kiwi Mustache on March 17, 2015, 12:15:58 AM
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.

The answer for me is.

No I wouldn't like to be a CEO. I've seen the pressure and time away from family and would be happy being a middle manager. Earning $100k plus salary would be a huge achievement for me. I intend to work my way up to be a distribution centre manager over the coming decades.

I do cycling for fitness and used to do triathlon. The time involved to be top class in these sports requires you to wake up at 5am to exercise for two hours, work all day, then train from 6-8pm at night. When your friends ask you out to dinner for the weekend you decline because you have to be in bed by 9pm every night. So no, I wouldn't like to be an olympic athlete. However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains, go hiking with friends and cycle to work every day. Nothing "great" that is going to get me on the pages of the national newspaper however.

No I wouldn't like to be an actor or singer. I have no inclination to do either or the fame that comes with it.

I love researching, asking bold questions and improving my knowledge. I'm happy to research investing methods, personal finance, exercise physiology, etc for hours or end and never get bored of it. Would I like to be a professior at a university? Probably not.

I guess I've answered my own questions?

Be a middle manager, keep fit for fun, not be famous and increase my knowledge in areas I enjoy. I also want to create a bigger circle of friends (which I'm doing by joining more groups in fitness/hobbies).
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Annamal on March 17, 2015, 01:44:09 AM
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.

The answer for me is.

No I wouldn't like to be a CEO. I've seen the pressure and time away from family and would be happy being a middle manager. Earning $100k plus salary would be a huge achievement for me. I intend to work my way up to be a distribution centre manager over the coming decades.

I do cycling for fitness and used to do triathlon. The time involved to be top class in these sports requires you to wake up at 5am to exercise for two hours, work all day, then train from 6-8pm at night. When your friends ask you out to dinner for the weekend you decline because you have to be in bed by 9pm every night. So no, I wouldn't like to be an olympic athlete. However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains, go hiking with friends and cycle to work every day. Nothing "great" that is going to get me on the pages of the national newspaper however.

No I wouldn't like to be an actor or singer. I have no inclination to do either or the fame that comes with it.

I love researching, asking bold questions and improving my knowledge. I'm happy to research investing methods, personal finance, exercise physiology, etc for hours or end and never get bored of it. Would I like to be a professior at a university? Probably not.

I guess I've answered my own questions?

Be a middle manager, keep fit for fun, not be famous and increase my knowledge in areas I enjoy. I also want to create a bigger circle of friends (which I'm doing by joining more groups in fitness/hobbies).

There's always government work, the pay is worse but you have a chance to make a real difference (and make the papers if that is what you really want).
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Lyssa on March 17, 2015, 01:54:42 AM
Everyone feels this way at some point.  Einstein and Obama and Bono have had these feelings.

If you are the kind of person who is only happy striving towards a goal, then strive.  Accept that no goal will ever be great enough, and strive anyway.  Then die feeling unfulfilled.

Or, if you're like most of humanity, try to accept that your purpose in life is not to meet anyone else's definition of success.  Only you get to decide whether your life has been meaningful or pathetic.  If you don't like what you see of yourself, you have the power to change it.

I almost barfed at my high school graduation ceremony when the speaker tried to convince the graduates that we were the next generation of doctors and lawyers and world-changing politicians.  No, we were a class of average white kids from an average school, and even at that age I could tell we all had average destinies.  Most of them are insurance reps or car salesman or housewives, and that is totally fine. 

What do I mean by "fine"?  Think about how awesome your life is.  You have hot and cold running water any time of day or night.  Your local grocery store contains a bounty far greater than any King or Pharaoh could ever muster.  You can fly between continents in great magical machines, and you have access to the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips and/or in your pocket.  Your life is better than that of 99.9% of humans who have ever lived.  You are immeasurably blessed.

But you don't have an olympic medal, and you never will.  And that's fine, because if everyone had one it would be just like hot and cold running water, and you'd find something else to be depressed about not having.

Tis human nature to be unhappy with what you have, no matter how amazing it is.

Very true and very beautifully written.

What has worked for me in addition of comparing my life to the one of the overwhelming majority of humans of both past and present was me learning and understanding two concepts (which took me a few years): 1. evolution and 2. how our brain works and what happens if it is hurt or deteriorates. Me understanding the basics of evolution has shown me how much it took to cause my existence, how very unlikely this course of events was and how incredibly lucky I am just by virtue of existing. Recent works of neuroscientists and surgeons has made me realize - not just intelectually understand but accepting the truth of - that our brain is our personality, that there is no ghost in the machine and mortality is real.

Those two things have put everything else in perspective for me and deepened my sense of how incredibly, outrageously lucky I am. Everybody on this board has already won the cosmic and genetic lottery. It's ok not getting a nobel prize or olympic medal on top.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: CAtoTX on March 17, 2015, 02:05:30 AM
I respectfully suggest that you redefine what "great" means.  Great means getting the most out of each day, not giving up and settling for predictable drudgery.  I'm not suggesting jumping out of airplanes or anything, but why not make time to give back to the community?  Or engage in a hobby...multiple hobbies...

I'm not a CEO, but I'm a board chairman...of a nonprofit medical clinic that serves the poor.  So I'm the CEO's boss. 

You only get to experience this life once...enjoy it and give back. Be generous with time and talent.  Model that behavior and raise kids who don't have to be told to get out and volunteer.  I started volunteering at the local children's home, holding crack babies.  That's an eye-opener...and a great way to pick up tips on how to soothe a crying baby!
 
Long ago I started to do 2 things.  I would go to the library and get one book from every section of the Dewey decimal system (grouped by subject) so I was forced out of my comfort zone and read philosophy, history, travel, crafts, true crime, biography, etc.
And I made a list of 10 ways to spend my free time.  The list is continually updated.  In years past it contained triathlons, surfski, knitting, genealogy, carpentry, guitar, writing, etc. 

I wonder that people spend so much time and effort trying to claw their way to the top and face all of that pressure to stay there...when being an everyday hero can be more satisfying. 

Good luck to you. 
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MrsPete on March 17, 2015, 06:21:05 AM
Though I do remember M&Ms changing to "You are not a winner" instead of "You are a loser" on their awards packaging.  So the pandering was starting...


That particular one never caught my attention.  I guess I need to eat more M&Ms? 
The story of the Millennial Generation.  We were told we were so bright, so special, so wonderful that each of us could be a world-changing individual.  Unfortunately the reality of life and statistics is such that not every single person can be above average.  The message was well-intentioned, but poorly delivered.  It built up self-esteem, but it ignored self-efficacy. 


I'm older than you -- I was never told I was extra bright, extra special, extra wonderful, and I suspect my life's been a little easier because of it. 

I think it's only become worse with today's teens though.  They're solidly sold on the idea that they can do anything, but they've totally missed the second part of that line, "if you work hard enough".  I'm thinking of a time last year after exams.  I was in a classroom with 10-12 of my high school seniors, and we were all talking.  They were all happy and were discussing what they'd all be doing when they came back for their 10-year reunion.  The general idea was that they'd all be wildly successful -- college degrees, big job titles, vacation homes, PLUS married with a couple perfect children.  AND THEY WERE SERIOUS.  They genuinely believe that a future US president (and VP), a couple NFL players, several future pop singers, and a number of doctors and lawyers sat among their graduating class.  Thing is, I know this particular group of 10-12.  They probably averaged a 1.2 GPA, and several of them  had GPAs lower than 1.0 -- they'd have to do remedial classes to be admitted to community college.  They were all at school AFTER exams because they'd missed too many school days, and they were required to "make up time".  Yet they were so certain they were "on their way".  It made me laugh a little inside, and I felt bad for the disappointment they are going to face. 


The thing about the people who achieve these great things, is that they have incredible drive. They will do ANYTHING to achieve their goals, including selling their own grandmother. That drive usually comes from an unhappy place (bullying at school, bereavement, poverty, unloving parents etc).

I know a famous billionaire, and he's the most unpleasant man I've ever met. I seriously doubt he's in any way happy. The world will remember him, but everyone around him are there because he pays them - including his partner and family - he has no kids. I just don't see his life as being something to aspire to. Regardless of how much money he's made, and how much he's achieved, it looks empty to me.
Yeah, most of us -- EVEN IF we have the drive and ambition -- aren't willing to sell our lives for that kind of fortune.  We aren't willing to miss all our kids' softball games, travel constantly, spend every moment at home on the phone or computer. 

I don't think I know any billionaires, and millionaires aren't all that rare anymore -- but I do know some people who've genuinely prioritized work first, and it's not a pretty picture.


Finally, two thoughts: 

I'm thinking about a quote by Mother Teresa -- I might not have it exactly right:  You can do no great things, only small things with great love.  

And I'm thinking about a day when I was in the high school Sunday School class, and one girl was talking about "the American dream", which she defined as becoming rich and famous.  All the other kids were shaking their heads in agreement, adding comments.  I wasn't part of the discussion, so I didn't say anything, but since when is that "the American dream"?  Has it genuinely changed for today's teens? 
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 17, 2015, 06:49:55 AM
Though I do remember M&Ms changing to "You are not a winner" instead of "You are a loser" on their awards packaging.  So the pandering was starting...


That particular one never caught my attention.  I guess I need to eat more M&Ms? 

There were lots of news stories about it. Apparently calling people losers was too negative.

Edit: Ah, my memory is foggy. It went from "You are not a winner" to "This wrapper is not a winner".
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-05-15/features/8902010245_1_wrapper-candy-bar-winner
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MLKnits on March 17, 2015, 06:57:02 AM
OP, you might want to read up a bit on current psychological theories about the stages of development. The late teens and early-to-mid twenties, roughly, are when we figure out who we are (identity), but the long chunk after that is when we focus on what we'll leave behind. Children are, of course, the classic "legacy," but if you aren't interested in having children (or having them yet) you're left sort of where you were at 19 or 20, cycling through "what am I doing with my life??" instead of "who am I??"

In other words: it's normal! I don't think it's a millenial thing, either, although we may get it earlier or more intensely because of those influences.

I can tell you that I "fulfilled" my legacy cravings--at least thus far--by opening a small business. I'd never wanted to be an entrepreneur (fell into it) but almost immediately it soothed all of my "what am I doing with my life??" concerns. Now I can point to our logo, our client base, our growing staff, and go: "I'm doing that. I'll have done that." I'm not saying you necessarily want to open a business (it's a big undertaking!); what I mean is that there are lots of things you can do that will make you feel like you've created a legacy, and help fulfill the questions your development is trying to answer.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: lise on March 17, 2015, 06:57:41 AM
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.
However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains


Kiwi Mustache - I already think you're great because you want to climb mountains and I know it's something I'll never achieve ( I don't want too but so admire people that do ).
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Retire-Canada on March 17, 2015, 07:36:58 AM

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

My name will not be on a movie's credits, I am unlikely to ever lead my country or be invited on the Jimmy Fallon Show to lipsync battle with Emma Stone.

Doesn't bother me one bit.

I kick ass and take names in my day-to-day life. I have strong friendships and have accomplished a lot at work leading challenging projects.

I am proud that I am well respected in my social and work circles for getting difficult shit done and being dependable.

I spend a lot of time contemplating my life and aligning my day-to-day reality with my beliefs.

You can strive to knock things out of the park in your work and home lives. Be the best person you can be at any moment in time. That doesn't require anything from outside of yourself and can give you a supreme sense of satisfaction.

Quote
Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

^^^^ this quote is something I think about often. It doesn't say after enlightenment get a 1hr interview on the Oprah Show or get promoted as the youngest CEO your firm has ever had. ;)

-- Vik
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Pigeon on March 17, 2015, 08:05:17 AM
A lot of famous people  who do great things are in many respects crappy human beings or at least lousy people in some regards.  I don't think there are many ethical CEOs.  They might get rich and maybe do some good, but generally they are also doing a lot of not so good stuff, like killing off the planet, treating employees poorly, etc.

A lot of people who are lauded for their amazing accomplishments also have a not so lovely side as well.  Mother Teresa, while spouting about the poor and suffering, did little to get the poor and suffering decent medical care, the kind she wanted for herself.  MLK was a womanizer.  Many driven people tend to neglect their own families and can be lousy parents and spouses, while everyone around them thinks they are wonderful.

I work at a job that makes the world a better place.  Not in a huge way, but in a small way, and I do my part.  I feel good about what I do, even if I'm not curing cancer.  I also am raising healthy, well-adjusted, kind and empathetic kids. I'm helping take care of some old folks and we volunteer with a couple of organizations.  I think people tend to overlook the small, day to day accomplishments that really do matter. 
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MoneyCat on March 17, 2015, 08:11:01 AM
I think you should start a Fight Club.  But remember -- the first rule is that you don't talk about it.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: crapula on March 17, 2015, 08:26:13 AM
I never want somebody to feel worse off for knowing me.

I really like this philosophy, and converse: wanting everyone to feel better off for knowing you.  It all goes back to your sphere of influence and making meaningful impact where you can.  You'd be surprised how big of a difference you can make this way, though you may never find out how much.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: brandino29 on March 17, 2015, 08:30:44 AM
I'm late to the thread but lots of interesting commentary.  Two thoughts. 

First -- whatever you are, be a good one.  Does it matter what you are?  Not really. 

Second -- back in high school I remember meeting an old man who was lamenting the fact that "kids these days" aren't involved in community clubs/civics groups, e.g. the Lions or Kiwanis Clubs.  For some reason it resonated with me and I've grown to realize that we can all make an impact but we need to think local about it.  It's great what some of these rich and famous people do but we all know their names because they are so few (and most have benefitted from a lot of luck to get them where they are).  If you want to make an impact, focus on your neighborhood, your community, your town.  After all, it's where you're spending most of your time anyway.   
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: forummm on March 17, 2015, 08:44:31 AM
I've been a CEO and a CEO's boss. I've been a successful athlete and had friends win Olympic gold. I've achieved success in government and academics. I've known self-made multi-millionaires. I've met celebrities. I have more money at my age than 99%+ of people on this planet. I have a lot of accomplishments.

But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.

I know that I don't care enough about fame and riches to pursue them for their own sake. The same with power and other forms of success. Being a CEO doesn't mean anything special to me. It's about the tangible changes I can bring to the world.

What I'm getting at, is that it's not what you actually do. It's how you feel about whatever it is that you do. What I need to do is change how I look at the world I'm in as I go about life. Many of the rich and famous are far more miserable than many of the average middle class people in a developed country. I was just listening to an interview with Paul McCartney, and he can't go anywhere or do anything without people bothering him. You and I have so much more freedom to do what we want than this man who has accomplished so much and is adored by so many.

Enjoy your freedom. Do what you want with it. That's an accomplishment that many will never have.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: limeandpepper on March 17, 2015, 09:11:40 AM
Well, I love the idea of doing great things with my life, and the idea of achieving fame and fortune. But really, it's all just ego.

Luckily, I also have a slightly nihilistic mind. Also, to quote House, everybody dies. And unless you're, say, in the caliber of Einstein or Beethoven, you're not going to be remembered for a long time. Most CEOs and Olympic athletes are not going to be remembered a century from now. It's all fleeting. I don't mean to sound depressing, it is just what it is.

My partner helps me feel grounded in this respect. He probably has a bigger capacity for achieving fame than I do, yet he doesn't care at all. He just wants to do what makes him happy. And this is really the core of it. I imagine that many people want to do amazing things or whatever because they think it will make them fulfilled and happy. So just find out what you can do to give you that feeling of fulfillment and happiness. If it means you have to do something great, then go and do it. If you can't do it, or if you won't do it for any reason (fear, laziness, whatever), then stop dwelling about it, and go do something else.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Jon_Snow on March 17, 2015, 09:18:39 AM
I tend to think what I have accomplished thus far in my life is actually pretty great. Does it matter to me that my life's achievements will hardly register as a blip in the greater scheme of things? Nope.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Merrie on March 17, 2015, 09:34:43 AM
I've been there. I think the thing that helped me was learning what I would have to sacrifice to be significant. I have a friend who is in my field and I would call her work significant. I got to join her for a work day, and by the end of the day I was like, "I have no interest in this." When I took a step back, I saw that the people who were "significant" (in the way I wanted to be) sacrificed family (not seeing kids, divorces, etc), worked all the time, didn't have quality relationships. All they had was that "significant" work.


This is what I came to post too. It explains why I am not a hotshot in my career. I was not, and am not, willing to make the sacrifices to get in position to be a hotshot. Instead of planning and schmoozing and applying to do extra optional training after graduation, I had a baby. It was worth it. Even now when I know the extra training would have opened more options that might (maybe) make things easier now, I don't look back and wish I had chosen differently.

Or to quote Garden State, "I'm okay with being unimpressive. I sleep better."
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: EricL on March 17, 2015, 09:45:52 AM
- Sheakspeare

Ozymandias was by PB Shelley, not Shakespeare.

Ouch!  Indeed it was. 😬.  I remembered it as being written by Bill, typed his name and the poem title into Google, and received my answer.  Funny that how you ask a question can determine the answer even for something so mundane.

As for the OP, he should also consider his life in terms of probability.  OK, maybe based on his life so far and his SAT scores he's an ordinary schlub who's never going to amount to greatness.  But as they say in Vegas and Wall Street, past performance is no guarantee of future performance.  Ordinary people sometimes stumble into extraordinary circumstances that demand greatness - which they somehow deliver.  Likewise, sometimes the great and the wise do the reverse.  So the OP should suspend his self judgement for his deathbed when probability dictates the most precise answer. And even then understand people who survive him may differ in opinion.  The watching Fight Club and having a drink advice: 👍.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Secretly Saving on March 17, 2015, 10:38:20 AM
I remember the day my mother told me her expectations were fulfilled when I managed to avoid any jail time by the age of 30.
So, expectation levels differ.
Not doing anything evil is already better than some people.
Being a good friend. Setting a decent example for kids who know you.
That kind of stuff is way more valuable than all the celebrity success CEO by 30 BS our culture spews.
Ordinary living and appreciating life is plenty good enough. Don't let anyone tell  you different.

This post made me smile and laugh.  Great!
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Gone Fishing on March 17, 2015, 11:56:44 AM
But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.
(snip)
Enjoy your freedom. Do what you want with it. That's an accomplishment that many will never have.

This.

ER is a difficult accomplishment to show off.  You can't go around waiving your Vanguard statement (other than here) without everyone hating you. But, most of us do like a little praise when we have worked so hard for so long to achieve a goal.  Once you are FIRE, you can persue all sorts of interesting things besides putting keystroke A into textbox B in your cubicle 40+ hours a week, and have the time to pursue them to the nth degree all without neglecting your friends or family (that Maslow guy was on to something).  Like or not, when you spend enough time to get good at something that is not too taboo (like finances) to talk about, you WILL get some attention.   

One of my FIRE goals is to turn my little 6 acres of land into a productive perennial tree crop farm.  If I do it right (and my kids do not sell it to someone with a bulldozer but even that will not get rid of the bamboo:)) it should continue to be productive for the next 100+ years.  It fills my legacy need, desire to design, is infinitely improvable, is something tangible and productive I can show off vs my Vanguard statement which I cannot.  Give me 20-30 years and I can guarantee my farm will garner a little bit of attention in the right circles as trees are a lot like stocks, no one can go back and recreate something you did 30 years ago without a ton of money.   I am looking forward to having a few ooohs and aaahs over my accomplishments someday.

Apply this to anything you want, art, music, language, etc.  Get good at something more tangible than cube work and people WILL be impressed.  As others have said, these things take years of hard work and dedication.  Anything someone can do in a few short years out of school (minus a few notable examples) is generally going to be more common and as such, less impressive.     
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: rpr on March 17, 2015, 01:00:05 PM
Great piece in Leo Babauta's zenhabits on this titled "The Source of Contentment" => http://zenhabits.net/source (http://zenhabits.net/source)/

Exhale -- It's been a while since I read Leo's posts. Thank you so much for this link.

I have to say that of all the responses in this excellent thread, IMO the above link is the most useful of all. That article is short and simple and well-worth the read. Thank you.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Kaspian on March 17, 2015, 01:23:55 PM
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.
a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20ís at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would
I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel do ďsomething greatĒ with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

Iím having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

You never know what's going to come up or what you'll learn...  It's weird.

- At 23 I was with a band that had a few songs on the radio.  I enjoyed playing music with those guys, but the rest of the business (other than the occasional great live show and the girls) could go to hell.  The only part I miss is being locked away in a garage somewhere drinking beer and writing and playing music with those 2 other guys.

- At 25 some of my writing was published in literary magazines.  That was sort of fun.  But write for a "living"?  Errr... No.

- I spent my vacation days in my 30s going to a place in Europe every year and the Caribbean.  I still do that, but not as often.

- 36 started going to sci-fi conventions with my friends.  We have crazy costumes.  People want to pose and take their photos with you like you're a superstar.  <-- This is a lot of work but a hoot!! 

- At 38, I went to a ranch in the desert in Arizona and learned how to properly horseback ride.  ...And visited Tombstone.  <-- Amazing!!  I love horseback riding now.

- At 38, I also went to Costa Rica and learned how to surf.  It was fun but the amount of work involved in the reward?  Fuck that.  I was panting and my arms felt like spaghetti after only an hour.  ...Not worth it.

- At 39 (!!!) was cast into a bit part in a TV show they were filming in town after a friend dragged me to an audtion.  ("The Kids in the Hall".)  Worst job ever!!  Boring, horrible, dumb hours, sitting around for hours, catered lunches, wearing a stupid cop costume in direct sun in August.  Fuck that!  I wanted to go back to my dreary, air-conditioned, government work cube so bad.  Seeing myself on TV in a show was cool, but the rest was such shite I vowed to never do another one of those.

- 40, I went to Memphis and Graceland.  <-- Brilliant!

- 42, Swam with giant sea turtles in the open ocean.  <-- Aces!

- 43, I went to fricken' Transylvania, Romania!!  <-- Again, brilliant!

So, my point is that there's still an avalanche of very, very cool shit coming your way if you keep your mind open to it.  My experiences with fame generally boil down to "fuck that!".  I'd rather be on a beach, or travelling, or sitting on an outdoor patio having a beer with friends.  Potential and fame and admiration can really kiss my ass for all I care.  Have fun, be a good person, do things you want, save for them, don't destroy the environment.  Next time you think it'd be fun to be on a TV show or be a great surfer athlete or something else mental, know that it's not for everyone.  ...And not necessarily any fun at all.   Maybe I could have been a TV personality or a rockstar if I seriously clamped down and pursued it.  (But I would have been miserable.)




Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Kaspian on March 17, 2015, 01:51:24 PM
Oh, AND the bands I loved?  Kurt Cobain?  The Ramones?  I wouldn't trade places with them for all the tea in England. 
Some people I like, like Neil Gaiman, look to be happy.  But he's a bit of an ugly mug.  Glad I'm not him too.
Knowing what I know now, the only people I'd trade places with are Batman, Dr. Who, and maybe Charlize Theron (in which case I'd have a whole lotta lingerie and mirror shopping to do before I locked myself away for a whole month).
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: galliver on March 17, 2015, 02:38:59 PM
I've been there. I think the thing that helped me was learning what I would have to sacrifice to be significant. I have a friend who is in my field and I would call her work significant. I got to join her for a work day, and by the end of the day I was like, "I have no interest in this." When I took a step back, I saw that the people who were "significant" (in the way I wanted to be) sacrificed family (not seeing kids, divorces, etc), worked all the time, didn't have quality relationships. All they had was that "significant" work.

That shift really happened after I got married (at 27). Before then, I was totally career focused and things never quite went where I expected. I let go as I realized I was significant to the people closest to me, and that's more important now.

+1

I'm 26 and should be wrapping up my PhD within 12-18 mos, so I've been thinking a lot about my next steps. One thing I realized is that while I think I could follow the postdoc->tenure track prof route, I'm not certain I want to. Not just because it's a high-pressure/high-time-commitment environment, but because the past 4 years have shown me that certain aspects of my personality are exactly opposite what a research professor needs to be, and I know that fighting myself on those aspects day in-day out would make me miserable. I've also realized that I get far more satisfaction from helping a friend or colleague solve a problem (assisting with an experimental setup or recommending a program/tool they were unfamiliar with) or from seeing the light in a student's eyes when they "get it" than I do from getting long-awaited results or giving a research presentation. I like getting results, but the feeling is more "OMG finally I don't have to deal with this anymore" than "I'm a rockstar." When I help or teach someone, I do feel like a rockstar. I haven't completely made up my mind yet, but I have 80% convinced myself that it's OK to take a different, less ambitious path. And that grad school wasn't necessarily a waste of time in that case, if I learned things about myself and about the world in the process.

I guess what I'm saying: don't accept society's definition of 'success' or 'greatness' as your own by default. Consider what you are willing to give and what you want to get as a result, and how to make those match up. And then, in the excellent words of President Obama in an interview with HONY:
Quote
I was thinking maybe this isnít what I was cut out to do. I was 40 years old, and Iíd invested a lot of time and effort into something that didnít seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that Iíve felt stuck, is to remind myself that itís about the work. Because if youíre worrying about yourselfóif youíre thinking: ĎAm I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?í Ė then youíre going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, youíll always have a path. Thereís always something to be done.

(Not to be taken as an endorsement of Obama as a whole; I just really love that story/passage/interview.)
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: jeromedawg on March 17, 2015, 05:02:34 PM
Sorry, I can't really offer much advice but can empathize.

I struggle with the same thing as you. Even now, at the ripe old age 34 jk.

My life is nothing spectacular. In fact, if you ask me what I do [for work], I'll probably have trouble telling you the details most likely because I just don't care. Sometimes the insignificance bogs me down (like right now) and I get into this weird state where I ask myself over and over "what have I done with my life?" and then I compare myself to my peers, most of whom are very successful and wonder why I'm not like them or why I can't earn the incomes they earn or have the houses or cars that they have.

Sometimes I feel like I just want to punch a wall... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLiqJ8-T75A

At the end of the day, I think I'd be happy walking an empty beach with my fly-fishing rod and plenty of sun-protection. And then going home to a self-sustained farm that I built myself. I'm not quite sure that day will ever come but here's to hoping...
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Davids on March 17, 2015, 05:11:53 PM
I am 33, married with a baby. Having a baby is the greatest joy in my life, makes it feel more complete. From a professional stand point I have no desire to be a CEO or even a SVP, basically I want to be in a position where I make good money but with low stress so I can maintain a good work/life balance which is what I have right now. Anything higher that would cause more stress and increases hours worked and decreases time spent with family is not worth any potential salary bump.

I have been able to travel many times so I feel good about that. Just because I am not some successful entrepreneur or athlete means nothing to me. Waking up and being happy knowing that I have a good wife, great kid and a job that I don't mind going to is pretty darn good to me.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: workathomedad on March 17, 2015, 05:49:48 PM
It may be hard to see or believe now, but being a good husband (and father) is more important than "person X"'s big publicized achievement. At the end of your life, it is going to be what mattered the most.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MsRichLife on March 17, 2015, 05:59:56 PM
I had myself a good old quarter life crises when I was in my mid twenties. Now, in my late thirties with all the benefits of hindsight and some more wisdom than I had back then, I offer the following for your consideration. 

Have a good hard look inside yourself and get to understand your core values and your unique set of strengths. You may find what truly matters to you is not actually what you think right now.

Once I truly understood what makes ME tick, I restructured my life quite significantly to ensure I was living my more authentic life. Now I can align my goals to my values and strengths and life is infinitely more enjoyable and meaningful. 

I'm on my phone right now, but I'll come back to post links to some good resouces.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Spondulix on March 19, 2015, 12:24:05 AM
I've been a CEO and a CEO's boss. I've been a successful athlete and had friends win Olympic gold. I've achieved success in government and academics. I've known self-made multi-millionaires. I've met celebrities. I have more money at my age than 99%+ of people on this planet. I have a lot of accomplishments.

But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.
I've heard some investors say that they look for that drive in entrepreneurs - people who "succeed" at business because they can never live up to their own potential. They just continue to keep pushing and driving themselves harder because they have to prove to themselves.

The thing is... isn't that unhealthy? I used to have that mindset and it put me on a fast track to being at the top of my industry. Then I burnt out, which was when I realized that the voice in my head was 1. perfectionism, and 2. self-doubt and shame.

So it's funny - I used to think I'd never meet my potential cause I wasn't working hard enough, and it was driving me to work harder. Now, I accept that I won't meet my potential, but because it's ok, the drive is gone. I enjoy what I do, but I sorta don't care anymore. It's strange.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: valerieinthegallery on March 19, 2015, 09:53:46 AM
I am looking forward to reading this whole thread when I have more than a few free moments!

I am in the same boat, except nowhere near as accomplished as you, if it makes you feel any better!

I never really wanted to do anything "great", I suppose, but I still feel like such a loser. I don't use my college degree at ALL, because what I went to college for was something that I was GOOD at, but that I didn't enjoy at ALL. So I have been hopping from "job" to "job" - no career. I stay at a job until they don't need me anymore - seasonal, temporary, etc. My last position I really enjoyed and was hoping to stay there forever - I didn't make much, but enough to get by and I live pretty simply. But the position was cut due to budget cuts, and so I am out of a job again (aside from my other very part-time position) I have never had a "career" and if I did, I don't know what field it would be in! I keep thinking maybe I am not meant for a "career" - maybe I am meant to just have a nice comfortable little job to go to, punch in and out and go home. But I can't even find one of those! And the most I have ever made in a year is just under $30,000.

Oh, and did I mention that I am 37 years old and the mother of two teenagers?

What are my plans? Who knows? When the kids have moved out, I plan to sell the house and either rent a small place or build a tiny house. Maybe move somewhere warmer (I'm in the VERY Northeast). That's about it so far. Oh, yeah, and FIND A JOB. That one seems to be eluding me.

As for what I plan to do about not feeling accomplished? Eh. I don't think I need to be. A quiet little life with my cat and my books and I'm pretty content.

But yes, I have moments when I look around and I think "How did I get here??" I had so many plans when I was younger, so many things I was going to do, I had this picture in my head of how everything would look. But it is what it is. You just have to find a way to find happiness in however things are, I guess.

And from the sounds of your post, you are pretty well accomplished! And you're not even 30 yet, so there is time yet to dream.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: bacchi on March 19, 2015, 10:18:14 AM
The "7 Up" series relates to this thread. It's a profound and sober look at the lives of 14 youth as they grow up in England; or a non-fiction "Boyhood" without the uplifting ending.

They released the "56" episode in 2012.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Le0 on March 19, 2015, 10:24:37 AM
https://vimeo.com/63961985
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: boarder42 on March 19, 2015, 10:44:58 AM
but you're already doing something amazing you're retiring before most people even think about saving for retirement.. THAT is amazing
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: mrshudson on March 19, 2015, 11:16:14 AM
Also recommend the New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Best "cure" for the occasional bouts of existentialism.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: James on March 19, 2015, 11:22:33 AM
You are young. Lose the ball and chain and go live a little.


(A little tongue-in-cheek, but still serious about getting out and doing something that seems crazy to you right now. Doesn't have to cost a lot or mean a lot of travel, but don't stay the course once you know it's not what you want.)
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: brandino29 on March 23, 2015, 11:28:46 AM
Forgive me if this has already been shared here, but...you are not special.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Exflyboy on March 23, 2015, 11:49:24 AM
Somebody mentioned being a rockstar.

I have a friend who was a genuine rockstar in the late 60's early 70's (I won't mention his name). We have had several conversations about that lifestyle and how great it must be.

Over lunch one day he explained just how "great" it was... NOT.. yeah, made millions of dollars, snorted millions of dollars, slept with lots of girls he can't remember and its a wonder he is still alive.

He is now happy but broke... Most of his friends from that era died pretty young.

He told me that during that time of the constant grind of touring and living on a bus that all he wanted was to have a little house in the country with a wife and family!.. What??

I guess the moral of the story is the grass is not quite as green as you might think on the other side. Of course as a MMM, if I was a rockstar there would be no way I'd end up broke (at least not through poor financial choices).

Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Mr. Green on March 23, 2015, 12:10:32 PM
Generally speaking, being passionate about something proceeds being great at it. I have also grappled with "I want to do something great with my life." I have no passion for the job I have now, but being in my early 30's, it will allow me to FIRE in a couple more years, and then I can chase whatever passion my heart desires. That passion may turn into greatness down the road. At a minimum, happiness will accompany it.

Not everyone who was great became great when they were young. For me, I'm all about securing my financial future now, and then having the opportunity to open myself up to limitless possibilities.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: morning owl on March 23, 2015, 12:17:43 PM
Exflyboy, your story reminded me of this baseball player who earns millions but has decided on a very simple lifestyle (while rich and in his early 20s) --

http://www.theplaidzebra.com/21-year-old-pro-baseball-player-vw-camper-van-daniel-norris/

I love this story. Very Mustachian and inspiring.

I have also had brushes with famous people via my former work life. I do not envy those people. They were either dishonest and extremely unlikeable and/or completely neurotic. I've concluded that the key to happiness is right here -- appreciating what I have, and living a fairly simple life.

"Doing something great with your life" doesn't mean fame and fortune, though. There's also a very real need for people to find a sense of fulfilment in work. Fulfilling work seems pretty rare for most people. Most of us who are on the mustachian path are really just looking for this -- fulfillment in our day to day lives, whatever form that might take. To do that, we need the time and freedom in our lives to find out what fulfilling work (or a fulfilling activity, paid or unpaid) is for us. It's different for everyone, so it just takes time to figure out what that activity is for you, and then some more time and effort to figure out how to do more of it. Once you can do more of it, eventually you'll get good at it, and maybe eventually even do something "great". I don't think great things = money though. It just means that you've found an activity you can get lost in, while time flies by.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Candace on March 23, 2015, 12:57:30 PM
This is a great thread.

My current email signature is a quote from one of our esteemed host's posts:

"Life is not a contest to see who can accomplish the most. Itís simply a series of days where your goal is to wake up, have a great time, and go to bed even happier than when you woke up."

So, if you value MMM's wisdom, which presumably you do since you're here, hopefully that quote will help with perspective.

My other contribution is this: It's said often that helping people in need is one of the best ways to feel like you're making a difference. So perhaps some charity work would help your outlook.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: lifejoy on March 23, 2015, 01:24:51 PM
The book "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green really cured me of my quarter-life crisis. The movie, not so much, but the book - TOTALLY.

I won't give any spoilers, but essentially it hits the message home that you don't have to do SOME BIG THING to have a good life :)
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: MandalayVA on March 23, 2015, 01:26:46 PM
I was just listening to an interview with Paul McCartney, and he can't go anywhere or do anything without people bothering him. You and I have so much more freedom to do what we want than this man who has accomplished so much and is adored by so many.

I would never want to be famous like that.  One of my favorite Rush songs is "Limelight," and one of my favorite lines from it is "I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend," which many famous people have to do all the time.  Add in the stalkers and psychos and ... no, thanks.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Dr. Doom on March 23, 2015, 01:56:02 PM
I'll draw an analogy around the concept of 'enough.'

People on this forum know pretty well what they feel is an acceptable level of material comfort, after which they get severely diminished returns for their effort and spending.  They know where that line is -- they know what's enough.

So what's enough in terms of achievement in your life?

For some the enough answer is simple.  Waking up.  Good conversations with friends.  Sitting outside for a while.  Eating a good meal.  Being a good parent.

And for others the bar is fairly high.  Becoming famous and turning into a household name.  Donating a million to charity.  Developing a drug or product that saves all humanity. 

Part of maturing is figuring out where that enough line is for you when applied to ambition.  Even on these boards, you'll notice wide variations between members.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to do anything remarkable with the rest of my life and to be honest I find that awareness to be a relief.  I don't want to be great.  I want to be happy.  Although those two things are not mutually exclusive, I'm more interested in actively striving for the latter.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Exflyboy on March 23, 2015, 02:16:26 PM
Exflyboy, your story reminded me of this baseball player who earns millions but has decided on a very simple lifestyle (while rich and in his early 20s) --

http://www.theplaidzebra.com/21-year-old-pro-baseball-player-vw-camper-van-daniel-norris/

I love this story. Very Mustachian and inspiring.

I have also had brushes with famous people via my former work life. I do not envy those people. They were either dishonest and extremely unlikeable and/or completely neurotic. I've concluded that the key to happiness is right here -- appreciating what I have, and living a fairly simple life.

"Doing something great with your life" doesn't mean fame and fortune, though. There's also a very real need for people to find a sense of fulfilment in work. Fulfilling work seems pretty rare for most people. Most of us who are on the mustachian path are really just looking for this -- fulfillment in our day to day lives, whatever form that might take. To do that, we need the time and freedom in our lives to find out what fulfilling work (or a fulfilling activity, paid or unpaid) is for us. It's different for everyone, so it just takes time to figure out what that activity is for you, and then some more time and effort to figure out how to do more of it. Once you can do more of it, eventually you'll get good at it, and maybe eventually even do something "great". I don't think great things = money though. It just means that you've found an activity you can get lost in, while time flies by.

I love it!.. In fact my Wife and I are starting to feel the pull of the nomad lifestyle ourselves.. You know, sell the house with the two rentals on it.. all the crap that anchours us to this spot and go.. somewhere.. anywhere.

It definitely has an appeal..:)
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: rmendpara on March 23, 2015, 08:18:13 PM
I'll just add that your views of outward success and inward success will change as you grow (not necessarily with age, but very likely since our values change over time).

One problem with our generation is that we were told forever that we could do anything. That was fantastic, but an unintended consequence of telling kids they can do anything... is that they grow up thinking they have to do everything.

Certain views of success are perpetuated at the expense of disallowing a wider view of what will make you happy.

Periodic identity crises are good, ironically, because they do force you to think deeply about yourself and what you really want out of life, rather than just telling yourself the same things that other people have told you forever.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Daisy on March 23, 2015, 09:19:14 PM
Forgive me for getting all spiritual here, but I guess the topic lends itself to that.

I've found that the purpose of life is to be able to grow as a person...more empathy, more wisdom, more understanding, more helping of others. We're born as emotional midgets and our goal is to learn and grow and reciprocate all of the love we find in our lives. I find FIRE to be a great facilitator of all of this.

Fame and fortune are fleeting and - in the end - meaningless.

I remember my grandmother's funeral. She was a "poor" woman by material standards. She had to emigrate/immigrate twice in her life. She had 6 children and countless grandchildren. She touched everyone's life in a positive way. She ran her own prayer cirlces (deeply religious). At her funeral, the police leading the caravan of cars mentioned it was one of the largest car caravans from church to cemetary they had ever seen. And this was a woman who only lived about 15 years of her life in the US. And still in that time made a big impact. I've never heard anyone say any negative thing about her. She was very loving and loved by all.

That's a successful life.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Spondulix on March 23, 2015, 09:36:36 PM
Somebody mentioned being a rockstar.

I have a friend who was a genuine rockstar in the late 60's early 70's (I won't mention his name). We have had several conversations about that lifestyle and how great it must be.

Over lunch one day he explained just how "great" it was... NOT.. yeah, made millions of dollars, snorted millions of dollars, slept with lots of girls he can't remember and its a wonder he is still alive.

He is now happy but broke... Most of his friends from that era died pretty young.

He told me that during that time of the constant grind of touring and living on a bus that all he wanted was to have a little house in the country with a wife and family!.. What??

I guess the moral of the story is the grass is not quite as green as you might think on the other side. Of course as a MMM, if I was a rockstar there would be no way I'd end up broke (at least not through poor financial choices).
LOL, this reminds me a lot of a friend of DH (who played/toured with some famous bands in the 70s-80s). He had a lot of trouble getting work after that because he had no real work history! He went into credit card debt because of it, and had to take a job "working for the man." He spent his 40s and 50s slogging the way a lot of us talk here (but in our 20s and 30s). I remember talking to him on his 60th birthday and he was like, "I've done some cool things, but now I just want to meet a nice girl and settle down." It's always felt to me like he's living in reverse... :)
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: r3dt4rget on March 23, 2015, 10:02:03 PM
The way I look at it, the goal of all life on earth is pretty simple. You are successful if you help keep the species alive. For humans today that means:

1. Reproduce and create humans better than yourself
2. Contribute your unique skills to the world. Don't be selfish. It doesn't matter if it's great customer service at a retail store or you discover the cure for cancer. Give what you have to offer.
3. Live by the golden rule, don't judge people, and be polite. Kindness can really make people happy which is a powerful emotion.
4. Advocate your ideas for shaping our society in the future. If you believe everyone should stop driving cars for a better tomorrow, get out there and try to influence other people to create significant change.

You quickly realize that people that achieve amazing things can fail at the most simple tasks of a successful human. How many great CEO's and inventors get caught up in greed and actually make the world a worse place? Maybe that famous athlete is a total a$$hole to their fans, family, and friends. There are the superhumans in this world who do it all in great ways but if you follow the advice above you can rest assured you are doing more than average.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: forummm on March 24, 2015, 12:11:26 PM
I've been a CEO and a CEO's boss. I've been a successful athlete and had friends win Olympic gold. I've achieved success in government and academics. I've known self-made multi-millionaires. I've met celebrities. I have more money at my age than 99%+ of people on this planet. I have a lot of accomplishments.

But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.
I've heard some investors say that they look for that drive in entrepreneurs - people who "succeed" at business because they can never live up to their own potential. They just continue to keep pushing and driving themselves harder because they have to prove to themselves.

The thing is... isn't that unhealthy? I used to have that mindset and it put me on a fast track to being at the top of my industry. Then I burnt out, which was when I realized that the voice in my head was 1. perfectionism, and 2. self-doubt and shame.

So it's funny - I used to think I'd never meet my potential cause I wasn't working hard enough, and it was driving me to work harder. Now, I accept that I won't meet my potential, but because it's ok, the drive is gone. I enjoy what I do, but I sorta don't care anymore. It's strange.

Yeah. I think most people who "succeed" tremendously at something have some significant and insatiable drive to do that particular thing, and they just can't do anything else but dedicate their life to that thing. It often seems somewhat unhealthy from the outside, but who knows. A good example is someone like Steve Jobs. The only thing that mattered to him was what he was doing in business. I'm unable to characterize exactly what that drive was since I can't get inside his head. Maybe it was to be "insanely great", or to produce products people loved, or to produce products he loved, or to be incredibly successful at business, or something like one of those. But the result was that he was a workaholic and an intense personality and pushed everyone around him really hard. But he's just one very public example. There are so many scientists, researchers, politicians, small business owners, etc, who are just as singularly focused. Often the rest of their life is neglected or nonexistent.
Title: Re: Realising you aren’t going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: mm1970 on March 24, 2015, 12:20:58 PM
I’ve uncovered I’m never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. I’m never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.

I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. I’m in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20’s at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would do “something great” with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

I’m having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?
Hm.  Well, I have a couple of decades on you (turning 45 soon).  All my career I've done whatever I wanted - learn new things, advance, get promoted...until a couple of years ago, when I hit the glass ceiling.

Wow, that was painful.  At one point then, I had to make a decision.  If I wanted to move up, REALLY move up, I'd have to fight tooth and nail for it - and fight against some pretty big prejudices and pre-conceived notions and just general thoughts on where women do and don't belong.

Boy, a younger me would have stormed the castle, so to speak.

I realized, though, that if I did that - there was still no guarantee that I'd get anywhere in the male engineering establishment.  And it would take a lot of time, and effort, and pain, and suffering, and 60 hour work weeks. I had to make the specific decision to NOT do that.  To drift along in my current job where I can spend time with my kids.  Maybe I can move up later, when they are older and I'm 60.  Oh wait, I'll be retired then.

It's not about being "great" or doing something awesome - it's - what do YOU want?  What do you REALLY want?  And know that there are always compromises to me made.  Rarely do you achieve some definition of "greatness" without giving something up.  Always a tradeoff.

It's still difficult, not gonna lie.  I've seen men who can get promoted without having to do 60 hour weeks.  But what is "great" anyway?  Is it solely career/ work related?  Does it matter if you make it to the top of the career ladder if your kids don't even know who you are?

Man, when I sit down and have these crazy conversations about WWII or the Japanese tsunami with my 9 year old, or when I have full conversations about squirrels with my toddler, or when I finally figure out how to program something at work (I am NOT a programmer!!), I get such pleasure.  That is success to me.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Kiwi Mustache on June 09, 2015, 05:33:19 PM
I'm just re-reading this post that I did three months ago in March. An update on what has happened since then;

Career-
After lots of research and conversations with many people I've decided that my current career path is the one I want to be on. Supply chain/logistics is something I've built up "career capital" in and that is where my study and skills lie. I enjoy the type of down to Earth people the industry attracts. I've analysed many different levels of people in my company and the higher you go up the company, it seems that more the more money/prestige people get, they have more hours, more stress and less time to pursue health, family and hobbies. I think I've got to the point where I realise what I achieve inside of work and outside of work both matter considerably. As long as I've got a challenging role that I'm not bored in, have work colleagues that I get along with and that isn't too far away commute wise from where I live I'll be happy. I still want to be a distribution centre or transport hub manager one day. However, if I reach this milestone by 40 or 50 years old it isn't a big deal as long as the journey I'm enjoying what I'm doing.

Sports/Health/Fitness-
I'm thoroughly enjoying commuting to work. Health and fitness and being able to get outdoors are big priorities for me. I'm prioritising this much more and focusing on reducing stress, reducing how much I fit into the day and just being content with commuting by bike, doing stretching and a few exercises at home. I'm also joining a gym chain to improve my muscle and feel stronger (I've never lifted weights before). I'm simplifying what I eat and cutting out anything that isn't natural or healthy for me. This will improve my overall health and well being and I enjoy cooking it.

Savings/Investments-
I've got pre approval all sorted from the bank and am in line to purchase an investment property (with the help of equity through my parents). I've tried shares for several years but my interest has always been in property investment. I'm feeling really confident about this and love learning more about it. I've put into place a budget in Excel which I've been very slack about recently so am going to track all income/expenses and net worth. I'm really enjoying keeping track of this. I've also joined a property investor association who holds weekly meetings on information and case studies which I'm finding incredibly helpful.

Fun/Other-
Since my original post, I've done a skydive, done a fly fishing and day hunting trip, joined a few meetup.com groups on areas that interest me such as personal finance and hiking.

I'm also clearing out a lot of things that I own that give me no satisfaction. Selling them online and freeing up space and stress of owning them has been liberating. I'm basically focusing on everything that makes me happy and ruthlessly getting rid of anything that doesn't. This has involved things like reducing my Facebook friends list from 300+ people down to 50 of my closest friends and family, reducing the amount of things I fit into each week, the amount of books I skimmed through, the commitments I got no benefit out of.

I've also moved house. I live in shared accommodation (just rent a room) and felt that a new suburb and new house-mates would get the cycle of living a new breath of life kick started.

I put so much pressure on myself to be super successful in the money, fame, power sense that I was just driving myself into a sense of depression and anger for not having things that others had that I'd compare myself too.

I still haven't figured everything out. But I feel like the path I'm on is getting clearer by the day. Not putting so much of my self worth into my career and rather just trying to live a full and intentional way of life is making a big difference.
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Bob W on June 09, 2015, 06:55:21 PM
Good for you
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: pbkmaine on June 09, 2015, 07:39:36 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/opinion/david-brooks-the-small-happy-life.html?_r=0
Title: Re: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life
Post by: Spondulix on June 09, 2015, 09:16:18 PM
I put so much pressure on myself to be super successful in the money, fame, power sense that I was just driving myself into a sense of depression and anger for not having things that others had that I'd compare myself too.
Very well stated. I remember after having a similar crisis (at 33) my mom said to me, "aren't you glad you figured this out at your age - and not at the end of your career? You could be looking back at decades and regretting all the things you missed out on."

There's a great book by Gail Sheehan called "Passages" that talks about the different priorities we have at different stages in life. Sometimes we have a crisis when we're moving from one stage to another.