It is okay not to have it all figured out


Raise your metaphorical hand if you ever feel overwhelmed by the unknown. By the uncertainty of the future that looms at the distant horizon. I know I feel like this from time to time and I suspect I am not alone. If my circle of friends is a good reflection of society (admittedly, a big if), I know that most of us worry about picking the right degree at university to set us up for a successful career. Most of us worry about picking the right life partner to keep us company as we try to figure out all the other things that are still un-figured-out. And most of us get lost at times in a mental maze of endless options that make the shiny future our parents promised us looks anything but shiny.

I am here to tell that it is okay, truly, to not have it all figured out. More importantly, I am here to tell you that there lies beauty in not having it all figured out.

Let me offer you three insights that will hopefully inspire you to drop any worry about the future and embrace the unknown.  

1. There is no right and wrong

There is a German word that perfectly encapsulates what you feel when the fickleness of the future irritates your mind.

Torschlusspanik ~ a sense of anxiety or fear caused by the feeling that life’s opportunities passing by and diminishing as one ages.

When Torschlusspanik hits us, we feel that we ought to make the right choice for our life – choose the right career, partner, place to live. And if we make the wrong decision, then somehow there will be no return, no redemption. We only get one shot at life and if we make the wrong decisions in our youth, then we will have to sit with these consequences for the rest of our lives.

Guess what? There is no right or wrong. The universe does not have some grand purpose for your life that you can miss by making the wrong decisions. If you mess up, that is great. It means you found your edge. You tried something that didn’t work, and now you know. Redemption from unfortunate choices is possible by making new choices – over and over and over again. Deepak Chopra wrote about this in his Book of Secrets:

“If you obsess over whether you are making the right decision, you are basically assuming that the universe will reward you for one thing and punish you for another. The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.”

Whenever you feel overwhelmed with the endless possibilities that lay ahead of you, realise that a good future can be forged from any current decision and a bad outcome can be rectified with any number of future decisions.

2. There is no decision to be made

If you truly do not know which decision to make or how to proceed in life, let yourself reside in the questions for a while. There is no rush. Life has a beautiful way of figuring itself out once we get out of its way. Let be what you cannot figure out and you will see that residing in the question will offer its own gifts and lessons for you. As Rilke phrased it:

“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Think of it this way. If a decision is costing you your inner peace, then it is already too expensive. Drop the worry and live in the moment for a while to see what unfolds naturally.

To have some more guidance on this topic, I suggest reading my previous articles below:

Live Now. The future will take care of itself.
Letting be is the first step to letting go.

3. There is enough time

A big part of why we feel stressed about figuring the future out is because we fear there won’t be enough time to try again if we make the ‘wrong decision’. As we just discussed, there is no wrong decision, but keep in mind there is also no lack of time. An average human life may be short in relation to the infinity of the universe, but is plenty long to try different things – have different careers, date different people, live in different places. Society tells us we need to have our life figured out by our late twenties and then live out this figured-out-life for the rest of our lives. How boring would that be, if it were the case?

There are countless articles on the internet listing great achievements of people who started their ventures or creative endeavours at a later stage in life.  No matter your age, it is never too late to start over again or try something different. And if you need a little encouragement, just google ‘x who have started later in life’, filling in whatever it is you want to be on the place of the x.

To be even more assured of the notion that it is okay to not have it all figured out, check out the resources below:

Emilie Wapnick – Why some of us don’t have one true calling (TED Talk)
Stefan Sagmeister – The power of time off (TED Talk)

Clarissa DeanComment