What to Do If Your Life Is a Blank Slate? (i.e. Stop Wasting Time)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by MICHAELSD, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. MICHAELSD macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    I feel like this thread could ultimately end up helping people of all ages and experiences, so this should turn into quite a few thoughtful posts and reflections.

    Reflecting upon my own self, I'm realizing now that my life is for all intent and purposes a blank slate: since I was so indecisive where to go to school and how to spend money, I'm at my first year of community college. No girlfriend at the moment, and ironically enough few people hang out after school at a community college so I stick with a few old friends. I've been doing freelance work online for the past few years and want to grow away from that into an entrepreneurial business pursuit.

    Right now I feel like I'm not working towards my goals honestly, and am just drifting through life. This indecisive period is probably one of the most difficult for people that overthink. Would I be most happy in Florida? California? New York? Which school out of countless options? I feel like anybody can still ask themselves similar "would I be most happy doing ___ or ___ or ___ or...?" This is also the period of time where it seems almost pointless to move away from home -- where I can sleep and eat free in a nicer place than I can afford. There's a draw to move out but a draw to stay too.

    I do feel like this has been a waste part of my life, with memorable moments far and few between. What I'm personally most concerned about is looking back and thinking that my life has just been wasted time. Frankly, I would if I wallowed away in a normal office position with infrequent vacations unless I meet an amazing woman that doesn't make me care as much.

    But me now? Like a lot of people, I want to do substantial undertakings that change the world. I do have plans that if I could initiate would do so. Two summers I wasted trying to bring a product to market though feels like it'll take a lot of wasted time with no reward to get there, if ever.

    So the point of the thread is: what advice and wisdom do you have from your own experience at shaping a blank slate into a great life?
  2. Kariya macrumors 68000


    Nov 3, 2010
    I think this is generally a good rule to follow in life

    Draw up a 3, 5 and 10 yr plan. Then start acting accordingly. Also remember there's no rush you're only in a race with yourself.
  3. PigDog macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2002
    Kariya advise is excellent, a plan is a great way to start, over thinking can be an asset and a hindrance but do not worry the small things.

    Life takes us on a path that can be wonderful, interesting and full of excitement.

    Personal plans I have made in the past have given me a quest for life, even though they have taken longer to work out.

    You mentioned a two summer project that did not produce what you deemed important but you did learn how things work, maybe this was a good in a smaller way, millions were not made but how to do the next project was possibly.

    The Mac Newton eventually became the Ipad.

    The old Mac Cube idea has become the new Mac Pro.

    OK am taking a bit of an artistic license :)
  4. carjakester macrumors 68020


    Oct 21, 2013
    i feel like that sometimes too but i feel like everyone does. if you're worried about meeting someone it will come when you least expect it. for me i just met my girlfriend of almost a year now at work when i thought i never would. just find something you like to do and people who share that hobby will be easy to befriend.
  5. Huntn, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014

    Huntn macrumors P6


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    This subject is so mysterious I wonder if I can add anything significant to it?

    We all have our motivations based on biology with some ability to move within a limited spectrum of possibilities. The only concrete advice I can offer would be seek out and educate yourself on options and what vocation is mostly likely to make you content in the limited time you have to make those decisions. Although with the lack of hind sight, who knows if you will choose wisely or if it will take several attempts. In personal relationships it's a total crap shoot, although the less selfish you are the better the odds are of relationships that last. Just don't become a doormat. :p

    I consider myself lucky. I was 9 years old standing on the observation deck at Washington National Airport looking into the flight deck of new Boeing 727s at pilots wearing white shirts and black ties, and knew what I wanted to do. So how did this happen? I have no clue, it just happened. Was it a cake walk? No. I had a B average but flying slots in the military were very competitive and I almost became a NFO (back seater). But after starting basic training as a NFO designee in Pensacola, orders came through for a pilot slot. Then I threw my guts up when I first started flying, but was able to work my way through it. When you are as sick as a dog, the work environment that brought it on does not seem so romantic. Why did I stick with it? Because I was determined and thought it would get better. Why did I think that? Was this a choice? No clue, but it did get better, although there were more significant ups and downs along the way.

    In hindsight, philosophically the interesting aspect of this is whatever qualities I had within me, was I making a choice or was that just how I was in combination with fate playing its part? No clue what so ever. I wonder how much choice plays into this process and how much we are along for the ride?
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    I recommend getting rich in your spare time. Luckily for you, this forum has some top notch advice on the pursuit.
  7. noisycats macrumors 6502a


    Jun 1, 2010
    The 'ham. Alabama.
    If you truly don't have any goals yet, commit to something, even if only for a short time.

    Peace Corps, military, etc. Get out, do something, see places, meet people, gain exposure and life experience. If you commit to an external organization, especially one that doesn't need you to stay where you are, you will be forced to 'explore'. And that sounds like exactly what you need.

    The rest will fall in place.
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Go and have an adventure. Travel, probably, is the best way. Hope on a plane with a 1 way ticket to Europe with a few general ideas, and no time-line and stay in the youth hostels. You can work on a kibbutz in Israel for a few months and it won't cost you anything. You will meet fellow travellers and perhaps decide to join them on one of their trips. I once biked through mainland Greece after meeting some Australians in Athens and buying a cheap bike in the flea market. It's not about getting to know the History (though that's cool too) it's about getting to know different people and different cultures.

    Put everything you own into storage, give up your apartment, and drive across the country. Live out of your car to save money. Heck... drive around the country. I was in Banff (Canadian Rockies) and at the end of the summer season there was no work until the winter ski season started. So I (sort of) circumnavigated the continent. East to Montreal, South to Georgia, West to California, and North to British Columbia... took me 2 or 3 months. Slept in cheap motels, in the car at truck stops, in campgrounds. I had no real plan... just explored where I wanted. Worked out 10x better than I had hoped.

    You may or may not find what you are looking for on a trip like this... in my case what I discovered was that I was already where I wanted to be - in the Mountains... though subsequently I moved to the west coast to add ocean to the mix. What my adventure showed me were the places I didn't want to go... Also, technically, I am still on my summer break from university - a break that started in 1984.

    I found what I wanted... I found my happiness, I found my love, and I could not be more content... (except for the the premature death of my wife last year). But if you had told me in 1983 what I would have been doing in 1993, then 2003, then 2013 - I would have laughed you out of the room.

    Some people know from an early age what they want to do... Chris Hadfield (the Canadian Astronaut) knew from childhood what he wanted to do - and lived his entire life to get there. Others... like me .... need to experience a variety of things before they figure it out.

    Go on an adventure where you need to rely on yourself.... not on an organization ... to sort out problems.

    Good Luck.

    ps the examples above worked for me... they may not be right for you.... I use them as examples, not specific recommendations....
  9. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    I wasted a year bringing a product to market. Great product but the market was too small. I still learned a LOT from that and it was a great career-launcher (albeit along more conventional lines).

    If you still want to be a millionaire (like in your other thread mobilehaathi referenced above) then keep plugging away at it. A lot of it's down to luck - despite what many say. Connections help too. Keep throwing stuff at the wall and maybe something will stick? Good luck.
  10. MICHAELSD thread starter macrumors 68040


    Jul 13, 2008
    Very sage advice. The best parts of life are likely the major experiences and journeys taken. Is there anywhere you have written about your experiences more in detail? I'd imagine traveling the U.S especially would be lonely as people aren't really looking to group with random strangers as much as they would be in Europe.
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Hm. That particular thread had entirely slipped my mind. And it does throw an interesting light on matters. Well, well.

    Okay, OP. My advice given then, still stands. Get to know yourself, sufficiently well to become easy and accepting of yourself. In other words, try to allow yourself to arrive at a place where you can feel comfortable in your own skin. Unfortunately, this doesn't usually happen to most people until they are in their late thirties, or, more usually, in their forties.

    My second piece of advice also stands: Find out what you love, what thrills, you, delights you, amazes you, fascinates you. Then study it, make yourself a master of it, and try to make some sort of living from it; this will give you huge professional satisfaction, which in turn, will make you personally fulfilled.

    For me, I was always fascinated by history, (and knowledge generally) even as a small kid; in my early teens, my interest in history also came to include a fascination with politics. Not surprisingly, this is the main direction my studies took, and for years, I was a university teacher of history and politics, and I used to marvel at the fact that people were willing to pay me to discuss, read about and write about the sort of stuff that really interested me. These days, I still work in related areas.

  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Nope, didn't write about it... but somewhere I have piles of photos... and the film negatives.

    The Europe and the US trips were very different because of the different modes of travel. In Europe I travelled on public transportation and stayed at youth hostels.... which is conducive to meeting like minded travellers. In the Canadian/US trip I was in my car travelling alone and not staying in communal accommodations. One other point about the car trip... it was a '69 Chevy - with an AM radio only. There was no 'entertainment' distraction... and I got to do a lot of thinking.... meditative at times. I also developed a fondness for listening to baseball games on the radio. Can't watch a game on the TV... but there is something magical still about a fuzzy radio broadcast. You also get a very different appreciation for this continent... well, the north half of this continent. I didn't dip south of the line.

    One day soon I'm going to add the 3rd ocean to places I've driven to. And add the last province.... Somehow I missed PEI. Got all but 4 of the states though.
  13. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    To live in the present was best advice anyone ever gave me.
  14. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    Damnit you beat me to it! First thought in my mind was to ask if this didn't work out.

    Pretty sure the last teenager to hand me "helpful" advice turned out pretty terrible for the both of us.

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