Where to Go Next?

I have felt fairly lost since finishing up my graduate degree about 4 years ago.  I haven’t really been able to turn the degree into a better career.  Part of that is probably my fault for not pursing a change aggressively enough and part of it is the economy tanking which makes a lateral move more difficult.  Since graduation I have been treading water waiting for the right thing to come along.  It hasn’t and I don’t feel like I have made much progress in acquiring new skills during the intervening years.  I have this feeling of not knowing how to move forward and knowing I can’t move backward that has translated into just being lost in the world.

I realize now, or at least have begun to admit to myself, that I made some major mistakes in my life as a younger person.  I made bad choices based on reasoning that was seriously flawed which resulted in me going down paths I never wanted to travel.  Now, at 36 years of age, I have some fairly large regrets about how I handled my education but I also accept that it happened and I can’t change it.  The question I face today and that I have been facing for some time is where to go next?

I still feel like mentally I have the ability to learn.  That’s about the only part of me that still seems to work properly.  I want to learn something new but I am struggling to figure out what that might be.  There is no more university education in my future.  I can’t afford it for one and starting over would be too much of a drain on my family.  I have to accept that the time to chase some interests is just long past.  I still have a very strong interest in technology but my attempts at learning things like programming never seem to get off the ground.  I also have come to see over the years that my real passion for technology comes from consumer devices and not the enterprise technology on which my career today is based.  I don’t know if I have ever felt passionately about anything in my life which makes me an adult without the focus that so many others seem to have.

I can’t seem to shake the idea that my productive life is over and that I am becoming a guy who works hard and does a great job doing things I just doesn’t care about.  Maybe most people are in the same boat.  Maybe not.  For me I need something else.  Something to be truly proud of.  I just wish I knew what that might be.


Where to Go Next? — 2 Comments

  1. What do you want to do? Really – what would you be passionate about? It’s a tough question, especially for people who love to learn. It’s hard to narrow it down. But I found once I really honed in on that, other stuff started kind of clicking. It’s still not easy, but I think that writing a mission statement (Franklin Covey has a free one you can do) and doing some real soul searching that will help you decide what your ideal life would look like will help you to no end.

    It’s hard to work towards a goal if you don’t have one in mind. If you can quantify it more than “not this” but an actual GOAL. That has historically been my biggest hurdle and I see it alot in my peers, you included.

    It’s fatalistic for you to suspect, even privately in your head, that your productive years are behind you. I’ve worked at jobs with people twice your age. Hopefully you have a lot of time left in you! 🙂

  2. Ah, see that is at the center of the problem. I don’t know what I really want to do. In all honesty I don’t know. I can come up with things I enjoy, things I am good at, things I am interested in, things that I have a real passion for discussing and talking about etc., but not one thing that is like THE thing. Well, at least the THING I could pursue while still taking care of my family and my other responsibilities. Still, I think if I could really point at one thing and say THAT is what I am about I could probably focus on it but I’ve never had that thing and thus why I am lost with half of my life gone.

    I suppose everyone reaches a point in their life where they look back and regret chances not taken or wrong choices made. Maybe I just hit that point a little early. It’s a funny thing though because without what has happened to me and the things I did and the choices I made I wouldn’t be here, today, with a great wife and a child who is literally my reason for keeping going on even when I feel depressed and useless. I had to be the person I am so that the people I care so much about could be brought into my life or I could be brought into theirs. I just can’t shake the feeling that my part in the overall story, or the part that matters anyway, is kind of over.

    Then again, it is rainy and grey outside so maybe it is just the lack of sunshine that has me in a more dark and reflective mood.

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