Now What? 5 Steps To Figuring Out What to Do Next When You Don’t Have a Goddamn Clue

by Alexander Heyne · 54 comments

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Belize

Most of my 20s sucked shit.

I’m totally comfortable admitting that to myself now at age 28 – it really sucked. I found myself working these goddamn awful jobs, that didn’t pay me much, that didn’t mean much, and didn’t have opportunities to even grow or learn much.

When you aren’t learning new skills…

… And you aren’t getting paid much.

… And you don’t like what you do.

… I call this “shit city.”

It’s literally, in every sense of the word (or phrase), a waste of your life. But sometimes that’s a price you have to pay temporarily.

Problem is, when you find yourself getting stuck like this, it’s easy to fall into a depression and lose the steam that’ll push you out of it. So here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me all those years ago, when I could’ve progressed so much more in my life.

#1 Learn Hard New Shit

working-hard

Growth.

This first principle is so shockingly simple, but rewarding, that I’m surprised I didn’t realize it sooner.

Just pick a new aspect of your life to grow in – so maybe you’re doing the soul crushing (or simply shitty) ten hour workday somewhere else just to barely pay your bills.

That’s fine.

What are you doing after that though?

I heard this awesome quote by Earle Nightingale yesterday that went like this:

“All around me I hear people complaining about their lives. Well, what are you doing in your leisure time? In 25 years you haven’t done anything to advance yourself? In 25 years of leisure time you could become an open heart surgeon, so what are you doing?”

Obviously, this one appeals to my real workaholic-ness, but it makes sense: Even an hour a day after work and on weekends, added up over the course of a year, is 365 hours. Over two years, it’s over 720 hours, and over three years, 1,000+ hours.

Considering the “10,000 hour rule” to become a world-class master at something…. that means every 27 years you could become WORLD-CLASS at something.

Oh, in your part time.

In 1 hour a day.

You could become Steve Jobs level at something.

Michael phelps level at something.

Or some other person you admire in that time.

Pick GROWTH – what new thing do you want to try that requires learning, effort, and has a bit of difficulty?

2. Get Some Mad Skillz

mad skillz

This is my favorite.

In my own business, and my life, each quarter I set a growth goal. And it only has to have TWO prerequisites:

1. It must be fucking awesome (= intrinsic motivation).

2. It must require growth.

Here’s how I define growth: It has to require skills, connections, a mindset, or a work ethic that I currently do not have. First quarter of last year, that was writing a book. I didn’t know anything about writing that many pages, formatting, marketing, selling, etc.

But I still managed to do well and hit #1 in three Amazon health categories and get rave reviews.

In your life, it could be a personal goal like asking out a guy or girl that scares you shitless.

It could be speaking on a stage. It could be launching that website you’re waiting on.

Just focus on difficulty and fun. You’ll grow.

So.

First quarter of the next year, that’s January, February and March – what’s a goal you could pick up for just 100 days?

1. It must be awesome, so you’re naturally motivated to do it.

2. It must require growth.

If the current version of yourself can do it now, it’s not a worthy goal.

3. The Harry Potter Scribbles

harry

Getting overwhelmed, frustrated and depressed is the name of the game for 20 somethings.

One thing I always found myself struggling with was trying to narrow down the possible paths I could take. I felt like a schizophrenic – some days feeling like I had jack shit as far as options went, and other days feeling like there were too many which made it impossible to decide.

Rumor (or shall I say rumour?) has it, that J.K. Rowling began writing harry potter on tissue paper in a cafe in Edinburgh.

Personally, I’m a coffee shop addict, since I tend to spend a lot of time alone and working in a coffee shop gives me the feeling that I am interacting with human beings (while still getting work done).

One thing I like to do quite a lot is just open up my own mind, and pick a bunch of random paths that would be “cool” to go down.

A thing I’ve learned in life is that the best motivation to go do something is not because of the reward, but because IT’S COOL AS HELL.

I’ve tried all kinds of things – do this to get rich, do this to get famous, do this to feel better about your life.

But all the motivation wanes when those are your drivers.

When I pursue a goal because it’s so cool that I can’t stop talking about it… now that’s when I keep going.

Take 20 minutes and write down all the potential “dream paths,” just let your mind roam and you’ll see that some of them may actually turn out to be logical paths.

4. The Traction Principle

A friend introduced me recently to a great business book – traction.

I often wondered what I was really good at when I was younger – what’s really something I can become world class at?

And I ended up struggling with this for the longest time, until I figured out the traction principle.

If you’re pursuing multiple jobs, interests, or, shit, even people you want to date, here’s how I would go about it:

Try out:

Thing 1

Thing 2

Thing 3

Thing 4

Thing 5

…Do each one for 30 days, and then see which one is working the best, which one is lining up, or which one you like the most.

(Starting to see the idea of “which one gets traction?”).

Then ditch the rest, focus, and double down until you really start seeing better results.

Crazy, right?

It’s so simple but works so well.

Pick five or ten things, test them rapidly, see what sticks, and move full-speed ahead.

And yes, I guess I’m technically saying you should date five people at once ;-).

5. Don’t pursue goals whose PROCESS you do not like

homeless

This was a colossal fuck up in my life (and still is).

I found myself attracted to the various outcomes from certain goals – a business with income, being world class at Judo, traveling the world, etc.

But I didn’t realize the secret sauce of achievement – you have to love the process more than you love the outcome.

Let me repeat that, beacuse this realization was worth about 10 million dollars to me.

If you like the IDEA of being a famous guitarist, or being in a famous band, but you aren’t intrinsically motivated to play guitar 3-5 hours a day, give up the goal. You won’t likely get there.

If you like the IDEA of building a business, but you hate what you have to do every day, it’s going to require a shitload of willpower and you’ll probably quit.

The secret sauce of life is PROCESS. THE process.

If you find yourself following all these goals and day to day you absolutely hate the shit out of them – taking 500 basketball shots, spending three hours in the gym, writing 2,000 words a day, shooting videos – why are you even doing them?

The “success” industry attracts some of the most ass-backwards advice because people are too busy killing themselves over some imaginary exit in the future (that may or may not come).

Take it from me: As someone who was constantly depressed and unhappy, as someone who saw friends end up in the hospital from nervous breakdowns due to overwork, and as someone who saw close friends commit suicide, you have to love the process more than you love the outcome.

This is the secret of most top achievers, anyway.

Some Awesomeness Coming in January…

I apologize for not writing that much lately – I published my first book in the health industry here, and have been working like a dog.

I’m launching something I’ve never done before here in January to a small group of people 1:1, to truly help them make this the best year ever. It’s going to be much higher touch, involving live 1:1 calls with me and direct followup.

I’m going to be opening enrollment to between 7-10 people – first come first serve.

Thoughts?

Thoughts on the stuff I talked about here today?

Share below.

-Alex

 

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie F November 21, 2015 at 10:51 pm

I just discovered your blog randomly and this was the second post I read through. Wow. Hit my home pretty hard. Your honesty makes your words real. I appreciate that.

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Alexander Heyne November 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

:-) Glad you liked it Annie and glad you found it helpful.

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Melissa November 22, 2015 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for sharing this. This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m 25 and sometimes wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life. I’m glad to know others have been there. I mean I knew that but it’s good to KNOW that… if that makes sense.

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:21 pm

You are not alone :-)

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Al January 5, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Haha, Melissa, you are definitely not alone! I’m 26 and feel the same way as you. I recently left a stable job because I hated it, traveled for a bit, and now back at home figuring out my next steps.

It is scary to have no idea what your next steps are while you watch your friends get married, buy houses, starting families, advancing in their careers. However sometimes it’s good to know you are completely free. You aren’t “tied down” financially with a mortgage, or the upbringing of a family. You are able to do whatever you want, go wherever you want to go.

My friend has a stable job, condo, car makes a good salary… but hes starting to realize he settled down too fast and he wishes he were in my shoes, whereas some days I wish i was in his shoes. It’s always greener on the other side, and it’s true.

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Alexander Heyne January 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Yep – definitely greener on the other side.

olivia November 22, 2015 at 9:17 pm

So excited you posted after a long-ish hiatus! This couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

You’re so right that it’s so easy to fall in love with the idea of being something/ doing something, but it’s your enjoyment of it in the moment, not the achievement that defines whether its worth your time.

It’s also comforting to know that you feel like your 20s haven’t been all smooth sailing, the growth mindset is the only way out of regret and into the present.

Thanks for posting!

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Hey Olivia,

HARDLY smooth sailing, haha. It’s been messy, even as focused and hard working as I’ve been. It’s been really messy :D Just focus on growth, and you can’t go wrong.

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Brenda November 23, 2015 at 9:10 am

Spot on. I’ve been going through this “what to do next” journey for >1 yr. Our culture has changed, jobs have changed, they way we look at work has changed. Putting meaning back in our lives is no small task; however, with time evolves pushing away the box and entering a new realm that, though unknown, is likely better than what we’ve known in the past. Thank you.

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm
Dave November 23, 2015 at 9:30 am

Thank you for your insight that “it’s the process”, not the end result, that captures attention and interest. This observation helped settle a question I had as what to do, life-wise, going forward.

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Hey Dave,

Happy to help. And yes, not an easy one to live either! It takes work to re-train living that way.

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Nicole November 23, 2015 at 10:41 am

Awesome article! Just what I needed to read. Especially loved section on the importance of The Process. So true. How will we know about the launch and how to sign up?

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Hey Nicole –

Just reply to the email I sent out. If you can, reply “I’M in.” If I don’t respond, don’t worry, I still got your email.

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Molly November 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

I like your site but this post really hit home with me as well. And clarified an INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT point that most people handing out advice leave out; loving the process. Everyone says, “love what you do” but how do you do that? Is it because you don’t have to work a lot of hours or because it’s easy or because you have great financial benefits? From someone who is highly encouraged by personal fulfillment and extremely discouraged by wasting my time for the sake of money, this was wonderful advice. I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly I want to do from now on and this makes it so much easier to weigh my options. I simply won’t be happy if I’m not doing something I at least find interesting during the process.

And advice I’m going to use to gauge my projects from now on. You’re very wise for your age…or any age for that matter and I’m old enough to “almost” be your mother. :)

Well done.

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Hah, glad you liked it Molly. Yeah, it’s not easy. I’m 100% with you on never working just for work’s sake. That’s tricky. Sometimes you have to do it in the short run, while you get your other projects up and running though, you know?

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Rhys T November 23, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Totally agree with Olivia, this latest post couldn’t have come at a better time for m e, having recently returned from a few months travels i’ve had a real hard time trying to re-route my energy back into seeking a meaningful career. I mean i’ve literally had to do some serious soul searching to drum up the energy & enthusiasm to seek out job opportunities that i feel my current skill set relates to. BUT THAT’S THE PROBLEM! – none of those options inspire me, in fact they’re all quite grim realities.. of how my future seems set to unfold.. long stressful hours doing something that i hate, just in order to earn a living.
The question I had been asking myself before receiving a link ti your latest post today was “Could i really change the course of my future @ 32 years of age and seek out a new career that would be fulfilling and/or rewarding?”…

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Hey Rhys,

Trust me, none of the options inspired me either. You might want to consider entrepreneurship – it’s hardly an easy road, but it can be a hell of a lot more fun, creative, and lucrative than anything else.

What can you start building on the side?

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Stephanie November 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Welcome back! Great post as always. I’m still figuring my shit out at age 24. I never thought about how much can be done in our leisure time and how important it is for our growth. I need to find some hobbies and projects to get stuck into. Thanks for opening up my mind!

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Trust me, people at 60 are still figuring it out ;-). And yes! Leisure time is HUGE. Think about recreation as re-creation. You can really become a lot in your free time.

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Sevda November 23, 2015 at 3:41 pm

hi, Alex. you are awesome! it is the first time i comment your article. you helped me multiple times. But i want to read more about relationship issues. i tried the way you mentioned above ( date 5 person once ) but the person who is most attractive to me is not feeling the same. i want getting to know him, but he keeps his distance. i feel he only interested in sex, nothing else. you are also man, you know what i am talking about. i will be glad if you share some experience of your own about this kind of situation.

Kind Regards

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Bill Boteler November 23, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Hi,

This is my happy thought for the day. Yes, I can see how Alex and others got trapped in crappy low-paying, no-future work. It’s great that people want to escape that and create something better. You never know how long you have in the world.
But in your 20’s you have got some great stuff. You are young physically and you can enjoy dating and finding people to hang out with who are unattached. It’s great. You will never be able to go back. By the same token you probably have many decades to do stuff – no excuse to stop.
I’m biased because I think we live in a huge world full of all kinds of social and environmental problems. I lean toward using your talent to attack any one of these that bugs you. You will never run out of things to do.
Alex is also right that it’s good to travel and see the bigger world around you.
Do not get stuck spinning your wheels about what to do next. Do something that seems remotely exciting and if that is not it, do something else. That is better than spending years sitting on the fence or slaving away at a crappy job.
My biggest mistake has been avoiding making mistakes.

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Alexander Heyne November 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm

Hey Bill,

That’s really wise how you closed this out: My biggest mistake has been avoiding making mistakes. Thanks for sharing.

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Aaron M November 24, 2015 at 12:45 am

Alex I don’t mind that your posts have some time between them; it seems each time I read one it is GOLD and this one by far has to be the best. My God the 5th tip about enjoying the process, not the outcome is SO DEAD ON.

You have taken the vague reasons as to why I’ve struggled to succeed at something for the last 5 years of my limited 20’s and turned it into one simple idea:

“Don’t pursue goals whose PROCESS you do not like.”

I’ve tried a lot of different things and learned a lot, but never got anywhere with any one idea or goal when it comes to making a difference in my life, despite more than a few people in my life saying I have all this potential.

I got deeper and deeper into the mindset you described:

“Problem is, when you find yourself getting stuck like this, it’s easy to fall into a depression and lose the steam that’ll push you out of it.”

It’s gotten worse until recently when I’ve made a major effort to clean up my bad habits and make a total effort to focus and try again. I’ve began understanding the reasons why I failed in the past but this post really put those concepts into concrete words and helped sooo much. I’m posting tip No. 5 on the wall above my monitor.

Thanks so much Alex for writing these posts, I know you have a fitness business of some sort and probably other projects too, but I hope you keep sharing your discoveries and tips on this blog as those keep growing!

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Alexander Heyne November 24, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Happy to help Aaron! And yes, that was a major revelation for me too. Once I realized that, I quit hobbies and interests that I “wanted to be good in” but didn’t love the process of “Training” in them. Massive win for me too! Good to see you here again.

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Petras November 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

I’m just so glad you’re alive man! I found and read through this blog/site shortly before the Crossroads program launched and you disappeared…
Can’t wait for upcoming posts!

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Alexander Heyne November 28, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Haha, I’m back :-)

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Alexander Heyne November 28, 2015 at 3:08 pm

Haha, I’m back!

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Andy T November 25, 2015 at 6:47 am

Really great post, which appeared at a good time for me. You’re spot on about enjoying the process and using just one how of leisure time (or more) to grow. I feel like I’m digging myself out of a hole at the moment, and progress seems to have gone out the window recently, but this post helps to spur me on, and keep going! Thank you, great post, and congrats on the book!

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Alexander Heyne November 28, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Thanks Andy! Keep me posted with how these things work for you and help you progress.

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s December 5, 2015 at 11:10 am

good to have you back :D where have you been ?

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Alexander Heyne December 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Busy working on my business, traveling, and life :-) Been working too many hours.

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s December 5, 2015 at 12:48 pm

hi Alex :D

I found your blog at the right time and it helped me a lot. this year i’m trying to reinvent myself, become the best version possible; gain self confidence, be good at school and so on.. The problem i’m dealing with, that i can relate to in this article is that i have to decide what colleges to apply to next year. This year i haven’t made my goal, which was medicine, but i’m trying to figure out is it the best option for me, or is it maybe economics or pharmacy ? How can i find out if they are right for me if i can’t try them out, or which one actually is ? Btw my parents are doctors so that was a dream since i was a kid, now i just don’t know..

I know it is hard to give someone the formula for living the best life possible, but i just don’t want to screw up, you know ?

Best of luck ! Don’t give up, we like you here haha :D :D

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Alexander Heyne December 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Question: do you really like medicine?

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s December 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm

i do but i dont think i like the 6 year long process of everyday studying, will i actually have time for myself ?

Jarred S December 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

Randomly came across this blog,

Found this blog incredibly insightful with a lot of great kicks up the ass that I have needed to shake the shit loose and get shit done.

Thanks man!

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Alexander Heyne January 2, 2016 at 1:11 pm

You’re welcome Jarred !

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Juraj December 30, 2015 at 2:07 am

Thank you Alex for all the articles you shared with us. :)

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Alexander Heyne January 2, 2016 at 1:08 pm

You’re welcome :-)

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Sylvain January 5, 2016 at 8:14 pm

This was spot on, thanks

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Alexander Heyne January 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Cheers !

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a.t January 9, 2016 at 12:14 pm

I’m 34 and still haven’t a clue what it is I’m supposed to do, I have been to university twice and each only lasted 1 year. I’m just stuck working a job to feed the family and keep a roof over my head at the moment. I am trying to figure out if training as a teacher would be a good move, your post was good I liked the point of doing things in in spare time which is what I have to do now

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Alexander Heyne January 14, 2016 at 3:33 pm

A.t – how can you test what being a teacher would be like before going to school for it? That’s the best way to know.

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Jason January 30, 2016 at 9:39 pm

This is so similar to the exact steps I used a couple months ago. Great read and really hit home with what I’ve experienced.

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Alexander Heyne February 1, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Glad you liked it jason !

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Matthew March 1, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Thanks for the read, Alexander. I used to be obsessed with picking an almost impossible goal and learning new skills to get there. Its been a while since I’ve done that because it just kinda left my mind that I used to pursue crazy things. I’m pumped thinking about what to build next and how I’m going to get there. I’ll post again with a final product in a few months :D

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Alexander Heyne March 7, 2016 at 9:46 pm

:-) keep us posted!

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Mamtha April 27, 2016 at 4:38 am

This is super cool i would say…i find a lot of charisma in your blogs.. developed positive vibes..good help!!Thanks

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Alexander Heyne April 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Glad you liked it Mamtha :-)

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Chris May 28, 2016 at 5:06 am

Thanks for this stuff. Just came across it today. I’m a 61 year old single Dad. Been so focused parenting I’ve lost myself and now she’s nearly 18 don’t know what to do with my life. Got up again feeling unmotivated with no passion for anything. I’ve plenty of life skills but I don’t like doing them all. But you’ve made me realise what I do like doing aka fixing and creating things from electronics to motorbikes. First foot on the ladder!

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Alexander Heyne June 6, 2016 at 10:51 am

Hey Chris,

Don’t worry man, it’s totally normal. I wrote about this feeling in my manifesto a few years back, I think it’s really common with parents when you get so sucked in with raising kids, paying bills, surviving… etc. Make it happen

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