“Direction-ism”: Living Life by a Set of Principles

How to find direction in your life when you feel lost
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Created by bap

Published on Mar 7, 2023
a hand holding out a compass over a mountain range

What most people lack today in the difficult game of life is direction; this lack of direction is what makes life a bloodied trail of extra-studded lego pieces where the further you go, the more people you see bent over in pain and agony. 

However, some people do seem to have this glorified ‘direction’ in life, like my friend who’s on the road to completing their ACCA, passing the accountancy exams and finally, becoming an accountant as they are from a family loaded with accountants. If you ask them about this direction, they may say that they were ‘destined’ for it, but in reality, their parents grabbed them by the wrists and drew out this set path for them, calling it direction. Of course, that may be what my friend actually desires, but it’s not something they decided on their own. Maybe that same friend wanted to be an artist, or maybe they wanted to be a professional gamer; a ‘dream career’ can only be called so if the job makes you happy and is something you want to do. 

For most people, these ‘dream careers’ require drive; the willpower to fight for them. Not everyone has supportive parents who are willing to listen to whatever their kids’ ‘hearts desire’. Hence, we have to fight for it. Reach for it. Some teenagers are fortunate enough to have open-minded parents, willing to look at a bigger picture where the kid's happiness also finds its way onto the canvas. But some feel they know what’s best and have a set route for their children, making sure they follow the carefully planned, detail-oriented path for their life because anything besides that is a ‘meaningless career’. I’m one of those kids.

But I’m not limiting ‘directionism’ to just careers; life is a lot bigger than that. Direction can be narrowed, and moulded into a straightforward concept applicable to all bouts of life, with the help of principles. Morals, promises, core values, principles, whatever you want to call it, simply put, means to follow a guideline or concept that governs one's behaviour. Principles are basically rules that people set for themselves to follow. Maybe you’re feeling lost in life; you have no idea what to do, what to pursue, or where you’ll be after a certain time period (of course, no one truly knows that). This bewilderment can make you feel pathetic, frustrated, or may cause you to not care at all. You may feel like your peers seem to know what they want, where they want to be, how to treat the people they like and how to treat the people they don’t like, and you feel that you’re somewhere stuck in the middle; you just can’t decide. When you hear the word ‘principle’, you may think of an extremely motivated individual in the gym yelling the words ‘STRENGTH, HUMILITY, JUSTICE’, and you may deem yelling these mantras as useless and creating no difference whatsoever. And I agree. I don’t see the point in yelling it out as if that would instil these heroic values within myself. That was until I decided to look more into principles.

I was already feeling lost, pathetic and worthless, so there would be no hurt in researching something corny that just might help. After reading a few articles and stories, I decided on a little process that eventually made me feel better about myself. Firstly, question what you feel you lack and write it down. It may not be a very pretty sight but keep going. Secondly, question what you are afraid of and write it down. Everyone has at least one fear, be it someone, something, a feeling, or an event, but very few are willing to admit it. Some people don’t even know what they’re afraid of but write it off as a different type of feeling. For this process, you have to feel humility and feel that your imperfections and weaknesses are real; no one’s going to read it, just you and yourself. Thirdly, ask yourself what do you want? What do you desire? Is there something you want to achieve? It could be topping your class; it could be asking out that one pretty girl; it could be giving more time and care to your loved ones; it could be anything. Usually, this achievement is hidden somewhere in overcoming the fears you had previously written down, so do take reference to that. And finally, understand what feelings and actions could help you gradually take down the above-mentioned problems. Maybe even make a mantra, as corny as it sounds. 

I made one for myself: “Wisdom, courage, differentiation, control”. If you didn’t cringe at that, then read further: I’m afraid of making impulsive decisions that lead to horrendous situations. I’m afraid of looking weak in school in front of my friends. I’m afraid of the popular kids making fun of me because there’s a bit of a language barrier between us as I don’t speak the national language too well. I’m afraid of not knowing who my friends are. I’m afraid of being viewed as dumb. I’m afraid of underachieving. I’m afraid of losing. I acknowledge my fears.

I allocate wisdom to the fear of losing, underachieving, and being viewed as dumb. I allocate courage to standing up to kids who make fun of me. I allocate differentiation to knowing where my people lie. And finally, I allocate control to the fear of making impulsive decisions. Now putting these problems next to words is far from a ‘solution’, but acknowledgement is the first step to bettering oneself and having a general idea of what I need to overcome these problems gives me direction. It gives me a little more certainty than I had yesterday.

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