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You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World


It’s totally fine if you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, especially if you’re just now beginning to ponder the possibilities. So take a break from worrying about that question, and try answering this one instead: “How do I make decisions about my life?” I’ll bet that, like most people (me included), you fall into one of the following categories:


The Flip-Flopper
If there’s one thing the Flip-Flopper doesn’t lack, it’s ideas. You’ve got lots of interests and passions, tons of things you want to accomplish. The problem? Sometimes it feels like you have too many career goals. Your aspirations can change in an instant:

Hmmm . . . I love pizza. Maybe I want to be a pizza chef and open a restaurant one day. Or, I could become a food critic—I’ll write about the best dishes at restaurants all over town! Or a cookbook author? I’ll teach other people to make tasty meals. But I also love electronics and technology . . . maybe I’ll build a robot that makes pizza?!

On the one hand, having more than one vision for your future isn’t exactly a bad thing. Since you’re able to see an abundance of possibilities, you’ll likely be able to create an abundance of opportunities for yourself. On the other hand, Flip-Floppers tend to flit from one idea to the next really quickly, often with little to no follow-through. Ironically, the Flip-Flopper’s lack of focus can prevent her from getting anything done at all.

I can relate: I am mostly a Flip-Flopper (although I’ve definitely got some Blank-Drawer and Under-Thinker tendencies, too). After all, I’m an artist, an animator, an eco-friendly fashion designer, an entrepreneur, a coder, a philanthropist, a writer, and a motivational speaker—that’s a lot of balls to have in the air all at once! It is possible to pursue all of your passions, though, without getting too sidetracked or overwhelmed in the process. The key is to focus on just one thing at a time. For example, I choose one thing to pour my energy into—like starting my business, Maya’s Ideas—and work on it until it feels sustainable. Only then do I take on a new project. In contrast, had I tried to launch a nonprofit organization at the same time I was starting my for-profit business, I’d be more all over the place than I am now (not to mention plain exhausted)!

Like any Flip-Flopper, I’ve still got tons of ideas that I haven’t made any headway on yet. Another way I stay focused is by stashing those ideas in the “concept vault.” That way, I don’t have to worry about losing them; I’m free to get back to them when the time is right. I’ll teach you how to make your own concept vault (a.k.a. an Idea Book), which will help you slow down, process, and organize all your amazing ideas, and choose which ones you most want to pursue.


The Blank-Drawer
If the Flip-Flopper sees too many possibilities out there, the Blank-Drawer just isn’t seeing enough. You have the drive, you know you want to do something meaningful, but every time you’re asked that magic question—“What do you want to do with your life?”—you draw a blank. Sound familiar?

In my experience, Blank-Drawers tend to be very passionate individuals—they think of their time and talents as extremely important resources, and they absolutely refuse to waste any energy pursuing a goal that doesn’t impress, inspire, or move them. In fact, Blank-Drawers often know more about what they don’t like than what they do. For example, you may love art and art history, but you’re not great at drawing or painting, you don’t want to be a teacher, and you find museums to be stuffy and boring—so working at one is out, too. Or, you’re passionate about nature and the environment, but you can’t picture yourself working as a scientist, or an engineer, or an activist. Blank-Drawers are often very picky when it comes to crafting their future.

Now, this pickiness has some definite pros. On the upside, Blank-Drawers tend to be extremely ambitious people. As soon as they find their “something,” they focus on it 100 percent. Blank-Drawers are often great at time management, too. (After all, the last thing a Blank-Drawer wants to do is drain her time and talents on something that isn’t truly “worth it” or meaningful.)

But there’s a downside to being so sure about what you like and don’t like, especially at such a young age: you may wind up limiting yourself. You might miss opportunities that you didn’t even know existed because you were too afraid or stubborn or reluctant to explore. It’s great to be focused, but by trying new things (even when you think you might not get anything out of it in the long run), you still gain valuable experience and grow as a person.

If you’re a Blank-Drawer, I will help you expand your horizons, encourage you to explore and experiment, and help you determine whether what you think you know about yourself is really actually true.


The Under-Thinker
The Under-Thinker isn’t changing her mind every day, flitting from one idea to the next like the Flip-Flopper. And she’s not as picky as the Blank-Drawer. When it comes to answering that all-important question—“What do you want to do with your life?”—the Under-Thinker just hasn’t thought about it yet. Instead, she’s focused on the basics, like acing that math test, winning that soccer game, or making toast without setting the kitchen on fire. The future? For the Under-Thinker, that’s a looong way off.

Lots of people, young and old, don’t give the future a whole lot of thought, because they’re focused on the here and now; they’re living in the present. And while there are some benefits to being in-the-moment (Under-Thinkers almost always take time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak), the problem with this approach is that by ignoring your future—by refusing to think about it—you could be ignoring your potential, too.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why you aren’t thinking about tomorrow. Perhaps you feel discouraged? Maybe you’ve been criticized in the past:

What do you mean you don’t have a clue about what you’d like to do? You should really have some ideas by now! What have you been spending all your time doing?!

That kind of criticism is not only hurtful; it can paralyze you with fear. (Maybe my parents/teachers/coaches are right. Look at [insert name of successful friend here]. She’s so far ahead of me in figuring out this stuff!) Sometimes the way we cope with that fear is to shut down, to just under-think the whole thing, to forget about and ignore the possibilities.

Listen up: You are not alone. There are a zillion Under­Thinkers out there, and many of them have gone on to achieve great things. So don’t listen to the little voice in your head that says there’s something wrong with you for not knowing what your goals are yet. (That little voice, by the way, could be your own voice, or it could be someone else’s, even someone you love and respect—like your mom or dad—who’s just worried about your future, too.) All you need is a little help getting pointed in the right direction.

If you’re an Under-Thinker, a dream board may help you discover your passions naturally, without putting so much pressure on yourself.

Your creativity is a gift. So don’t ignore your creative impulses, even if they seem silly or childish. Pay attention to your play. Take your fun seriously. Who knows? You could be doing something “just for fun” that could mark the beginning of a career path.

You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World
by by Maya S. Penn