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Esc ‘How-To’ #3: How to work out what to do with your life

Quick note:

This post appeared on Al Humphreys’ blog last week – here.

Am posting it up here because a) we’re pretty chuffed that he likes what we are trying to achieve enough to ask us to write a guest article and b) because I am behind in the Esc How-To’s and thought that this one deserved a posting…

18 ways to try and answer the question “what am I going to do with my life”?

1. Write a list of things you want to have achieved by 2014. Are you on track? Chris Guillebeau is going to visit every country in the world before he is 35 (his personal 5-year plan). What are you going to do?

2. Do some manual work. I just spent 3 weeks working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week for the wine harvest in northern Portugal. Incredible way to have a think about things. I ended up having my entire arm filled with scribbled ideas by the end of the day. www.workingholidayinfo.com

3. Follow blogs. Lots of them. Start a Google Reader account. Work out who is writing about stuff online that interests you and follow them. Participate.

4. Volunteer. Find a charitable event and go support it. Volunteer regularly in your spare time. What could you do, full-time, which helps others? www.leapanywhere.com – www.london.gov.uk/volunteer

5. Spend some time alone. Just take some time out. An hour, a day, a weekend, a week. Have a good old think.

6. Speak to your (most optimistic) best friend. Ask them honestly what they think you can do well. Are they right? Are you using those skills today? Do you want to be using them?

7. Subscribe to a magazine. National Geographic. Wired. The Ecologist. Amateur Photographer. Bike Magazine. Read about whatever interests you. Work out what is going on in that field. Want to get into it? How do you think you could get there?

8. Keep a diary. Not a bleeding heart, I hate my life diary (unless you want to!). But a “from a practical perspective, how am I going to transition from a job / situation / career that I don’t enjoy to one that I will?” diary. Coach yourself through the challenges by writing them down.

9. Read. As widely as you can. Join a library. Be inquisitive. Where do your true interests lie? Some of these won’t translate into occupations. Some might. What could you happily spend 50 hours a week doing? For the next 40 years? Haven’t found it yet? Don’t worry – neither have most people. If you don’t like reading, download free podcasts! http://bit.ly/1fJF7b – www.lovereading.co.uk

10. Go to an inspirational talk. No shortage of these in London. www.talks.forlondoners.comwww.speakersfromtheedge.com. Join the RGS. Join The Frontline Club.

11. Watch films. Into the Wild. The Game. Tenacity on the TasmanBig River Man.

12. Have a wake-up call. This isn’t something you can control and I hope it doesn’t happen to you anytime soon. However, worth remembering that life is fragile and short. Don’t waste your time. My 20-year old brother was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 2 years ago. Thankfully he beat it. But it certainly makes you reassess your perspectives on life.

13. Get the adrenaline pumping. Jump out of a plane with a parachute on your back. Bungee jump.

14. Be a geek. Search the Internet. Information and knowledge are free today. If you’ve got an idea, an interest, a passion there will be people out there organising, discussing, and doing something about it. Find them.

15. Go abroad for the weekend (pay to offset your carbon!) – get out of your normal environment. Realise that there are lots of different ways to live your life.

16. Exercise (now I really sound like a self-help guru!). My best (and worst) ideas always come when running (often with nowhere to write them down before they disappear). Either that or in the shower….

17. Take a course in your spare time. In anything and everything. What are you interested in? Learn more about itwww.open.ac.uk

18. Make a plan… gratuitous plug of my Escape the City co-founder’s own escape plan… Watch this space for his escape from a job that doesn’t fulfill him to a life that does!