In my book Boredom to Brilliance I write about that time in my life when I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for my life's work and the lack of confidence that it produces in a person's psychology. The fact is, until you are found you are lost and being lost you are unsure of yourself. This is the problem that I would say most young people face in their confrontation with the future.
What am I going to do? Who am I going to be? What is my life going to be about? What do I want?
For many teenagers it is the immediate things that they want like a car to drive so they aren't dependent upon their parents for transportation and having a feeling of independence. Having the right clothes to wear so they are accepted by the group of peers they choose and to be "cool" is also very important. In my time having a part time job after school was really something to have and is not because of the money, but because it meant you found a place in the real world, although the money was nice to have.
It was called "spending money". Which really isn't the best thing to call money, because money is not meant to be spent, but rather to be invested and grown, but as a teenager you don't think like that at all, and you certainly don't get it as a part of your education. But that is another story.
The answer for me was in music. I wasn't compelled to do music to get famous, or rich, or anything. I was just really happy to have something that I loved to do. It didn't even matter to me whether people knew it or not. I wanted to write music, play music, and create my own songs. But, I was always a loner in it. Every now and then I'd get together with people to do music, but mostly it was me in my converted garage multipurpose bedroom where I honed my musical skills into the middle of the night.
In watching an interview with Prince, he said that he had often been bullied growing up because of his size, and that even his father wouldn't let him play the piano because he wasn't as good as him. When his father left he started playing and doing music transformed him not only to himself but to his peers.
That is what it is all about isn't it? It is about finding your home in life. Where you are comfortable living, doing something you feel an inevitability to do, and something you are good at. You seek out teachers and mentors who can help you. You find contemporaries who support and augment you.
You are no longer lost. You are found.
Now, music isn't the only area that this can happen in. Lucky are those who discover writing, history, law, math, science, medicine, business, theater, dance, athletics as their life's passion. It may be in the trades like electricity, plumbing, construction, farming, friseur, factory worker, grocery clerk, restaurant, hotel, and tourism industries. Or you go into the area of government service, such as the police force, the military, the offices of government and run to hold elected office. You can work in education, a lifelong and supported field where you can work inside of your subject matter and help young people develop themselves in those areas. None are better than the others, they are different and serve different roles in the kaleidoscope of society.
I think when people look at society, they often see the restrictions and problems that change often brings. Today the shift from fossil fuels causes a lot of stress for those whose lives were provided for by them. The cheese is proverbially being moved, and if you aren't capable of moving with it, you starve. But that doesn't mean it is wrong, it means that it is a new opportunity and provides a new, cleaner, and safer future for everyone.
Nothing physical lasts forever. But the determination and commitment to a mission does. That is why having one is so vitally important. Knowing what you are about is most of the game in life.
But, one area that causes many trouble has nothing to do with their mission or the choice of their life's work. It has to do with managing the income you produce with it so that you also become more and more financially secure in your life.
The difficulty here is that if you are focused on what you do, it is often hard to also focus on the financial management side of your life, and it is possibly the one universal areas that affects everyone equally... and here is the thing...
...nobody can do that for you!
Every person has to do that for themselves. Yes, you go and get help to do it, but it is YOU that has to go get help with it, and then you make that a part of your daily existence. It is one area that absolutely be taken care of, and if you can't do those tasks yourself, you have to get help. The dumbest thing ever is to need get something done, and not getting it done.
One of the big things for me was that most people I knew during my career were also artists, and they all did the same thing, they took their pieces of paper in a box, and let the accountant do their taxes. That is all they did in terms of getting professional financial help. Professional accountants aren't there to just do taxes, they are there to help you manage your money in the most advantageous ways to you. The doing taxes part for them is a minor job.
Managing money is the single most important life skill that everyone is responsible for in their lives. If everyone did that, then there would be no need of government programs aided by taxpayer dollars to make up for the deficiencies in people's financial skills.
It is really important to know your budget, how much you can wisely spend in any one area. In life the real question isn't how much can I have from what I earn, but how much can I earn from what I earn? What is the smallest house you can live in should be the question, not what is the biggest house I can afford? It isn't what is the best car I can afford, the question is what is the vehicle that serves my needs and is the minimum of what I can tolerate?
If we want to have a quality life, we have to make quality decisions, based on facts and not ideas. We have to know what the consequences of our decisions are. We have to know what we want out of life, so we can find a partner who wants the same things and having a partner in life that is in sync with you is the most valuable and single most important decision you ever make. If you want misery in life, choose the wrong person or place that relationship in jeopardy. You will lose everything if you don't have that, most importantly your spirit for living.
At the end of the day you must be true to yourself and your calling and every decision you make must be made with the purity of that mission in mind. Anything you do that drags you away from that is your enemy. Make no doubt about it.
The world is full of shiny objects that paint a rosy picture outside of your life's mission. Don't allow yourself to be led down those roads. Become committed to yourself and your mission. Then people will know they can depend on you for that. If you are off chasing rainbow ends, you do nobody any good, because the very nature of a rainbow is that it requires distance for it to be visible. You can't reach the rainbows end, because that isn't how rainbows work.
Right now, I am working on a new mission in my life. It is music related and yet it is a business venture and it serves a specific area of the music industry, if that is what you can call music. My challenge is not to get bogged down in the business side of the business, because if that is all there is then I can't do it, because...I can't do it, very well. So I have to get all of that done outside of myself, and it isn't necessarily an inexpensive thing to do.
But, it is a mission I am compelled to do because I love musicians and music. I believe that being a musician should be a viable career choice, and not always be dependent on "being hired" to do something to stay in it. So I am trying to build an infrastructure in support of the independent musician. So musicians are able not only to become better musicians, but also to become better stewards of their financial wellbeing.
I found my mission in music when I was a teenager, and didn't really get started on the path until I was 20 years old. Now at 60, I am trying to establish myself in another area of music. Getting it launched and going well is a big task and I will need the cooperation of others to do it well. Musicians need this, I know they need it, and they know they do to. I'm committed to that.