Today on Quora: Can you choose my life?

A treatise on how to make a wise decision

Oh to be young and millennial. I kid. It would be great if I could go back to my twenties, but only if I could keep all the wisdom I have earned. I was reminded of this when I visited my new fave site, Quora. Today the question was: “I just realized that I don’t know what I should do with my life. What should I do?”

The asker is an engineering student in India and needs to make a decision on the next steps of his education but “I am totally confused now.” As I read this, I thought, welcome to the real world. Most of us are confused from time to time. But this wasn’t the first or only question I’ve run across on the site asking for advice on the future. Makes me wonder, have we given up on how to make choices for ourselves? Is there implicit trust that those on the Internet know what’s better for us?

I do know it’s infinitely easier to make decisions and bestow judgments on others. Could that be because we have no emotional capital in others’ destinies as we have in our own? Just a point to ponder.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Mystic and philosopher Joel Goldsmith tells us to impersonalize and nothingize to be able to be clearer. By that, as I understand it, is to take yourself out of the equation and recognize the power of the Divine (impersonalize) and to dismiss all emotional energy (nothingize) to allow the only power, that of the Divine, to shine. (

Of course, this is all easier said than done. Finding a way to look at a question almost clinically with no emotion – “Just the fact, ma’am” – takes practice.

Finding the Most Important Advisor: You

Here’s what I shared on Quora:

“It’s so easy to be confused. Thinking about what to do and how to do it brings up a lot of choices. Asking a group of people for an opinion only adds to it. Ask 100 people, get 100 answers. This will only confuse you more.

That said, David Ogilvy, a well-known and very successful creative director and advertising man, once said to read everything you can, learn and analyze all the data, then go out fishing.

What that means for us is simple: take all the comments, advice and insight you can get. Do the SWOT analysis (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats). Write the pros and cons lists. Study the curriculum for the Core, Non-Core and MBA degrees. Dream about where you want to be in 1, 5 and 10 years. Then go for a long walk. Contemplate your life and what you want to learn. Take time off and listen to your heart. If you need to go away for two to three days, do so. Turn off the computer and unplug. Listen to music, paint a landscape. Whatever it takes. But listen to the “still small voice” inside your myriad of thoughts. When you feel fully rested, sit down with a notebook and a pen. Write what comes to mind. Don’t edit. Just put every word the pops into your mind on the page. Do this for a few days. You will shock yourself when you realize how organized you really are. How clear your intent comes through.

This is direction that comes from the only one that is important: you.

 Good luck and let us know how it works.”

I wish I could remember the name of the book from Ogilvy—it was back in the dark ages before ebooks, maybe the early 80’s. I read a book from him and one from Roger Van Oech on creativity. They both helped me figure out how to reach deep inside to “find the words.” Nonetheless, they were influential in shaping this response.

Do you have a big decision to make? If so, would you ask an Internet-wide group, a small intimate group of friends or your own wisdom for guidance? Would you test this method? If so, share if it works!


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