For fellow soul-searchers, one potentially useful framework is what I call the “Doctor’s Test”.
Imagine you got a call from your doctor, and were told (God forbid) you have a terminal illness and only have 5 years to live. How would you spend the rest of your life?
If you could think of a project or two, should those be what you must do right now?
For me, if I have 5 years, I’d write like there’s no tomorrow and dump everything I learned – hate to go with any part of my experience and knowledge still held in my brain, unshared. If I have more time, I’d like to build a framework and platform so that others can do the same before they go.
The other good thing about this approach is, it allows you to think shorter term. We often grapple with the giant question of “what should I do with my life” and get overwhelmed by the immense weight of the question. Instead of thinking about the entire life, we can just think about the next 3-5 years. Life is usually a series of projects, each 3-5 years long – even for those who work at the same place for life. If you enjoy the current phase of 3-5 years, chances are you’ll continue on the similar journey in the next 3-5 years, and before you know you’ll have accomplished life’s work.
So the “Doctor’s Test” is not a morbid question; it actually alleviates the weight of the 800lb question of “what should I do with my life” and helps us find clarity and purpose more easily.