What should be our default direction in life?

I would like to discuss a very common phenomenon we all experience in our careers from time to time. It happens to us all that every now and then we can find ourselves demotivated or feeling we don’t have a clear direction to go in our lives. When we find ourselves in these situations there are ways we can get ourselves out of them, regardless of what we may be running into.

Let’s look at a few examples of situations that you may have run into:

  • As an employee: you find yourself not interested in your work because it is getting boring to you or you feel that not enough acknowledgement or reward is being given to you;
  • As an employer: you find yourself not working as hard in your business because you feel it is not getting anywhere and no one seems to care about you or your business;
  • As a spouse or business partner: you find yourself starting to be “calculating” about how much you are contributing to the relationship and you are not sure if you should be continuing to do your best;
  • As an investor: you find yourself starting to be fearful or upset about the return you are getting from the market and feeling not sure if you should continue to invest.

If you look deeper into the real reasons for us losing motivation or direction in the above scenarios, we can see a clear pattern of a combination of the following two factors:

  1. Mismanagement of our expectations; i.e. we are over-valuing our contribution or under-valuing what has been given to us;
  2. Letting our environment dictate our behaviour; rather than focusing on doing the best we can in our current role.

If we have to simplify the above 2 reasons into one, you can clearly see that reason 1) is caused by reason 2). Hence the fact that we “not focusing on doing our best in the role we are in” is the root course of all demotivation and loss of direction.

Let me apply this to the above scenarios where we may have lost motivation and direction:

  • As an employee: if you focus on doing the best you can in your current role, you will find your work always requires constant improvement. If you are putting your heart and soul into it, you will then find that your work is far more interesting than you think. If you don’t believe me, try listing down 5 things you could be doing right now to make the quality of your work better and then start doing something about them immediately. Don’t do it for other people, just do this to amuse yourself like a child would. You will quickly regain your motivation and sense of direction in your work;
  • As an employer: if you focus on doing the best you can in your current role, you will find your business requires a lot of improvement, if you start putting your heart & soul into it.  Again, similar to the role of an employee, you have the role of an employer. In this, you can randomly select 5 items that need improvement in your business, and start working on them without looking at rewards or acknowledgement from others, but purely to amuse yourself and prove that you can make them work just like a child would. You will find yourself starting to like your business again.
  • As a spouse or business partner: if you focus on doing the best you can in your current role as a spouse or business partner, you will quickly discover that there are a few things you can do to improve things between you. If you start working on those improvements without being “calculating” about your potential rewards or acknowledgement, you will find your relationship becoming interesting and exciting again. Your sense of direction and motivation will come back as long as you stop focusing on what your spouse or business partner should be doing for you in return, and instead focus on what you should be doing for the relationship.
  • As an investor: if you focus on doing the best you can in your current role as an investor, you will find that you may be able to generate more income and manage your cash flow a bit better regardless of what the markets are doing. Once you start working on your own finances and investment strategies, you will find that you will be less reliant on the market’s reaction and be more excited about following your own rules to invest.

So when you do find yourself feeling a loss of direction in your life, what should be your best default direction to take? The answer is simply to “start focusing on doing the best you can in your current role and ignore the external environment’s reaction to what you are doing”. I firmly believe that once we get used to finding this internally guided direction, we can be motivated to do just about anything we are required to do. And with motivation comes ultimate success, satisfaction and reward.

Until next month, happy investing.


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