I have been working with university graduates in their mid-20s for the past few years and what I have been finding is that a couple of years into full-time employment post university they are asking:
Is this it?
This cuts me to the core when I hear this.
1. Are we actually selling a future to the kids of today that is so vastly different from what they find when they get to full-time employment? Because the question Is this it? seems to show that what they have been sold isn’t what they have bought. It’s as though the happy shiny future turns out to be a dull grey reality. We have to get better at talking the reality of working life to kids and/or change the reality so people don’t question it when they get there. Personally, I’m all for the latter.
2. If someone is asking Is this it? then it would seem to be telling them (and me!) quite clearly that they are not doing their soul’s work. They are not doing something that inspires them and plays to their strengths and skills. It may even mean that they don’t know what their strengths and skills are because no-one ever suggested they stop and look at themselves while they were on the vast conveyer belt of the education system. If you are doing something that interests and challenges you, that you are learning at and finding of interest you won’t be asking Is this it?. You will be asking, how do I get more of this? We need to help children and adults learn about who they are so they can make conscious choices in their lives that fit with their core values.
3. We need to be better at explaining that life is a journey and we are the ones in control of the vehicle and the destination. We have control over our lives so if we are not liking the current reality then we can make choices to change it. I would love for more young adults to feel empowered to make changes that suit them and not just continue on the road because they started on it. At any point we can instigate change in our lives.
4. There is no one fixed reality. No one way to define success. So by asking Is this it? it is as though we believe there can only be one way to be a grown up. As though the corporate route of wearing a suit and working for the man is the only way to be a successful adult. We need to get better at showing the variety of ways that you can live a happy, successful, fulfilled and meaningful life. We need to help children and adults define success for themselves and then give them the tools and support to make it happen.
5. We need to support people questioning the way life looks as a grown-up, because those asking Is this it? are looking for others also questioning. They feel as though they are the only ones struggling with the reality and wanting to make a change in their lives. Their call is to see if they can find others also asking the same question they are.
The more people I come across asking Is this it?, the more I am committed to help people realise that we all have choices in our lives.
The more stories I hear of people who are living lives in a way that works for them, the more I want to celebrate and share them.
I dream of a world where people know themselves and are connected to others. I want everyone to be living lives that are meaningful and fulfilling to them. I believe that if we are all doing something we care about, we are more likely to care about each other and this world we live in, leading to a better planet and a better society.
I am currently developing a programme to help graduates who are questioning their current situation and looking for the next step to come together and learn about themselves, connect with people in a similar situation and to take conscious actions about their next steps. If you have people in your lives (friends, colleagues, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, godchildren etc) who are asking Is this it? I would love to talk to them to help develop this programme further. Please get in touch if this sounds like you, or someone you know.