Stop Trying to Figure It All Out


Anyone else get stressed about not having it all figured out? I know I do. All the time.

I constantly catch myself thinking through what I want my life to look like in the future, sorting through different what-if scenarios in my head, and trying to piece together how it’s all going to work. It can be fun to fantasize, but more often than not it leaves me with stress and anxiety instead of certainty and answers.

I hear myself thinking, “Well if I want to live that lifestyle, then I need to be doing these things, and then I need to be making X dollars, which, wow that’s actually a lot, and I don’t even have any leads, and I’m going to have to get so much experience how am I even going to do that, I need to get started on something, ANYTHING right now.”

This inability to see a clearly defined path stresses me out. I want to be successful and happy and in order to make that happen, your future needs to be maximized, and sorted out, and planned meticulously… right?


You need to pay your bills and plan vacations and go to med school if you want to become a Doctor, but I’ve come to realize we tend to go overboard thinking about our future lives. We get sucked into over analyzing and obsessing over the details and the relationships and the timelines of the not-yet-lived.

And no matter how hard you try or how much energy you give it, it’s a game that you can’t win. It’s like trying to put a puzzle together when you don’t have all of the pieces.

Down the line, if the things you envision for yourself right now come true, it will most likely be in a way that you couldn’t have even pictured. You’ll have to dodge, and juke, and get creative, exactly like you’ve done in the past. When you were 16, did you imagine you’d be where you are right now? If you did, did it play out exactly like you saw it?

That’s if you never change your mind. The more likely scenario is that you’ll end up with a life that looks vastly different from what you’re envisioning at this moment. Doors will open and shut and you may completely change your path. How many times have you heard someone say “I’m really happy now, but I never expected to be doing…”.

I had always planned on spending two years in San Francisco, two years in New York, and then I’d move abroad. But life didn’t happen like that. My experiences changed me as a person, and as a result so did my future plans. I had never expected to move to Chicago, but I wouldn’t trade my time here for the world. It’s taught me so much about myself and about what I actually want out of life.

And maybe I will still move abroad. Maybe I won’t. The bottomline is that none of it can be exactly predicted. Nor, honestly, would I want it to. One of the best parts of life is its ability to surprise you with its twists and turns. If we knew exactly how things were going to happen, we’d have nothing left to dream about.

Instead of obsessing and trying to predict a fictional future, I think the better strategy is to focus on what’s going on right now, today, in this moment. What can I do today that’s going to get me closer to what I want tomorrow? Or if I don’t know exactly what I want, what’s out there for me to start exploring?

While some may think kind of thinking is short-sighted, it’s much more true to how life happens. You don’t make changes or achieve things in a single leap or bound. You do it in a series of small, daily steps. Why not plan that way too? Then everything becomes so much more manageable. You narrow your focus and let go of the anxiety around the immense ambiguity.

So stop trying to figure it all out. Focus on the present, take it a step at a time, and you’ll end up exactly where you need to be.


Photo by Kelly Compton Photography, check out her work here –>

Posted by HaydenHumphrey, 2 comments
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