What Should I Do With My Life?

As I noted in a previous post, this week I am spending (will have spent) a lot of time on the road, driving in my car, to Pittsburgh, New York, and Connecticut. I get tired of scanning the radio stations, and I am not that high-tech yet to have Satellite radio in my Toyota Rav4. I do have a CD player, and although I have quite an extensive CD collection, I tend to have my favorites and listen to them over and over again. My current favorites: James Blunt’s Back to Bedlam, Howie Day’s Stop All the World Now, and U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (I’ve played that one so much that I ended up buying another copy of it…). Until recently, I wasn’t much into buying books on tape, but last week I picked up (on sale) the cassette tape version (yes, my car still has a cassette player) of Po Bronson’s What Should I Do With My Life (2003).

I have read reviews of this book before and watched Mr. Bronson’s appearance on Oprah so I was familiar with his writing. For this book, he interviewed numerous individuals (hearing some 900 stories), and included 50 inspiring stories — including among them people who had unearthed their true calling, or at least those who were willing to try. As he interviewed folks, many posed their own questions during the research process, including (as noted in the introduction):

Should I put my faith in mystical signs of destiny, or shuld my sense of “a right fit” be based on logical, practical reasons?
Should I accept my lot, make peace with my ambition, and stop stressing out?
Why do I feel guilty for thinking about this?
Should I make money first, to fund my dream?
How do I tell the difference between a curiosity and a passion?
How do I weigh making myself a better person against external achievements?
When do I need to change my situation, and when is it me that needs to change?
What should I tell my parents, who worry about me?
If I have a child, will my frustration over my work go away?
What will it feel like when I get there? (How will I know I’m there?)

While listening to these tapes, it became clear to me that I struggle with many of these same questions. I feel that I am at a crossroads in my own life and career. For many months now I have been thinking a great deal about where my professional life is headed. I know one thing for certain–it will involve writing. The question is what type of writing and how much? Can I make it as a full-time freelancer? Do I want to write for newspapers, magazines, corporations? What about all the future book ideas I have swirling around in my brain? Can I do it all and not burn myself out?

I will continue to address this issue in the coming months, and will probably even blog about it some more. In the meantime, these tapes have provided much “food for thought”, and have been a great way to pass the time in the car as I rack up the miles on my Rav’s odometer.