I met a guy at the weekend in a nightclub in Marbella.
It was filled with hen parties in short sailor outfits and guys who’d drunk way too much.
We stood, a little aside from the dance floor, and tried to work out how we decide what to do with our life. This is what he said when I admitted that all the things that fascinate and inspire me have also made me confused –
Chose your top three passions and follow them. If they don’t work, chose the next three. And then again. That is all we can do.
The conversation has stayed with me. It cut through the noise and the flashing lights and echoed the next morning when I woke up.
Chose the top three. Just three. And start from there.
How to decide what I want my life to focus on has been an ongoing discussion for me. It started, a little belatedly, when I realised that I had a future, and has peaked and troughed ever since. Sometimes, it does not seem to matter because just living is enough. Sometimes, it wakes me up in the middle of the night because we only have one life and how, when there is so much to choose from, do we work out how to spend our time.
I do not know.
I asked the guy, as I was digesting the obviousness of his reply, how he whittled it down. How he took all the possibilities and worked out which three areas meant the most. Prioritise, was the answer, which includes being ruthless for a little while.
This has also stayed with me.
The whittling down is not permanent, he said, but it means that you can focus and discover whether the focus is right.
And so I have been thinking – because it offers me a framework, this approach – about the three things that get me going. The passions that feel like a starting place for working out the end goal. It has lessened the fear of admitting that some things are less important than others, and has given me a formula that feels slightly less daunting to fill in.
Three things. For the moment. And then three more if they are not the right three.
I am not sure whether this is over-simplistic, but when there’s so much out there to choose from, it at least gives me a kind of route.