Have you ever struggled in deciding what to do with your life? Recently I founded Elliot For Water, a Google that creates water every time you search, but before starting this project I found myself in this strange situation where I was standing there without really knowing where I wanted to go next. It felt like being in front of a crossroads and not being able to decide which direction to take, but I think that most of us have been there. Sometimes it happens because we are afraid, and sometimes because we are just very confused. The problem is, you still end up getting stuck in this procrastinative situation of not going anywhere, or taking the easy and often wrong way.
In my specific case, I reached the fork during my last year at the business school. I was studying in Paris and, when I arrived there, I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do: become the Next Big Thing on Wall Street, invest in renewables energies and green technologies and make so much money that I could retire by the age of 40. Basically a copy and paste of the story of Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. At some point in my studies, though, I got asked by my school if I wanted to take on a second major, and I thought that Entrepreneurship could have been something cool to add, so I did. What I did not know, though, is that this decision would have completely changed who I wanted to become in life.
In the middle of my last academic year, I found myself completely split in two, one side of me was visualizing myself as the new Gordon Gekko, working in the stock exchange of Singapore and making a ridiculous amount of money, while the other side was telling me, “Are you really going to work for someone else? Don’t you want to be your own boss and start something that is going to be all yours?”.
What really helped me, at this point, was the book that introduced me to the Universe and that started the shift in my life: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Normally, I believe that we have all the answers we need inside ourselves, we just have to listen, but sometimes, especially at the beginning of our travel when we are not very used to paying attention, the Universe can help us find our way: that’s where the book helped me.
The Alchemist talks about the story of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd that leaves everything he knows to go chase his dream and find a treasure. The book explains how the Universe encourages those who are trying to live their Personal Legend, which is really nothing more than our mission on the earth. In order to help us find this mission and chase our dreams, in fact, the Universe puts on our way some signs, or as the author of the book calls them: omens. In my experience, these signs have often shown up as coincidences, though they have many forms. The first time I realized I was in front of an omen was when I was facing the crossroads.
As I said before, I really didn’t know where to go next with my life and, for this reason, I decided to test the book and its teachings. What I did is very simple: first, I shut up and stop overthinking and worrying about what could have or could not have happened; second, with a calm mind and the confidence that I had already all the answers, I thanked the Universe AS IF It had already shown me the path; the last thing to do was to keep that calm, live in the present, and pay attention: what happened next is incredible.
“Learn to recognize the omens, and follow them”.
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
That same morning I went to school to attend my daily classes and, funnily enough, the topic of the first course was a study that explained how each person, based on his physiology, is more talented in certain types of business roles than others. That sounded quite like a good premise, didn’t it? At some point, the teacher started talking about people with low blood pressure, like me, and he went on on describing the personality of these people: trust me when I tell you that it felt like he was describing myself. At this exact moment the magic happened, and the omen showed up: “This type of personality is perfect to start new projects, companies, and things from scratch”. Boom, that was it! I had my answer written in red capital letters on the blackboard in front of me. It was freaking impossible to miss it.
From that moment I completely put aside the Wall Street path, and I solely focused on becoming an entrepreneur. Little did I know that, eventually, I would have become a social entrepreneur trying to bring safe water to millions of people, but that’s the fun part of life, isn’t it? Completely unpredictable as soon as you let it unfold.
I can guarantee that this decision has been the best of my life. It started a circle of reactions, consequences, and coincidences that I could have never imagined. When I look back at all the things that happened to me I clearly see how every little detail, good or bad, was there at the perfect time, in the perfect place, and for the perfect reason. This whole situation made me become grateful for everything happening in my life, and it makes me believe that I’m definitely on the right track.
If there’s something that I could take out from this first experience, is that if I want to follow the right path for me, and achieve my dreams, I always have to listen: to the Universe, to the signs, and to myself!