I don’t know what I want to do with my life – that is a loaded thought. Ask yourself what you want most in life. Your answer is probably just to be happy, comfortable, and worry-free. Of course, being happy means being at peace with who you are and the choices you’ve made thus far.
Happiness, although a relatively straightforward concept, is not easy to achieve. Everyone is born with a different set of tools. You have your own talents, struggles, dreams, and experiences. This difference means we all have to go on our own paths.
No matter what circumstances you’re in right now, you have a world of opportunity laid out before you. That knowledge is overwhelming, and you might not know what choices to make. Maybe that’s why you have no idea what you want to do with your life.
There’s also the fear of failure. What if I mess up? You might be afraid of the effects of your actions. So much so that you’re immobilized by anxiety.
Where are you now? Maybe you feel stuck. However, let me make one thing clear: you can get yourself unstuck. I’ll list down four concepts below that will hopefully comfort you during this time.
4 Key Things To Remember When You Feel Stuck
1. You’re not the only one going through this.
There will come several points in your life where you feel alone. Dealing with this solitude will help you come closer to finding your purpose. Maybe all your peers are getting married, and you’re not even dating. Perhaps you’ve been stuck in an unsatisfying dead-end job for years. Perhaps you’ve made no moves, and everyone else is progressing.
You are not alone.
Everyone who seems to be doing better than you also have their own set of doubts and problems. Trust me, a lot of other people are thinking the same thing: I don’t know what I want to do with my life.
If you won’t take it from me, let’s look at the lives of successful people who are admired the world over.
First, there’s Oprah. She first worked on television as a reporter, and she said it felt unnatural to her. Because she was unhappy, she started thinking about what she really wanted to do, and she couldn’t figure it out.
Here’s what we can learn:
According to Oprah, knowing what you don’t want to do is just as helpful in this situation. She eventually got demoted and assigned to a talk show. We now know her as one of the best interviewers.
Barbara Walters, a respected broadcaster, says that you shouldn’t worry if you feel like you’re going nowhere. She didn’t know what to do after graduating college. She didn’t know what to do after graduating from business school, either.
Michael Bloomberg says he’s not the best planner. All his life, he’s been indecisive. Now, he has an estimated net worth of $59 billion.
There’s Alan Rickman, the wonderful man who played Professor Snape and Hans Gruber. He said that some people are sure about what they want to at an early age, but they don’t end up becoming what they initially wanted to be. He suggests living life with a more experimental attitude.
As you can see, not knowing what to do is a pretty universal feeling. Those who are ahead can look back in their lives and confirm that most of us will have to confront this feeling, especially in our younger years.
2. Not knowing what you want to do isn’t a bad thing.
If you don’t know what to do with your life, you probably have the tendency also to feel guilty or ashamed. You may think that you’re not living up to the expectations of your family or that your peers are way ahead of you. Do you know where most of this pressure is coming from? You.
Remember, you’re not behind or ahead of anyone. Why? Because you’re on a different path from everybody else. You’re unique, and no one else is going to have your life experiences or be born in the exact same circumstances.
So you’re on your path, and everyone else is on theirs. Their paths will have speed bumps, too, just like yours. No journey is painless.
Another way you might feel is powerless. Since you don’t have a life plan, you feel like you’re floating. You’re unsure how your life will pan out, and you feel unprepared for what might come your way.
Sure, you hear all the time that you have the power to change your life. The question is: HOW? Right now, it feels dang near impossible to figure out how you can do that. There’s also the matter of feeling like there’s so much to do and you don’t know where to start.
Here’s a secret: power doesn’t always come from what you’ve already accomplished. Power also comes from believing in your capabilities. In other words, you need a healthy dose of confidence.
Lastly, you might be feeling overwhelmed. Such a profound question like “What am I supposed to do with my life?” could stump even the most well-adjusted person. Your life is all you’ve ever known, so when you feel like you’re not living as you should, it’s overwhelming.
All these feelings that you might have can leave you paralyzed. It’s hard to imagine being able to tackle all these emotions all at once. But here’s a bit of perspective for you: How are you supposed to climb a mountain when you’re only focused at the peak?
Sure, keeping your eye on your desired destination can be motivating. However, every step that you have to take to get there deserves as much attention. Every action, no matter how small, is getting you nearer to your goal. One misstep, and you could stumble and fall.
Honestly, you don’t really have to know what you want to do with your life. Some people know, and some simply don’t. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those who know their purpose get to lead more fulfilling lives.
You can assign meaning to your life as you tackle it. You don’t have to make it up on the fly when you’re young and have no clue.
3. You will feel stuck several times in your life, and this is not a bad thing.
Life is essentially a series of choices. Do you tell your partner what’s been bothering you, or do you just let it slide? Do you have another slice of cake? Do you ask for a promotion or wait for it to be given to you? Do you take your first guitar lesson today or next year?
With so many choices that we have to make throughout our lives, isn’t it only natural that you don’t make the right one every single time? You might not even know what choices you have at any given moment. In business, made tons of wrong choices. And I probably have close to a dozen projects happening at any given time. I let the failures fall to the wayside and keep pushing forward with the winners.
How you think right now is probably not how you’re going to think ten years from now. In ten years, you would probably feel this uncertainty again. You’ll find yourself asking the same question, what am I supposed to do with my life?
That’s totally normal! Every time you hit this speed bump, you’re given an opportunity to reassess your life and perhaps change the course of it.
You have the gift of freedom, of choice. You’re allowed not to know what you want to do and figure it out at your own pace.
Now, ask yourself some very important questions. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of life do you want to lead? What actions should you do to lead that life?
Many people have difficulty answering these questions because they feel like they should be set in their ways. In reality, your personality, ideas, beliefs, and values may change as you gain more experiences. Who you are is fluid. That’s why it’s healthy to have to check in with yourself every once in a while and look at how your life is going. Remain true to yourself at this very moment, and don’t worry about past you or future you.
4. You are many things.
We tend to admire folks who have found their “calling.” They claim to be excited to get out of bed every morning, with a clear focus on what they have to do that day. They’re passionate about this one thing that they do, and they say they can pursue it as long as they live.
I’m not hating on these people. Their lives seem enviable to most, and they must be happy and fulfilled. However, not knowing your “calling” doesn’t make you any less than. Just because you can’t focus on being one thing doesn’t mean you’re less of a person.
You are not just one thing. You could be a good son/daughter, a loving partner, a supportive parent, a talented gardener, or a skilled cook. You might be the life of the party, a calming presence, a friend to the animals, or a voracious reader.
You have many facets, and you don’t have to be confined to one label. You also don’t have to figure out whether or not you have a “calling.” Right now, you can celebrate your strengths, acknowledge your weaknesses, and be grateful for what you have.
Related Reading: What should I do with my life? – Get Ideas Here
6 Questions For Figuring Out What To Do With Your Life
Okay, you’re willing to give this some thought. If you’d like to zero in on what it is that you could do with your life, I prepared a bunch of questions for you to answer below.
Think of this as a guide or a prompt to start the process. Take your time because some of these may be heavy hitters.
1. What do you love doing?
This question is deceptively simple. Whenever we do something we love, we don’t tend to think deeply about it. What we love comes naturally to us, so they don’t get a whole lot of attention.
When I figured out what I love doing the most, I realized that I’ve never asked how I can structure my life to accommodate more of that activity.
Journaling comes in handy at this stage. Write down everything you love doing, no matter how inconsequential the activity. Even if it’s something that you know you can’t make a career out of, write it down. Do you love doing your skincare routine? Write it down. Do you like watching Netflix shows? Write that down as well.
What’s the point of writing all these down? Well, the worst-case scenario is you’ll end up with a list of things to be grateful for. The best-case scenario is you’ll discover what you should focus on in life.
Be uninhibited! Even write down the things you think you might love if money wasn’t an issue or how others perceive you. Forget about where you’re at in life. Think of the stuff you’ll love if you have all the time in the world.
Is this getting a little too difficult? Think of it this way. Let’s say you watch a home movie starring your current self ten years from now. What would you want to see in that video?
Again, don’t limit yourself and imagine a life you’d absolutely love. Don’t be afraid to be fanciful. Why? Envisioning what you want is the first step in making it a reality.
If you think your list is too short, think of the things you wanted to do when you were a kid. Think of the people you admire and what you like about their lifestyles. Think of things that you’ve never done.
These could be stuff like signing up for a class, going hiking, traveling to a new country, being on stage, writing a book, or doing volunteer work.
Now, with everything you’ve written down so far, assess each one. Ask yourself, “Does this excite me, or does it seem like I’ll be bored of this quickly?”
Once you come up with a solid list of things that you love, move on to the next step.
2. Why do you love doing it?
Here is where the real work starts. For every item on your list, ask yourself why you love doing the said activity. Looking inward and evaluating each activity will uncover your values.
Let me give you an example. Maybe you wrote down that you want to write a book. Perhaps you’d like to do that to reach an audience and help them. Maybe you write down that you’d love to have your own company because you value collaboration.
Every “why?” that you ask can help you get to the bottom of what you value most in life. The most concrete answers to your why’s are things that will be able to occupy you for larger chunks in your life.
Let’s say you really like the idea of helping others. If you prioritize this ideal, you could ask what kinds of activities can make you feel worthwhile.
You should also consider the gravity of the answers to your why’s. If something is going to bring you fulfillment, ask yourself for how long. Will it be a short-term or long-term gain?
If you feel like your answers, don’t make sense with where you’re at right now, feel free to cross off the related activities on your list.
3. What other activities can support what I value?
By now, you should have the best answers to your why’s. Let’s take the first one. What other activities would also satisfy that answer?
For example, it turns out that what you value above all else is collaboration. Your big goal is to start your own company. Other activities that could support that desire could be working extra hard to maintain your long-term relationship, joining a choir, or working on an art project with friends.
Use everything that you have at your disposal, meaning your talents, friends, and resources. At this point, you should have enough stuff to do to banish the initial doubt and indecision that you felt.
When you have a nice list of activities, work and try them out. Give each activity a fair shot, meaning don’t give up right away if you feel some discomfort.
4. Are you willing to put in the work?
You still might not be doing so well. Maybe you still feel stuck, and the only difference now is you have a list of things that you love and stuff that you can do to explore them.
You might feel doubt slowly starting to creep back in. Sure, one of the things on your list could help you figure out what to do with your life, but it doesn’t feel like a guarantee. If so, what’s the point? Why should you even waste your time trying these activities out?
Now, my friend, you are thinking like a defeatist. In your mind, you’ve already failed when you haven’t even done anything yet.
Some action is necessary to see actual progress. Okay, not all ideas are worth acting on, I agree. So go through your list and check how much you’re willing to commit to each item. Ask yourself whether or not you’ll be able to consistently devote time and energy to those activities. Do you think it’s worth it?
Do you think you’ll be able to sustain your interest? Do you think you can get back up in times of minor failures? Will you prioritize it even when it seems like there are more pressing things to do?
If the answer to these questions is a resounding no, then cross that item off the list. Ideally, after this exercise, you should have 2-3 things left on your list. All the better if there’s more.
5. Are you willing to fail?
It will be easier if the struggle ends at being willing to put some work into what you love. Alas, that’s not very realistic. You also have to be willing to fail, to the point where you accept its specific likelihood.
I hate to break it to you, but failure is a part of it – it’s gonna happen!
Let’s say you want to be a musician because you love to entertain people and have them relate to your experiences. You may be willing to practice your instruments every day and work on writing consistently. But are you willing to sound terrible?
Are you willing to take criticism? Are you ready to accept it if your songs don’t get many plays or no one comes to see you perform?
Naturally, failure discourages us from pursuing what we love, which shouldn’t be the case. If you genuinely love making music, not getting your desired outcomes shouldn’t deter you from keeping at it. What counts is that you still pick up that guitar and pluck away.
The fear of failure affects millions of people. That’s why unhappiness is so rampant. We try to avoid falling, so we remain complacent and uninspired.
So despite the failures that you might encounter, try to push through and pursue your love anyway. After all, learning from failure is what’s going to make you better. Give yourself a fighting chance for happiness and fulfillment by not being afraid.
No one can predict the future. The best we can do is roll with the punches as they come. Being able to pick yourself up after failure is an invaluable skill that we should all try to sharpen.
At some point, you may even learn how to embrace failure. In time, your perspective will change, and you’ll see failures as opportunities for growth. Instead of wallowing in your negative emotions, you could feel motivated to improve yourself.
Remember, you set your own standard, so set it high. You’d be surprised at what you’re capable of if you really apply yourself.
6. Can you make time?
Maybe the steps above were easy for you. Here’s the real kicker: can you make room for these activities in your life? Sure, most of us can dream up lofty goals, but do we have time to execute our plans?
If you found something that you love through this list, ask yourself, “How can I incorporate this into my life?”
Right now, you may have work, kids, school, friends, errands, etc. Most of us already have a lot on our plates. Can you make room for other things that you have to prioritize?
If you’re feeling unsure, think about it this way: you have so many things to do every day, and yet you still feel unfulfilled. Isn’t it worth it to pencil in a couple of more things to work towards your happiness?
Think about how you spent the last week. Write down everything you did if you can. Did you check your socials for half an hour before you got out of bed? Did you watch another episode when you only meant to watch one? Did you gossip with a friend?
It helps to be cognizant of how we spend our time. You might realize that you do a lot of things that aren’t worth your time at all. You can eliminate these activities and replace them with new ones that will make your days feel more productive.
If you find that you’re constantly doing something that’s making you unhappy, make the conscious decision to cut it out.
Speaking of things that you need to cut out from your life, consider everything that’s negative in your life. Maybe you’re in a relationship that makes you feel undervalued. Maybe your boss is a narcissist who always gives you a hard time. Perhaps you have an unsupportive parent.
Getting rid of negativity in our lives is an arduous process, but it’s always worth going through. Think of your time and energy as your two most precious resources. Be selective about where you’re going to spend these resources!
Only spend time doing things that you love and things that are absolutely necessary, like work. When you cut out all the negative stuff, you’ll find that you actually have a lot more time on your hands that you can fill with positivity.
8 Important Path-correcting Steps For The Willing
Now that you know what’s worth pursuing and you’re willing to commit and fail, it’s time to make some moves.
You may fall by the wayside from time to time, but the following path-correcting steps should get you back on track.
1. Believe in yourself.
I know, I know. This concept is often touted to children, and it sounds corny. However, there is a reason why we hear “believe in yourself” a lot. At this point, you’ve already done quite a bit of thinking. You answered some difficult questions, and you may have even formulated some plans.
So it’s normal to feel a bit out of your head. How do you help yourself along? You have to see it to believe it. A vision board would be a great tool here because it would be a physical manifestation of your dreams.
Whenever you lose your bearings, you can see your goals visualized so clearly on your board. Go ham on your vision board and include images, quotes, notes, and trinkets that will inspire you.
Next, you have to be convinced that you’re capable of achieving whatever it is that you set your mind to. For now, think of everything you’ve accomplished so far, even if it might seem insignificant to you. It should give you a little bit of confidence.
2. Study the lives of those you admire.
We have an infinite resource in the form of other people. We can learn and draw inspiration from those around us. It could be a friend or someone you just found online. You’d be surprised by how much other people’s habits, experiences, and failures can teach you.
You probably also find yourself in a situation where someone else has already gone on your path. Although it’s not going to be completely similar, forging your own way will be easier if you have some sort of reference.
3. Set the right goals.
How do you go about setting the right goals? Use this nifty acronym: S.M.A.R.T.
S stands for SPECIFIC.
Do away with broad goals. For example, don’t say that your goal is to be a musician. Be specific and layout the smaller goals that will help you become a musician. It would look something like this:
- Spend x hours a week for piano practice.
- Build a new playlist containing at least 50 songs that inspire me.
- Find the correct digital audio workstation.
- Buy a USB mic.
- Take classes in music theory.
As you can see, I broke down the broad goal into smaller clearer ones. Doing so will make your new endeavor less daunting.
M stands for MEASURABLE.
Take a look at the first goal I listed above. I made sure to indicate x amount of hours for the activity. By giving yourself goals that can be measured, whether in time or quantity, you can track your progress a lot easier.
Measurable can also be broken down. For example, let’s say you want to dedicate 10 hours a week to some activity. You can allocate those hours throughout the week and make your goal more manageable.
A stands for ATTAINABLE.
We’re all encouraged to dream big, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why only a few people actually make it big. When we set goals for ourselves, we have to make sure that they’re realistic. Right now, they may not look like much, but your goals will improve the more your progress.
R stands for RELEVANT.
You have to make sure that the goals you’ll set are aligned with your overall dream. This is just common sense. Even if the relevance of certain activities may be a bit of a reach, it’s still okay as long as you can connect them to the bigger picture.
T stands for TIME-BOUND.
Most of us dread deadlines, but some thrive on them. Allotting time for activities is essential because we don’t want to pursue our goals indefinitely. Not being able to attain goals within our time limit is also an excellent indication of our motivation.
Let’s say you give yourself a 6-month deadline for a draft of your book. If you don’t make the deadline, don’t beat yourself up about it. Assess why you didn’t make it in time and make the necessary adjustments if your heart is still in.
4. Enforce better habits.
It’s hard to change things up when we’re set in our ways, but it’s beneficial to enforce better habits to improve your life in general. The practices that I’m talking about shouldn’t be too disruptive and should work towards the improvement of your physical and mental health.
First, I advise you to eat better. Think of your body as a machine. It’s not going to function correctly unless you feed it the right fuel. Choose nutrient-dense, wholesome foods and stay away from stuff that you know is bad for you.
Second, try to wake up early. Have you ever heard of the circadian rhythm? Your body is designed to repair itself at night. If you’re missing sleep, you’re actually lowering your immune system. Waking up early can be difficult at first, but many successful people make it a habit to wake up before everyone else.
They use this time to meditate and think about what has to be done for the day. Prime yourself for an early morning by keeping off your devices at night. Pamper yourself and make it a routine to prepare yourself for bed. Get high-quality coffee to fuel and treat yourself in the morning. Do whatever it takes to make your mornings pleasant because waking up earlier is going to be a pain at first.
Lastly, try to stay active. I know almost everyone lives pretty sedentary lives these days, but it’ll help you to get those endorphins going. Get up from your chair and stretch around every once in a while. If you can manage it, go for a walk or a swim. Being immersed in your work all the time isn’t good for your mental health.
5. Stay true to yourself.
At some point in your journey, someone will have something to say about how you’re doing. That’s okay; others will always have opinions. Don’t compromise who you are to please other people.
Instead of taking in what other people think, focus on what you find fulfilling and do you. Even if your goals are going against the grain, hold your head high and trust in your capabilities.
6. Embrace uncertainty.
If you followed everything I listed up to this point, you should have a roadmap to what direction you want your life to go. However, this map is likely to change. Accept the fact that you will have to modify your map several times throughout your life.
Maybe there will come a time when new priorities pop up. Perhaps you’ll realize that what’s important to you now might not be necessary to you five years from now. Nothing is certain in life, and that’s part of the beauty of it.
Always remember that there’s nothing wrong with course-correcting. It doesn’t make your past decisions any less valid. All we can do is make plans within our current circumstances and always look to improve them.
7. Reconnect with others.
All this inward thinking can make you feel isolated and a little unsettled. To balance things out, you have to shift your focus to other people every once in a while. Helping others is never selfless anyway.
Any kind of interaction can always be a learning moment. It’s also good for our soul to contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
Do what you can to make the lives of others around you easier. Donate to a charity, talk with a troubled friend, or simply greet your coworker in the morning. We’re all trying to make sense and meaning out of our lives, so it’s best to help each other out.
8. Be financially stable.
You need money. I wish someone had told me this sooner. Maybe some people did, and I just didn’t listen. When we’re young, we’re either encouraged to pursue our passions or choose something practical to do. We’re told that money will come, and it’s not the most crucial thing in life.
Honestly, money is the most important thing in life. It’s hard to hear, but it’s true. It buys you freedom and comfort.
Think about it. If you value your love life, wouldn’t you need to pay for dates, vacations, and a lovely home? If you value your children, how do you make sure they get the best education? If you value your health, how can you afford quality food and healthcare? If you value creativity, wouldn’t you need supplies and time to work on your art without worrying about money?
Financial flexibility lets you explore all the aspects of your life. Without enough money, you’ll be limited in your actions.
So before you get to your loftier goals, build up your savings. Invest as early as possible. Always make financial security one of your top priorities. Without it, you really can’t pursue anything else.
Related Reading: What is Manifestation – Read Here
Meaning Will Find You
We’re all scrambling to find meaning in our lives, but the wiser know that true meaning will dawn on you eventually. But you need to put in the work.
To summarize everything I elaborated on above, find what you love, make plans, take action, and stay positive.
I know that since you’re the kind of person who landed on this post, you’re going to do well. You will find meaning, and you will gain more wisdom. As someone who aspires to improve, you have good things coming to you. Just be patient and give yourself as many chances as you need.
As I said before, you’re likely to fail from time to time, like the rest of the people on this planet. You, however, have the power to get back up, learn from your mistakes, and keep making positive changes.