In my 49th year, I started to unravel. I had no idea what I should do with my life.
Prior to that year, my destiny had been relatively clear. I knew I wanted to go to college, find a good job, and settle down to raise a family. I was driven by the primary goal of creating the happy, stable environment for my children that I didn't have growing up.
Once I graduated from college, I found a good job in public relations. I worked hard at it for 12 years, then stopped working full-time to focus on my family. But when my oldest child left home, the self-doubt and anxiety started to creep in. My role as a mom was winding down, I no longer felt inspired by my work in PR, and I had no idea what my next steps should be.
I also had very little confidence in myself and my abilities. Having focused on one career path and parenting for so long, I didn't believe I had any options, except maybe to go back to school -- but for what? To do what? I had no idea.
Whether you're 19 or 49, or any age for that matter, you will bump up against this question at some point: "What should I do with my life?"
There's nothing quite so daunting as asking yourself this question and only seeing a vast emptiness ahead of you. How on Earth do you know what to do when you have no idea where you're going?
When you feel this way, it's very tempting to distract yourself with trivialities. You might spend hours surfing the net, playing online games or lingering over Facebook. Maybe you shop away the time, tinker with projects, or watch sports on TV. You try to fill the emptiness with something, anything that doesn't force you to think about what you're not doing and what you're not achieving.
Eventually though, the emptiness rises to the surface, and you have to take action before you fall into complete despair. Maybe you're in a job that doesn't inspire you. Or you might be just starting out in the work force, but you have no idea what you want to do. Maybe you're about to become an empty nester or nearing retirement, and the years ahead look confusing and desolate. Regardless of your age or specific situation, you are standing at a crossroad without a sign to guide you.