I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life? 31 Of The Best Ways To Find Out
Do you remember being asked as a child what you want to be when you grow up?
Did your answer to that question come to fruition?
I'm willing to bet it didn't, but you may be in the minority who did end up living out your dreams.
If not, you could still be wondering what you are going to do with your life, even as an adult. Even if you are gainfully employed in a respectable career, so many people have lost touch with who and what they want to be.
Many people blame the economy or money problems for their unhappiness, but the truth is, it is more about doing something you're not passionate about.
But how are you supposed to find your passion and purpose if you have no idea what it is?
What can you do with your life that would provide you with so much joy that the happiness overflows into all of the other areas of your life?
Once you find what you love to do, you will be motivated and have so much momentum that you will wake up each morning very happy to jump out of bed and start your day.
If you believe it's too late in life or you don't trust your own judgment, you may be holding yourself back from finding your true passion.
You have to commit to the process and have a positive attitude about finding what you love.
Take some assessment tests to find out where your strengths are and talk to other people who have jobs that fascinate you.
Consider what you end up doing in your free time and see if that could somehow be worked into a career.
Once you are able to find your passion, it will be easier to focus on the possible things that you could do with your life.
During this process, there are two important questions to ask yourself:
1. What Do I Want Out of Life?
Do you want happiness? Spirituality? Productivity? All of the above?
There are a lot of things that people want out of life, but to obtain those, you have to spend your time in a career or lifestyle that will give you those things in return.
For example, if you want to do meaningful work and you have a passion for helping other people, find a way to earn a living by being of service to others.
Take the time to prioritize what you want and understand why these are important to you. To help you do this, check out point #13 on finding your core values.
2. What is My Purpose in Life?
It is easy to suffer from inner turmoil if you don't know what your purpose is. If you are trying to discover your path, it is important to keep three things in mind:
- First, stop thinking about it. You have to actually do things. Get out there and try things to see if you like them. You can't just cross something off of your mental list without trying.
- Second, you have to figure out what inspires you and follow your heart.
- Third, you have to let go of the idea that you only have one purpose. The truth is, you may have multiple passions and purposes in life. Stop your quest to find the one thing and accept everything that speaks to you.
Let's talk about how you can uncover what you should do with your life so you can enjoy sustained happiness and pursue your authentic dreams.
I Don't Know What To Do With My Life? 31 Of The Best Ways To Find Out
1. Let go of your limiting thoughts.
Are you in a lot of debt for a degree that has put you into a career that you hate? Maybe you have hit midlife and figure you are too old to start over.
Don't let these limiting beliefs hold you down and become your excuses for not making a change.
Whatever fears and anxieties you are clutching on to (I am too old, I don't have time, I can't go back to school), acknowledge that they don't hold water. They are not insurmountable.
2. Address current problems before jumping ship.
Is there any way that you could love your job if just a few things were different?
Think about the things that are holding you back from being satisfied in your current position and make sure that these are not things that you can change before you decide to move on.
You don't want to find yourself facing the same problems in your next career that you are facing now.
Be sure that it's the nature of your job or some unchangeable aspect of it (like an unscrupulous boss who isn't leaving any time soon) that you want to leave, not something that can be corrected or that is an inevitable part of any job.
3. Remember that goals evolve.
Whatever you want to do with your life right now might change in five years.
It's okay to have several interests throughout your life and to change careers several times. As you grow and develop, your goals will evolve also.
Just be sure that your goals always honor your core values and your essential personality type.
4. Do things that scare you.
Chances are if you have stayed in a job you dislike for a long time, it's because you are comfortable and there is very little risk associated with staying put.
You have to be willing to take chances and face failure in order to live a life you are passionate about. Try to get more comfortable with discomfort, recognizing that any positive change requires some amount of risk.
5. Be willing to put the work in.
Chasing after your dreams might require going back to school to get another degree or working your way back up from the bottom of the professional food chain.
You have to be willing to put in the hard work to get what you ultimately want. But in the big picture of your life, this work is such a small amount of time compared to the life-long reward of living more passionately.
6. Determine the sacrifices you are willing to tolerate.
Everything you do will involve some sort of sacrifice. You have to know your limits in order to know what you want to do.
Are you willing to give up time with your family for a career? Are you willing to accept a lower salary? Define your limits before jumping into something.
7. Dig into your habits and interests.
Think about what you find yourself doing when you are not at work.
Do some trial and error exploration with some side projects to see what strikes a chord with you. Get curious about how the world works and take on some new hobbies or skills.
Only by experimenting and testing will you be able to determine what fulfills and inspires you.
8. What are your accomplishments so far?
Think about the things in your life that make you the proudest and that were fulfilling.
Then think about how you can emulate those experiences and use them for a career or avocation.
Brainstorm ways to leverage these previous accomplishments and skills into something that will work with your current career or lifestyle goals.
9. Consider your dreams if money wasn't an issue.
How would you choose to spend your time?
Answering this question can help you figure out what your true passion is. It can also help you set goals and create your path to happiness.
10. What do you not want to do?
A critical part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is figuring out what you don’t want to do.
What about your current job or lifestyle do you strongly dislike? What is making you feel frustrated, undervalued, unmotivated, or bored?
Make a list of these things so you can measure any future career or life change considerations against them to ensure you don't invite them back into your life.
11. Listen to other like-minded people.
Hang out with other people who are doing some of the things you want to be doing.
Ask them questions and invite them to talk about how they made decisions and took action to get to the place where they are now.
If you listen when others are talking, you can learn about their motivations, hopes, and ambitions. People enjoy talking about the things they love, and not only will you learn their methods, but also you'll be inspired by their enthusiasm and passion.
12. Enjoy the soul-searching process.
Don't wait until you decide on what you want to do with your life to enjoy life. The journey and the search can be as enjoyable as the discovery.
Don't approach the process as some chore you must get through to make it the other side but rather as an exciting adventure.
All of the twists and turns of self-discovery, trial and error, and exploration afford you with so many insights, personal growth, and confidence.
13. Get clear on your values.
Your values are the things that are the most important to you — your guiding principles.
For example, your values might include personal freedom, human connection, creativity, and family.
Once you write out your list of values, rank them top help determine your top five in your personal and your professional life.
What do you need to change to live in harmony with those values?
Getting clear on your core values can help you figure out these life priorities.
Related Post: The Ultimate List of 400 Values
14. Know your strengths.
Sometimes to know what your strengths are you have to ask the people who spend the most time with you or work closely with you.
Something you might take for granted or not view as a strength could be a quality that is highly valued by others.
Having emotional intelligence, leadership skills, analytical abilities, or just being a good listener may be qualities you're overlooking as you search for what you are meant to be doing with your life.
15. Know your skills.
Your skills are different from your strengths because they reflect the abilities you learned throughout your life.
Have you mastered any specific skills that you'd like to use in a career or hobby? Are there skillset areas in which you'd like to become more proficient?
You may have skills you've developed that you don't really enjoy. You don't have to use these skills if they don't provide joy or fulfillment.
Learn some new skills that you find interesting and that might translate into a good income if that's your goal.
16. Expand your range of possibilities.
Remember, you are looking for what you want to do with your life — not what your parents want you to do or what think you “should” do.
Look beyond the obvious choices or the occupations in which you have skill and experience.
It can feel daunting to consider starting over with something new no matter how intriguing it is, and we often dismiss our ideas or dreams before we fully investigate them.
But give your dreams the chance to flourish by exploring them fully and knowing what it might take to make them real.
There is a way to securely move from your old life to a new one without sacrificing your lifestyle too much.
Related Post: 25 Action Steps to Transition to Your Life Passion
17. Remember that you're not alone.
You are not the first, nor will you be the last person to want to make a change in your life.
Whether your change is mild or dramatic, you have to know that many people have made changes and ended up living much happier lives.
Many people have been late bloomers, finding their passions in their 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond. Read some inspiring stories
18. Don't let the search overwhelm you.
All too often people get stressed out when trying to figure out what they should do with their life.
The process then turns into a heavy burden that can deter you from finding your path. Relax, it will come to you if you keep searching.
19. Define your own success.
What does success look like to you? Is it all about money? Is it about prestige? Or do fulfillment and passion trump these?
You likely have been influenced by messages from other people about what success means, but your view of success doesn't have to conform.
Revisiting your core values can help you figure out your own definition of success.
20. Find a community that inspires you.
The people you spend the most time with, often your co-workers, become your second family. Do these people inspire and motivate you?
Do you respect them and enjoy being around them? If not, you need to surround yourself with different people.
This might require changing jobs or looking at a different career. But this change is a short-term discomfort compared to years spent around people who drain or frustrate you.
21. What do you wish you could tell other people you do?
When you meet new people, what do you wish you could say when asked what you do?
What answers have intrigued you in the past when other people answer this question?
Use these insights as guidance to figure out what you are meant to do with your life.
22. Think about what challenges you.
If you are not challenged in your life, you can become bored and complacent.
It's hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but challenging yourself to try something new, learn a new skill, or take the more difficult (but potentially rewarding) path is an excellent way to re-engage with life.
23. Stop doing what you're doing.
If you are trying to figure out what you should do with your life, then it's pretty clear that whatever you are doing now isn't working.
Instead of spending any more time doing what isn't working, make it your full-time job to find a better path for yourself.
If you can't afford to step back completely, try to cut back so you have room to focus on your search.
24. What will make you feel appreciated?
Everyone wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. Being acknowledged for our contributions is the sustenance all of us need to thrive.
If you don't feel appreciated now, what needs to change so you can get that need met? Where can you find the recognition and support you need to feel good about what you are doing?
25. Have patience during your search.
One misconception about discovering what you want to do with your life is that you'll have a sudden moment of clarity that will spell it out for you.
The truth is, the only way you can know for certain if you are choosing the right path is to start walking it.
Use the clues and knowledge you've gathered about yourself, your life goals, and your values to make the best decision you can.
Then you have to take action and try something. If you discover it's not right for you, you haven't wasted your time. You've learned more information about what does and doesn't work for you.
26. Get started.
The simple act of doing something, no matter how small it is, will get the momentum going and motivate you to take the next step and the next.
Start small, make one phone call, read one book about the subject that you might want to pursue, or sign up for a class.
27. Think about the people you admire.
Following the path of people you respect and admire can help you learn from them and emulate their best qualities.
You've heard that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so make sure that you are spending your time with like-minded people who reflect your values and goals.
28. Believe in yourself.
You have to honestly believe that you can do the things that you want to do. Know that you have what it takes to make the changes you need to make.
If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Once you are able to face your fears, you will see that they aren't so scary after all.
Even if you feel insecure, keep taking small actions to figure out what you are meant to do with your life. The more actions you take, the more confident you'll feel.
29. Develop your personal brand.
What do you have to offer other people? What are your strengths? Why would someone want to invest their time and money in you?
It is important to have answers to these questions at the front of your mind so you can articulate them when opportunities arise.
Rehearse your personal “sales pitch” so you're comfortable talking enthusiastically and confidently about how you can make a difference to a person or organization.
30. Save your money.
As you search for what you are meant to do in life, try to build up a savings account. Cut back on expenses or take on another part-time gig so you can put extra money aside.
You may need this savings to help you build a business, tide you over between jobs, go back to school, or make up for a salary cut if you start over with a new career.
Having extra money on hand gives you the security that if you make a change, you have a cushion during the transition time.
31. Don't give up.
It's hard to figure out what you should do with your life when you have no clue or when you feel stuck because of finances or life commitments.
But figuring this out is the most important endeavor you'll ever undertake. If you know you need a change but just give in to hopelessness or fear, you're settling for mediocrity, boredom, and unhappiness.
You may not find what you're looking for right away, but don't give up looking. Keep exploring, questioning, and trying out ideas.
It is perfectly normal if you are still asking yourself, “What should I do with my life?” You are certainly in good company, as most people ask this question several times during a lifetime.
The key is to start looking now before accept the status quo and waste any more time living a life that you don't love.
This is your one and only life, so take charge of your destiny so you can get the most out it.