If you have ever said, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life,” you are not alone. Almost everyone has been at a crossroads in their life, trying to figure out what to do next. This could happen at any stage in your life (especially when you are in your twenties), whenever you find the future to be uncertain.
While it might not feel like it to you right now, doubt over what to do with your life is a good thing. There are too many twists and turns, and you should embrace them while keeping in mind that you should always find time to do things you enjoy.
You want purposeful, well-paid work. You want hobbies and community work that make you feel part of something bigger than yourself. And you want strong bonds with friends and family.
Each time you ask yourself, “what should I do with my life?” you will feel overwhelmed by the number of things you need to figure out. You will wonder how to achieve certain goals, and why some people seem to know exactly where they are headed and how to get there.
Is it ok to not know what you want in life? Yes, it is totally fine. As a matter of fact, it is a crucial moment in your life. During such a period, you are able to reflect and set strategies on how to improve your state.
There are a few things you could realize to make your life better. The first is that you can never plan your whole future. Life is too unpredictable for you to be ready for every single challenge that will come your way.
The second thing you must know is that those people who have it all figured out are not different from you. They probably felt confused and overwhelmed many times, just like you do now. The only thing they did that you have not done yet is to work out what they want and how to get it.
The good news is that having a sense of purpose is achievable by everyone. This article has proactive steps that everyone can take to live a purpose-filled life. Here's what you should do the next time you find yourself wondering, “what do I want to do with my life?”
What is the point of life? 11 questions you must answer
If you are feeling stuck or scared because you do not know your purpose, you will need to examine yourself through a very critical lens. Life is more about discovery, and this discovery process starts with asking questions.
These questions will help you to explore the times when you were fulfilled, excited, and inspired. Identifying these moments will trigger emotions that guide you to find your talents and values. Consequently, you will be able to get the answer to the question "what is my life's purpose?"
- What did you love to do as a child?
- Where does your mind drift to when you daydream?
- Where and when do you feel the happiest?
- When do you feel like your best self?
- What do you value most in other people and yourself?
- What inspiration, idea, or vision keeps coming to you?
- Who inspires you with their passion and purpose?
- If you could do anything in the world without worrying about time, money, or energy restrictions, what would you do?
- What is not working in your life?
- What do you do effortlessly?
- What would your future self say to the present you?
Once you start examining yourself through the lens of these questions, you will be better able to see what’s important to you, what drives you, and get an answer for each time you ask yourself, “what am I doing with my life?”
I don’t know what I want to do with my life – 10 steps that will help you figure it out
Confronting the realization of "I don’t know what to do with my life" can be overwhelming. However, you should not let the fear win. Follow these 10 steps to find your purpose:
1. Cultivate a positive attitude
Certain emotions and behaviors that promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose. Awe, gratitude, and generosity are three emotions that you should cultivate in your life.
Studies have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves, and therefore, it can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. Once you feel like you are a part of something big, you will be driven to make a positive impact.
Gratitude is equally important; those who are constantly counting their blessings are driven to contribute to the greater good. When you see how others are making the world a better place, you will be motivated to do the same. You will be generous and get a sense of fulfillment.
2. Get rid of routine
The next time you ask yourself, “what do I do with my life,” make plans to travel and see the world. Any kind of travel that gets you away from your daily routine can help you to see where you should be going next.
You do not need a big budget or a load of spare time. It could be a two day trip to somewhere you have always wanted to go. It could even just be a day trip to the beach.
While you are away, do not force yourself to look for opportunities to find meaning or purpose. The value of travel is in the concept of a “pattern interrupt.” According to this theory, when you do the same thing over and over, you get too comfortable to know what you need to change.
3. Talk to people
Pick a few people you can reach and schedule a meeting. Without any expectations, go and interact with them. Find out what they are doing, how they do it but do not ask them for anything in return. Just have a normal conversation.
You would be surprised by what you can learn, just listening to others talk. If you listen keenly, you will learn about people’s motivations, hopes, dreams, and ambitions.
From this information, you will learn how others got to where they are today. You can choose to emulate them or pick a few bits and pieces to implement in your life. Either way, you will be a step closer to getting an answer for the next time you wonder, “what do I do with my life.”
4. Find like-minded people
If you are having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be?
What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? What do they need? Can you give it to them?
If the answers to those questions do not inspire you, then you might need to find a new community, and with that, a new purpose may come.
5. Dare to go big
One of the reasons people struggle to work out what to do with their lives is that they’re not willing to consider “big” options. It is easy to feel like big things are impossible to do or to come up with excuses.
Because of that, you will convince yourself to think about it another time and that maybe next year you will be able to do it. And then another year comes, and then another…and nothing has changed.
You should know that the people who have the happiest lives are those who have worked out how to stop putting off tough decisions and how to make a move when the time is right. If you are still thinking “what should I do?” then it is time to confront the big issues head-on.
6. Embrace discomfort
When you are out there pursuing your goals, you need to get out of your comfort zone. Learn how to make necessary adjustments.
Do not give up only because it seems too hard or does not let you get eight hours of sleep. Do not hesitate to move to new surroundings because you will have to leave your friends and family behind.
Stay focused on what you want to achieve and find a way of embracing the discomfort. In the end, your sacrifice will be worth it.
7. Get ready for failure
Sometimes, we stop doing the things we love because we do not want to fail. We fear failure because it makes us unhappy, and we do not want to be miserable. So, we stay as we are and live an unfulfilling life.
The truth is, worrying about not being good enough or failing at something can severely interfere with your ability to take risks. You need to realize that to succeed; you will probably fail along the way.
Do not hold yourself to others’ standards of success or failure. Set your standard. Set out into the unknown and take life as it comes, through the highs and lows.
8. Have a flexible plan
Getting ready for failure does not mean that you should throw all caution to the wind. In any venture, you must always have a backup that mitigates the risk of something going wrong.
After narrowing down your options and deciding what it is you want to do, have a sensible plan. Although you cannot predict all the challenges you will encounter, you can protect yourself from most of them.
Because life is so unpredictable, your plan should be flexible. One of the reasons that people sometimes struggle is that they feel that once they have a plan, they should not deviate from it. You will meet people and have experiences that change your outlook.
Always review your plan and think about whether it is in line with your new vision. That way, you will have an answer each time you ask yourself, “do I know what to do with my life?”
Physical exercise has been proven to improve emotional health. If you are struggling to find your purpose to the point where you are anxious and stressed, keeping fit is a step in the right direction.
Even minor goals could also give you a sense of purpose. Have an aim to wake up the next morning and go on a run.
The next day, purpose to get on the treadmill. If you do 50 push-ups the first day, set an aim to complete a 100 over the next few days.
Motivate yourself to be active and work on your body. You should also include a healthy diet in your routine. Avoid having junk food and unhealthy snacks which contain fats, but rather indulge in fruits and vegetables.
10. Enjoy the present
You cannot take over the future by constantly planning for it, but you can improve it greatly if you work on your present. Whenever you say to yourself, "I don’t know what to do right now,'' take some time to change your present.
Look back at your past and remember all the things you wished for. Look at your present and see whether you have any of those things. If you do, enjoy them. If you do not, start working towards them.
When worrying about the future, it is very easy to forget all the things you have worked hard to achieve. Always try to appreciate the moments in your life right now and enjoy them.
Everyone has said, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” at some point. This realization can cause a lot of anxiety and unhappiness. However, there are so many things you can do to realize your purpose in life. Improve your attitude, change your circle, and actively work towards your goals. In the end, you will figure out what you love doing.