I don’t know what I want to do with my life. This is probably one of the most frequent statements people come to coaching with. As one of my friends in Phoenix, Arizona, nicely put it: “I don’t have problems with goal execution; I have problems with setting my goals.” So you are living your life and have this uncomfortable feeling about a need for the further transition. Where to? What’s next? What do I really want to do with my life? We ask these questions when we finish school, make career changes, plan to have a family, in our mid-thirties, when we retire. It looks like we never stop asking them and come to it over and over again. I don’t know what I want to do with my life.  It is a painful statement that creates anxiety, uncertainty and self-doubt. Looks like many people around know what they want – you are the one who doesn’t, right?  🙂

In this post I would like to cover some of the do’s and don’ts approaching this important question.

Do:

  1. Spend more time with yourself. Retreats into the nature, meditation practices (more about it here) work for this purpose. It’s not about being lonely; it’s about spending more quality time alone and getting to know yourself better.
  2. Journal and genuinely answer the following questions. Keep this practice for about a month and reflect on them at least once a day. This practice is essential as most of us do not know our passions and how to fulfill them. Recent research showed that less than 20% of us know the exact answers to these questions. Good time to finally start finding your answers:
  • What do I absolutely love in life?
  • What makes me feel most alive?
  • What I loved most about today?
  • What made me feel energetic today?
  • What was I doing today when I lost track of time?
  • What prevents me from doing it more?
  1. Ask yourself projective questions like: what would I do if I had nothing to do? What would my perfect day look like? If I had enough money in my life, what would I do with it? Keep the answers in your journal.
  2. Analyze your expenses: what do you spend your money on? It can also give you some idea on what’s important for you and contribute to the values’ analysis that you already started through your journaling.
  3. Based on the answers in your journal (#2-4), look for the patterns and lay out several categories of real importance to you. They could be as simple as: beauty, friends, health, teaching, etc. Once you have these categories (basically they represent your personal values), keep working on identifying what you can do more to introduce these values into your life. It may be something you are already doing or never tried before. As an example: dedicate more time to my health, share my vision for style and design with my friends, start a blog, learn landscaping or teach kids.
  1. Ask your family members and dearest friends what you wanted to do in life and what you were excited about when you were younger. A lot of these dreams never came true, though they were genuine as, back then, we gave ourselves a chance to dream and be more than do.
  2. Create a “prototype”, in other words, design a safe environment to try out the ideas that you had in #5, like a new profession that you wanted to try or a business that you’ve been thinking about. Shadowing a person in this business, spending time with people in this profession is a huge investment and an eye opener.
  3. Keep yourself inspired: vision boards, watching interviews with people who represent these ideas for your future and from whom you can learn can be a fresh start. It is all about creating and sustaining an environment that motivates you to continue your new path.

Don’t:

  1. Stick to the external judgment that is always there and, unfortunately, often comes from the dearest friends and loved ones. The reason is simple: they don’t want us to change; this change is unknown and scary. What if a “new me” stops loving them? So your social circle will keep reminding you that your current life is just fine and you don’t need to change anything. Don’t rely upon these opinions: this is you who live your life in your body. If you feel you need a change, go for it.
  2. Take advice from your mentors unless you feel it is right for you. We all have so called reference figures: someone who is important for us and we care for their feedback. May be our bosses, ex-colleagues or successful college friends. That’s a great idea to ask them for a piece of advice when you are at a crossroads in your life, though don’t take their advice blindly. Thank them for it, though don’t follow what you feel is not organic for you. I made some career choices in my life relying on my mentors’ opinion though my body was manifesting that it is a wrong choice. Well, guess what: these were the worst career decisions ever.
  3. Postpone implementing your ideas for “better times.” They never come.
  4. Start with big steps. Big action plans are discouraging. It’s much better to start by making some baby steps that will reassure your first successes on your way to the new life path, rather than failures in implementing bigger changes. In other words, don’t plan to change the world tomorrow.
  5. Make just one choice. The choice. No sense in believing that a particular choice about your future would be the one and only trajectory of your life. Remember, life happens, you cannot program yourself for it. On average, people have two-three careers and much more life-changing events.

This is just a summary for those of you who feel like approaching courageously a statement “I don’t know what I want to do with my life.” We can work more profoundly on finding your true vocation or career planning. You can find more details here.

Questions? Drop me a message. I would be glad to get to help you.

Kindly,

Masha Sweitzer