Do you find that the phrase “I don’t know what to do with my life” is a recurring theme in your internal dialogue?
Maybe you’re stuck in a dead-end job that doesn’t fulfill you, or maybe you’re just feeling completely lost in life with no sense of direction.
This is a difficult feeling to wrestle with. Because at the end of the day, all of us are seeking some sense of clarity and direction in life.
And when that long-term vision isn’t present, this leads to aimless wandering that makes the hole we’re in even deeper.
So if you’ve been experiencing this feeling more and more lately, then I hope this article helps you gain clarity on what you really want out of life.
12 Tips For When You Don’t Know What To Do With Your Life
Without further ado, let’s cover twelve different ways that you can finally remove the dreaded inner voice saying, “I don’t know what to do with my life.”
Some of these strategies evolve around planning and reflection, while others revolve around immersing yourself in new experiences and taking decisivfe action.
Both elements are required in order to find your way in life. So as you peruse through this article, pick out any strategies that seem useful based on your current situation.
#1: Step Back
When you don’t know what to do with your life, the first thing to do is take a step back and reflect on your life.
People feel their best when taking meaningful action. But if you’re struggling to define that vision, then it’s necessary to take a quick step back before trying to move forward.
Yes, at some point you’ll need to take action. But for right now, it’s totally fine to step back and get clear about the direction that you need to go.
Use this time to ask yourself important questions, analyze your past experiences, and imagine a future where you’re living your ideal life.
After enough reflection, you should emerge with a clear vision to set your sights on.
Later on, we’ll cover some specific strategies to help you define this vision. But for now, here’s a few questions to get you thinking about the right things.
- What are the areas of my life that are most in need of repair?
- Do I see myself doing what I’m doing now in five years?
- What situations am I running from on a daily and weekly basis?
- If money was no object, what would I be working on right now?
- If I had a magic wand and could fix one thing about my life, what would it be?
#2: Use Fear As A Guide
One of the best ways to overcome the “I don’t know what to do with my life” dilemma is to de-construct your fears.
Fear is often a good indicator of what you should be focusing on.
If you don’t have the life you want, it’s likely that fear is playing a role in the lack of progress you’re making.
- Maybe you want a bigger social circle, but are afraid of starting conversations and putting yourself out there.
- Maybe you want to build an online business, but you’re afraid of taking risks and enduring failure.
- Maybe you want to get back in the dating scene and find a partner, but you’re afraid of being hurt again.
Having these fears is a normal part of life. If the thing you’re about to do isn’t a little scary, it’s probably not a worthwhile thing to attempt.
So when it comes to finding your way, fear is a great starting point.
What are you running from on a daily basis? What actions are you afraid to take because you’re scared?
Usually, those fear-based questions lead to insights that spark significant personal growth. And once you combine those insights with action, you give birth to a part of yourself that you don’t know right now.
#3: Expose Yourself To New Situations
One of the most common reasons why people feel stuck in life is because they get comfortable in their routine.
Most people start each day with the same thoughts. Then they take the same route to work and socialize with the same people. When they get home from work, they watch the same shows, eat the same food, and engage in the same habits.
Most people’s lives don’t contain enough novelty. They’re simply not putting themselves in enough new situations, and that’s why they’re struggling to figure out who they really are.
I used to think that I was introverted. I’d routinely turn down social invitations simply because I believed that I preferred time to myself.
However, once I started stretching my social comfort zone, I realized that this was just a rationalization to hide the truth — I was afraid of being judged and rejected in social situations.
So if you don’t know what to do with your life right now, you might just not be exposing yourself to enough new things.
Here are a few ways to overcome this hurdle:
- Find new environments to throw yourself into daily.
- Throw yourself into challenging work that’s outside of your comfort zone.
- Take the path of most resistance more often.
- Consume new content and learn about different areas of interest.
- Follow your natural curiosities. Dive deeper into them by watching videos, reading books, and gaining real-world experience
You don’t find direction in life by sitting on the couch and wishing things were different. You find it by exposing yourself to new stimuli as often as possible.
As you do this repeatedly, your worldview begins to expand and your life starts to take on a new meaning.
#4: Action, Action, Action
If you’re struggling to find your way in life, then you need to develop a bias towards action.
Many people who find themselves asking “I don’t know what to do with my life,” simply haven’t taken enough action to uncover their true purpose.
With that said, taking action doesn’t mean that you should try everything under the sun. Instead, start with a simple question to guide your efforts:
What’s the best use of my time, energy, and focus over the next six months?
- Is it focusing on getting in better shape?
- Is it working on your social skills and charisma?
- Is it becoming more proficient in your current field?
- Is it spending more of your time working on a side hustle?
Only you can identify what the core focus of your life should be. And once you have that core focus, start engaging in daily habits that match this core focus.
Yes, it might feel uncomfortable or scary, but what’s the alternative? Sit around and wait for your life purpose to magically reveal itself?
When you consider what that looks like 6-12 months down the road, there’s really only one route forward.
Pick an area of your life that you’re going to focus on. Identify 1-2 daily habits that align with this core focus. Execute on them daily.
Through intentional action, you’ll learn things about yourself. You’ll learn what you like and dislike. You’ll learn what comes naturally to you, and what you suck at. You’ll learn what feels like work, and what you can work on for hours without stopping.
But all of those insights stem from a bias towards action. If you develop this bias, your vision will clear up, and you’ll start to understand what really sets you on fire.
#5: Play To Your Strengths
If you don’t know what to do with your life, then one way to make things easier is to focus on what you’re already good at.
Our strengths are like guiding stars in the complex universe of life. They guide us towards careers that allow us to showcase the unique talents and abilities we were born with.
So if you haven’t spent time reflecting on what you’re already good at, then that may provide clarity for your next move.
Here’s a few questions that will help you narrow things down:
- What have friends and family told you that you’re really good at?
- What are the things that you’ve always felt like you had a knack for?
- What career paths align with the personality traits you were born with?
- What do you feel like you can become one of the best in the world at?
As you take some time to reflect on these questions, you’ll probably notice some overlap and common themes. And usually, these are pretty good indicators of the types of things you should be focusing on.
#6: Play To Your Weaknesses
Just like playing to your strengths can help you find clarity, so can identifying weaknesses that you want to address. Speaking from personal experience, sometimes it’s more powerful to lean into your weaknesses as opposed to your strengths.
Leaning into my weaknesses is what made me start this blog.
Two and a half years ago, I started this site because I was fed up with my own inaction.
Just like many of you reading this, I had a burning desire to do great things with my life. However, there were a couple issues that I kept running into:
- I couldn’t focus intensely on anything for longer than 10 minutes.
- I couldn’t teach myself to take action even when I didn’t feel like it.
- I didn’t have much self-confidence and was riddled with insecurity.
In other words, I wasn’t exactly the video game character that you’d build if you were looking to win the game of life.
This is what prompted my interest in self-improvement. I started reading books, watching videos, implementing techniques, and eventually, writing blog posts about certain struggles that I was wrestling with.
Fast forward to today, and I’m definitely still a work in progress. However, I’ve made some pretty big strides in some of the key areas of my life.
And more importantly, I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life — help people become the best version of themselves.
So what’s the takeaway here? Well, the takeaway is that the world is full of people who find their calling by addressing their weaknesses and helping other people do the same.
That millionaire teaching you about money? They were probably broke and $50,000 in debt at some point in their life.
That social skills coach teaching you about charisma? At one point, they probably struggled with massive social anxiety.
That entrepreneur teaching you about how to start a business? They probably failed at five different businesses before becoming successful.
Sometimes, it’s your weaknesses that tell you exactly what you were meant to do with your life.
#7: Be Honest About What You Really Want
Feeling lost in life is a lonely feeling, but you know what feels even worse?
Traveling a path that doesn’t align with what you really want, and realizing too late in life that it was the wrong path.
Our dreams and desires often get entangled with societal expectations, success narratives, and the glamour of popular choices.
A common example of this is the rising trend of entrepreneurship. Fueled by the stories of overnight success and the allure of autonomy, many people now aspire to be business owners.
They picture themselves at the center of a thriving enterprise, escaping the 9-5 rat race, and being able to work from wherever they want.
However, those who get into entrepreneurship realize a few things very quickly:
- All the pressure is on you, and there’s no one to blame but yourself.
- The journey is lonely.
- Working your own hours can be a curse if you’re not self-disciplined.
- You have to struggle and fail a lot before anyone takes you seriously.
And once reality sets in, they begin to question whether they can handle the stress, discomfort, and pressure that comes with the path they’ve chosen.
As Gary Vaynerchuk famously says, “Some people are just meant to be #2’s and #3’s. And I’m pissed off that the narrative now is that you have to be the #1 and start your own company…because many people are gonna go down a path that isn’t really meant for them.”
This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurship either. People often take jobs for money over passion and end up regretting it. Some people work in a specific field because it’s what they think will make their parents happy.
So among all of these conflicting motivations, how do you unearth your true desires?
Well, it all starts with getting brutally honest with yourself.
Being honest about your ideal lifestyle, passions, and interests can pave the way to a more fulfilling life that’s aligned with your deepest values.
Are you super passionate about cooking? Good, then work long, stressful hours in a restaurant doing what you love.
Wanna become a writer? Good, then write a bunch of content without anybody noticing your work, and hone your skills until you’re too good to ignore.
Your definition of success is all that matters. It may not be the most profitable path, and it may not align with the societal definitions of success.
But as long as it resonates with your innermost desires, then pursue what you want unapologetically.
#8: Pinpoint The “Greenlights” In Your Life
When was the last time that you felt like you were on the right path? Even if right now you’re thinking “I don’t know what to do with my life,” I’m guessing that you haven’t been saying this forever.
At some point in your life, things were going well. You were pursuing the right goals and taking the right actions. You felt good about the path you were on and where it was leading you.
Matthew McConaughey refers to these periods as “Greenlights.” — moments in life where things are going our way and everything seems to be working out favorably.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t reflect on these times when we’re in the middle of them. And as a result, we miss key signals that indicate how we should be using our talents and abilities.
If you’re going to find your way again in life, then you need to start unpacking these “Greenlight” periods in your life:
- What areas of life were you focused on?
- What actions were you prioritizing on a daily basis?
- What decisions propelled you forward?
- What did your schedule look like?
- What long-term vision was pulling you forward?
By letting these Greenlight moments guide your path forward, you’ll start to uncover your own personal recipe for fulfillment.
But in order to find the ingredients, you’ve gotta start with self-reflection questions.
#9: Find A Mentor
Finding a mentor is another route available to you if you don’t know what to do with your life.
When you feel lost or uncertain about your path, a mentor can provide invaluable guidance, helping you navigate your way and find your unique purpose.
They offer a different perspective, sharing their insights and experiences to help you see potential possibilities and avenues that you might not have considered. They can also challenge your assumptions, broaden your thinking, and help you identify interests that align more clearly with the life you want.
In addition, mentors provide real-world, practical advice on how to turn your passions and interests into viable career paths. By sharing their successes and failures, they offer practical advice you can use to guide your decisions.
Perhaps most importantly, a mentor believes in your potential even when you don’t. This encouragement and support boosts your confidence, encouraging you to explore new paths and take bold risks.
And while a mentor may not be able to provide you with all the answers, they can certainly help guide you towards finding your own.
#10: Try Something For 30 Days
When your life purpose seems elusive, a 30 day challenge can be an empowering tool to spark discovery and growth.
I said it previously and I’ll say it again — if you don’t know what to do with your life, you probably haven’t taken enough action to uncover your purpose.
30 day challenges are a perfect way to jump into something new without fully committing to a certain path. They’re just long enough to generate meaningful progress, and just short enough for you to stay motivated.
Here’s a general framework for how you can structure your own 30 day challenge.
- Pick something that you’re going to work on for 30 days.
- You can pick anything that feels naturally interesting to you; starting a blog, trying a business idea, learning a new skill, etc.
- Commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of practice every day
- Once you cross the 30 day mark, reflect on how the challenge went.
- Decide whether or not you want to keep working on what you started.
There’s really no risk to this challenge for a number of reasons.
For one thing, your gut instinct is pretty smart. Within 2-3 of these challenges, you’ll probably land on something that you like or have a knack for.
If you’re routinely going past the minimum of 30 minutes per day, that’s a good sign you may have found something to pursue further.
Second, 30 days isn’t a very long time. If you spend 30 days trying to sell stuff on Etsy and you’re just not feeling it, you can just move on and pick something else.
Since only thirty days have passed, there’s no real loss to starting over.
And lastly, you’ll instill a sense of self-confidence. The sheer act of committing to something and putting in the reps every day is a foundational component to success.
A 30 day challenge allows you to instill the belief that you’re the type of person who shows up every day.
So if you’re constantly saying, “I don’t know what to do with my life,” then attempting a 30 day challenge isn’t a bad place to start.
#11: Accept The Burden Of Failure & Risk
If you’re gonna commit to the journey of discovering your life’s purpose, then you have to get comfortable taking risks and experiencing failure.
As J.K. Rowling once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
If you’re gonna fail, don’t become the person who fails by default. Don’t get so terrified of taking risks that you never realize your full potential.
Risk-taking, by nature, leads to failure. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone towards new experiences, new perspectives, and paths less traveled.
But even when taking risks leads to failure, these experiences still offer immense value. You equip yourself with wisdom that you can apply to future endeavors, while instilling the belief that you can handle failure.
So as you begin your quest for meaning, try to identify some small, calculated risks that you can start taking from this day forward.
- Apply to new jobs that you’re underqualified for.
- Dive into challenging tasks that stretch your comfort zone.
- Try learning new skills that you’ll probably suck at.
When you embrace the unknown, you’ll start to move into a life that resonates with your authentic self.
And once you start taking risks and experiencing failure, you’ll obtain the building blocks to figure out what you really want.
#12: Put Your Thoughts To Paper
Putting pen to paper is a simple act, yet transformative in its potential.
It can be particularly helpful when navigating the intricate journey of self-discovery:
- Tracking: By tracking your thoughts, feelings, and emotions over time, you start to identify patterns in how you feel while pursuing certain things.
- No Judgment: Journaling allows you to write down your raw, unfiltered thoughts about life without worrying about judgment from your peers.
- New Insights: By externalizing your internal world, you gain a new perspective on your situation that can lead to novel insights and solutions.
If you’re wrestling with the feeling, “I don’t know what to do with my life,” then here’s a simple writing exercise that will help you untangle this feeling.
Note: The following exercise is just a prompt, feel free to structure this however you’d like
First off, start by reflecting on when you’ve felt most alive. As outlined in the “Greenlights” section earlier, try to identify key periods where you felt like you were on the right track.
Next, envision your ideal life in as much detail as possible:
- What does your daily routine look like?
- Who are you with and where are you?
- What kind of impact are you making?
- What’s your financial situation?
Finally, analyze the action steps that move you closer to this life. Try to identify the critical daily habits that will make this vision a reality, and also consider reflecting on the bad habits that you need to drop.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you should have a good grasp on your ideal future and the steps required to get there.
All that’s left is for you to buckle down and take action.
4 Questions For When You Don’t Know What To Do In Life
One of the most important aspects of figuring out what to do with your life is to ask yourself the right questions.
So in addition to the tips outlined above, here’s a list of four powerful questions that can inform your next moves.
#1: What sets me on fire?
This poignant question nudges you towards the work that doesn’t really feel like work to you. It’s about understanding the thing that you can do every day even with minimal motivation pushing you forward.
Your answer to this question can identify the things that you’ll be able to stick with even when things get hard.
And by channeling your energy into these pursuits, you’ll find it much easier to make consistent progress.
#2: If I had a magic wand, what’s the one thing I’d change?
This is probably one of my favorite questions for finding direction in life, and it’s one that I ask myself on a monthly basis.
Usually, my answer to this question points to an inner demon that I need to conquer in order to move into the next phase of growth.
By giving yourself the power of a magic wand, you cut through the B.S. and identify what’s most deserving of your time, attention, and focus.
#3: Who do I look up to?
Reflecting on your role models offers valuable insights into the traits, achievements, or life paths that you want to emulate.
These figures embody your ideals and the potential you see in yourself. Understanding why certain people inspire you can highlight the values that resonate with the path you want to take.
#4: What will make the struggle worth it?
Envisioning a rewarding outcome amid struggle is another way to figure out what you really want.
Because no matter what you set your sights on in life, you’re gonna have to struggle in order to get it. The only question is whether you’re willing to embrace that struggle in service of a long-term vision.
This question helps you define a reward that makes the obstacles, hard work, and struggles worthwhile. It creates a vision that makes every challenge an investment in your fulfillment, as opposed to something you need to run from.
Not every goal is worth struggling for. So if you can identify the ones that you’re willing to put yourself through hell to achieve, now you have something worth fighting for.
If recently you’ve been saying to yourself, “I don’t know what to do with my life,” then I hope that you found this article helpful.
Not knowing what to do with your life is completely normal. It’s a bump in the road that everyone faces, even those who feel like they have a calling.
The good news is that this feeling doesn’t need to last forever. If you’re willing to embrace uncertainty and take bold action, then you’ll inevitably find your way in life.
As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you do tomorrow what you did today, you will get tomorrow what you got today.”
If you’re gonna move through this period of your life, you need to get out of the box that you’ve been in and get comfortable living outside of it.
The only way out is through.
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