Photo credit: Anton Glavas www.antonglavas.com
Wondering what to do with your life? Read on.
I’m not going to tell you, “It’s ok, you’ll figure it out one day,” or “where you are is exactly where you’re meant to be” or “trust the process.”
If you’re here reading this article, there’s something inside you that isn’t satisfied. There’s something scratching at you, urging you to do more, and to be more. I know that you know you’re not living up to your full potential.
The feeling of not knowing what to do with my life is very familiar. In fact, some might say dissatisfaction is my middle name.
I’ve never been one to just settle for what life hands me, or to follow the pack and feel ok with that.
I’m restless. Antsy. Future-focused. Searching. Deep-thinking.
I’ve always been bogged down by one question: What am I really here to do?
I tried Environmental Education… that wasn’t it.
I tried youth education... that wasn't it.
I tried life coaching... that wasn't it (although close).
I tested out Project Management… that wasn’t it.
I finally (finally!) after 15 years of working in various jobs, figured out what I wanted to do with my life: career coaching.
It’s no surprise that something I’ve struggled with so much myself (figuring out what I want to do with my life), is something I’m passionate about helping others with.
Want a BIG HINT on what to do with your life?
Look at what you struggle with most, overcome that struggle, then help others do the same.
It doesn’t have to be for your work, but I guarantee that will give a lot of meaning to your life—and meaning = fulfillment, contentment, and possibly even a longer life! (Thank you, Viktor Frankl!).
But, I digress.
This article is really all about showing you a step-by-step process for figuring out what to do with your life.
This is an outline of the process I take my clients through to get clarity, and you’re getting it here, now, for free (yay!).
My step-by-step process for getting clarity on what to do with your life
Step 1: Figure out your ideal lifestyle
How many hours do you want to be working? How much money do you want to be making? What kind of environment(s) do you want to spend your time in? What kind of people do you want to be around? Where do you want to be (i.e., what city, country)? What do you want to do for fun? What do you want to do for personal growth? What do you want to do for your health?
You get the idea! Write out what's ideal (but still believable) for you.
Step 2: Get clear on your values
Your values are basically what’s most important to you in your life. For example, mine are: freedom, new experiences, connection, and vibrancy. You choose how you define your values.
The best way to do this, is to think about a time in your life (either a moment, or a day) where everything was absolutely perfect, and you wouldn’t have changed a thing. Write out the experience and what you loved about it. Then ask yourself, what are the values you’re hearing in there?
For example, if the experience that comes to mind for you is hiking by yourself in Thailand, some of the values might be: independence, travel, adventure, and freedom.
If you're really stuck on coming up with values, I recommend reviewing Max Neef's list of 9 fundamental human needs--what values come up for you as you read this list?
Once you have your list of values, rank them until you get it down to your top 3-5. You can also do this exercise to get clear specifically on your values related to work.
Step 3: Get to know your strengths
Your strengths are what you are naturally good at. You might not realize you have a particular strength, because it has always come easily to you, and you just assume it comes easily to everyone else too.
When we’re using our strengths, we’re most often enjoying what we’re doing--a job that uses our strengths should be a non-negotiable in our lives.
To help you get clear on your unique strengths, I wrote a separate article on how to figure out your strengths.
Step 4: Determine your skills
Your skills are different from your strengths because you learn them over time—you aren’t born with any skills.
Write out 3 lists when it comes to your skills: your soft skills (i.e., skills you can't measure, such as “communication” or “leadership”), your hard skills (i.e., measurable skills such as Google Analytics, or SalesForce), and your desired skills (either hard or soft).
Go through every past job you’ve had, projects you've worked on, volunteer positions, or extra-curricular experience, and write out the skills you gained from those things. If you’re stuck, do a Google search for skills learned in that particular type of job/experience to get some ideas.
Step 5: Know your purpose
I believe we all have an inner purpose, and an outer purpose. (Just like Eckhart Tolle.)
Our inner purpose is just focused on us—it might be something like “to grow” or “to serve.” It’s something we feel we’re meant to do regardless of the outcome.
Mine is "to bring out the potential in others."
Our outer purpose is all about the impact that we want to make. For figuring out what to do with your life (not how you want to be in your life), we’ll just focus on this outer purpose and take a look at the impact you want to make in your lifetime.
Great questions to start getting clear on your outer purpose are:
Then dig deeper on your answers to these questions by continually asking, “why?”.
For example, if you get heated up at the family dinner table about climate change, ask why climate change gets you worked up. If you answer that it’s because there’s clear science on the issue and it shouldn’t even be debated, ask why having people agree on scientific consensus is important.
With every answer, keep digging with the question "why?" until you hit the core (you'll know when you get there).
Once you’ve gone through each of these 5 steps, you can mush everything together to brainstorm some solid ideas of what you should do with your life.
From there, find other people who are already doing the ideas you come up with, and talk to them! Research. Dig your paws in. Get dirty. Make it happen.
I also want to acknowledge that not everyone has the freedom to do what they choose in life, and live out their desires. I’ve really written this article for those of us who are lucky enough to have that choice—let’s not take our freedom to do what we want in life for granted.
I truly hope this article helps you find some clarity, and that you figure out what you want to do with your life!
P.S. - Know what you want to do, but too afraid to do it? If you find yourself procrastinating on making a move towards what you want, check out my article on Kicking Procrastination in the Butt.
P.P.S. - Want to try something fun to help you figure out what to do with your life? Check out What the Fuck Should I Do with My Life.
Photo credit for this article goes to Anton Glavas: www.antonglavas.com
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.