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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here

What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here

“What am I doing with my life?” As a life coach and business consultant, I hear this question – or some version of it – all the time. Those asking the question are likely facing one of a couple scenarios.

One, you wake up one morning and find yourself in a job you hate, a relationship you don’t want to be in, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you had imagined. You might be feeling low, filled with frustration, shame, or regret. This is not where you wanted to be at this time in your life…it’s not the life you wanted to live.

Or maybe you don’t feel unhappy or lost, but you wake up and realize you want something more, new, or different. You may have accomplished many of the things you’d imagined for your life, and now you’re trying to figure out what to do next.

My job as a coach and consultant is to support my clients to be happier, more successful and fulfilled. To help them get from where they are to where they want to be, uncovering obstacles along the way. This usually involves working through a process and asking powerful questions so they can discover the answers to their biggest questions – including this one.

What’s Wrong With Your Life?

One of the very first things I share with my clients is this: you don’t have to figure out what you want to do with the entire rest of your life!

You don’t have to work out what you want to be when you “grow up” or discover your entire life’s purpose. You don’t have to commit to a career for the next 20 years. I see so many people paralyzed by thinking they must work everything out for the entire rest of their lives. Of course, they feel stressed and overwhelmed!

Instead, focus on identifying what’s next. At this age, in this stage, facing your current circumstances and ideas of personal development. I’m not saying this won’t be attached to a bigger vision, but that doesn’t mean you have to have the whole plan right now. I love MLK’s quote:

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step.”

The same is true for figuring out what you’re doing with your life.

How to Answer the Question – What Am I Doing with My Life?

Back to the question. Let’s look at a couple of my recent clients.

Sabine* was a smart, successful, vibrant woman. She already had several successful jobs during her career, traveled the world, had a family, and was settling back in a new city. While she originally called wanting to take her business to the next level, we soon realized that wasn’t what she really needed or wanted.

She was trying to figure out what she was doing with her life. For her, this meant realizing she had lost her sense of self. While no one would know from the outside, she was feeling overwhelmed, lost, and unsure of herself. She was doing all the “right” things for everyone around her, but she wasn’t doing all the right things for her.

Together, we were able to help Sabine:

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  • Get a clear picture of what she wanted for this next stage in her life.
  • Align her life and actions with her value and priorities.
  • Remember who she was and feel more like herself than she had in years.
  • Regain confidence and take action on things she had been avoiding.
  • Gain motivation, self-trust, and security in her decisions.

Then, there’s Max*. Incredibly smart, fun and motivated, Max had successfully climbed up through his career ladder and was happily married with his first child. Life was good.

He came to me because he was in the second scenario; Max was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. Even though he had a great job, he was looking for more – something new, different, challenging and interesting.

In our time together, Max was able to:

  • Identify his priorities and what was important in this next stage of life (and what wasn’t).
  • Pinpoint several new career options.
  • Uncover and work through old, limiting beliefs and thought patterns.
  • Start exploring potential new careers.

Here’s the process and the questions I walked through with Sabine and Max. Following these will help you make progress towards identifying what you’re doing with your life too:

Step 1: What Do You Want?

Whenever you’re asking “What am I doing with my life?”, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture, and identify what you want. Frankly, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get it?

This seems simple, yet it’s often quite hard to address. When I ask this question, people often tell me what they don’t want or what’s not working. They’ve gotten into the habit of making decisions based on what’s best for their career, friends and family, or others and forget to think about what they want for themselves[1].

Sabine originally thought she wanted to “take her business to the next level,” but when she dug deeper, she realized there was so much more. She ultimately found that she wanted to feel like herself again; to feel secure, trust and assert herself, and regain her sense of self.

Max wanted to love what he was doing. He wanted to be in a career (or role) that he was energized and “jazzed” about.

Your Turn:

What do you want? Get specific.

Is it a new career in which you feel excited and energized? A relationship where you feel honored and loved? To be confident and happy with yourself? To live in a particular place or to explore the world?

Maybe, like Sabine, when you think you have your answer, ask yourself, “what else?” and see what comes up.

Once you are clear on what you want, you can move to the next question.

Step 2: Who Are You?

Self-awareness and a little soul searching is critical for success – especially when you’re trying to figure out what you’re doing with your life.

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Understanding yourself at a deeper level and making decisions based upon those insights will ensure that whatever you choose to do next is something that will make you happier, more successful, and more fulfilled. It will make sure that your next step is a step in the right direction, not just another step.

While I take my clients through a series of many questions, here are a few of my favorites:

  • What is most important to you right now?
  • What are your core values? What are the beliefs, guiding principles, or ideas that are deeply important to you? Which ones are you off track with?
  • What are your passions? What gets you engaged, motivated, excited?
  • What are your skills and talents? Which would you like to use going forward?
  • What is your wish list? What do you want and need in your life/career/relationship? This might include the type of environment you thrive in, people you want to be surrounded by, or something you want in a role.
  • What is the impact or difference you want to make? How do you want to serve, contribute or add value?
  • What do you NOT want? While you don’t want to spend too much time in this space, it’s as important to be aware of what you don’t want as much as what you do!

In her soul searching, Sabine identified that she needed to find and surround herself with her “people,” uncovered what she needed to feel safe and secure, learned she needed to delegate more, and discovered that her direct approach was getting in her way.

Max realized what was most important to him at this stage of his life, identified the limiting beliefs that were getting in his way, learned to stop comparing himself to others, and realized how important it was to infuse humor and joy into his everyday life.

Your Turn:

Grab a journal. Ask yourself these questions and allow the time and space to discover the answers.

Write everything down. Then, review what you wrote and highlight or circle what stands out or resonates the most. These are what you want to pay attention to as you move forward and think about what you’re doing next with your life.

Then, with a little soul-searching under your belt, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step 3: What Are Your Options?

If you’re asking “What am I doing with my life?” you’re clearly not happy where you are. You know you want something else. But what is that “something”? This question allows you to explore your potential options.

At this point, it’s not about deciding the one thing or making the right choice; it’s about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the possibilities.

If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? If you’re feeling like you need change or an adventure, what could those possibly be?

Brainstorm ALL your options without worrying about whether they are possible or not (just yet). Make a list and keep asking yourself….what else? This allows you to dig deeper and see opportunities you might have otherwise not explored.

Your Turn

What are all of your possible options at this point in time? Don’t limit them if you can’t see how it’s possible, just get all your ideas out on paper.

Once you have your list of options, then you can move to the next step.

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Step 4: Which Options Are the Best Fit Right Now?

Okay, so you have your list of options and possibilities. Now it’s time to narrow it down and explore those options in a little more depth.

Once Max had a complete list of potential career options (including advancing in his current role), he narrowed the list down to the top most interesting and compelling opportunities. We then worked through each of those in greater depth.

A fantastic way to do this is to envision your life “as if” you were in that new role/situation/relationship.

Max imagined himself living the life in his new career options. First, he imagined himself as an REI employee. Yes, he had grown a beard and was drinking from a metal mug.

But the next question was even more important. I asked him how he felt. He said while he was excited to be outdoors more, he realized he wouldn’t be fulfilled in that role. He definitely didn’t feel “jazzed.”

We went through all his options, envisioning what life would be like in each role until he found the one in which he felt the most connected. We could both feel a shift in his energy immediately…he was on to something.

Your Turn

Go back to your options list and circle the 1-3 that you feel most connected to, energized by, or engaged with. You’ll want to make sure those options fit what you want (question 1) and who you are (question 2).

Once you have a short list, imagine your life as if you took that as your next step. What would you think, feel, hear, and see? Does it feel good? You can also do some research at this point to learn more about each of your options.

Then, armed with information and an idea of the next best option for you, it’s time to move on to the next question.

Step 5: What’s Stopping You?

This is a big one. As you explore your options, it’s likely you may come up against some barriers.

Perhaps you have fears or limiting beliefs of what you can or can’t do or what someone said you were capable of. Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem or confidence.

When these come up, it doesn’t mean the option is wrong; it just means you need to dig a bit further to find out what’s going on. It’s important to explore what’s getting in your way.

With Max, he was being held back by a deep, long-time belief that he wasn’t good enough – that he wasn’t capable of taking on a higher level, higher risk role. We worked together until he could move past this perception and on to his next step.

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Your Turn

Think about what’s getting in your way or stopping you from moving forward. Once again, don’t stop at your first answer. Ask yourself “what else?” until you identify what’s getting in your way.

Then, it’s time to move to the last question.

Step 6: What Can You Do to Move Forward?

You’ve narrowed down and explored your options, and now it’s time to take action to get past asking yourself “What am I doing with my life?” I know this part is hard.

What if it isn’t right? What if there is something else out there? What if it’s the worst decision I ever make?

These are all real and good questions, but not if they stop you from moving forward towards a more fulfilling life[2]. If you’re feeling hesitant about taking the next step, let me give you a different way to look at it.

If you’re unhappy where you are now, what is the bigger risk: staying where you are out of fear of doing the wrong thing OR moving forward and seeing where it leads you? It’s better to rock the boat than to die sinking in it, right?

Once you’ve decided, it’s time to act. What’s your first step? Take it.

Give yourself a deadline, a timeline, or a goal to make it happen so you can move from ideas to reality.

Your Turn

Make a decision about which option is best for you to move forward into the life you want. Then, take the first step towards that option. Then, the next and the next one after that.

Take a look at these 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck.

Final Thoughts

So, what are YOU doing with your life?

Just the sheer fact that you’re asking yourself what you’re doing with your life is a step in the right direction. A mentor of mine always said that 90% of solving a problem is awareness that it exists. You know you need to do something.

Now, if you’re serious about moving forward, it’s time to take the time and put in the effort and answer the questions above. Then, like Sabine and Max, be willing to take action, even if you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to play out.

It’s your life, and, yes, it can be everything you’ve imagined.

More About the Meaning of Life

Featured photo credit: Abigail Keenan via unsplash.com

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Tracy Kennedy

Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

Everyone goes through changes in their lives, whether it be aging, emotional maturing, retirement, parenthood, or entering or leaving a relationship. However, some of us seem to embrace chance better than others. When change happens, we may find ourselves wondering how to start over and make the best of the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

You’ve likely been in a situation where you felt that things just weren’t working out. Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you feel stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because you’re not even sure what change you need to make, or you’re afraid you don’t have time to start over in life.

You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, and the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more, or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path, and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow, you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to learn how to start over? 

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Meet Jack

At age 37, Jack is a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment, and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

Yet, when I asked him if he was happy with his work, he hesitated before answering. He said that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. However, he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition. 

The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads, and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job. These may be things you’re facing as well.

Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. It just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more meaning to his life.

You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, a lack of satisfaction, or a feeling of stagnation, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

How to Start Over When It Feels too Late

The good news is that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

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It’s not just about age or education. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

1. Gain a Fresh Perspective

To break free from our limitations, we’ve got to take a step back and gain a fresh perspective on just what limitations really are. On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over again. Limitations define the quality of your life. If you want to improve your life, then you must break free from the limitations that keep you in the same loop every day, month, and year.

It may seem that the limitations that you’re facing are out of your control or something that just happens to you. However, your reality is derived from your perception.

It’s not reality that’s important, but rather how you perceive your reality. Being able to control how you look at things is the key to learning how to start over and creating a fresh start. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything, from your motivation and outlook, to your self-esteem and confidence.

2. Identify the Challenges

Once you decide to shift your perspective and look at things in a new way, identify exactly what challenges you’ll face as you try to learn how to start over and reboot your life. If you want to change your job, what’s standing in your way? Is it a lack of education, a poor job market, or simply a lack of motivation?

If you have just ended a long-term relationship, what difficulties to you foresee in the near future? You may need to find a new living situation, reconnect with old friends, or get used to being alone again.

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Whatever the challenges are, note them down and write down at least three possible solutions. Once you see that each problem has an answer, you’ll begin to put your mind at ease and get comfortable with change.

3. Check in With Your Values and Priorities

If you’re determined to start over and change your life, make sure you’re pointing yourself in the right direction as you change. Identify your values and priorities and understand that they’ve likely changed over the years[1].

When you graduated college, your priority was likely finding a job and making money. Maybe now you’re more interested in developing good relationships with your kids or traveling the world. Be honest with yourself during this process in order to make the most the change you’re going to make.

You can learn to identify your personal values here.

4. Utilize the Breakthrough Framework

The breakthrough framework provides an overall paradigm shift to turn any limitation into an opportunity that is achievable.

By going through each of these four steps, you can transform your mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve your ultimate goals, and truly break free from your limitations.

Step 1: Find the Hidden Opportunity

It’s easy to see what’s standing in your way. Instead, look for any hidden opportunities that will come out of the change as you learn how to start over.

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Step 2: Plan Your Progression

Create a plan to achieve the change you want to make. Set a long-term goal, and then break it down into smaller short-term goals that you can work on over the next few months or years.

Step 3: Invest and Prioritize

Invest your time and energy into making your plan and goals a reality. Prioritize what you do with each moment and create deadlines to ensure that your plan goes smoothly.

Step 4: Tap Into Motivation and Good Habits

Even if you have a good plan, it won’t work unless you develop motivation and positive habits that will keep you on track. These habits can include goal setting, daily reflections, and perseverance.

Check out this video to learn more on tapping into your motivation to find your life’s purpose:

Final Thoughts

It’s possible to make life changes and learn how to start over. Don’t become a person who lets life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or far into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years while wasting the potential you still have.

Tired of being held back by your limitations? It’s time to break free from them, and start living out your best days.

More Tips on Starting Over

Featured photo credit: Jenna Anderson via unsplash.com

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