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Last Updated on November 26, 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

Reference

More by this author

Tracy Kennedy

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

Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them) How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment How to Build Self Esteem (A Guide to Realize Your Hidden Power)

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Last Updated on January 20, 2021

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

How to Find Purpose in Life and Make Yourself a Better Person

Some mornings, you may feel that there’s something deeper you could be a part of. You feel the pull towards something, but you can’t exactly pin it down—it eludes you and frustrates you. You’re not really sure how to find purpose in life.

You might have heard stories from writers or musicians who have felt their calling their entire lives; the Mozarts of the world who have pursued their passions from the moment they were out of the womb. Deep down you wish you had this “knowing” to pull you forward.

Frankly, you do: all it takes is a little digging to uncover the truth.

Think of uncovering your passion like the work of a master sculptor, slowly chipping away the stone to reveal the masterpiece underneath. Your life’s purpose is this masterpiece, simply lurking beneath the surface, waiting to be released.

The fastest way to learn how to find purpose in life is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essence of who you are to pull out the pieces to assemble the purpose puzzle.

Think of your life’s purpose as a golden thread; for some, that thread comes in the form of a certain career or profession, while for others it looks like a way of being or expression.

Let’s use the analogy of an epic quest across the ocean to take you on your journey of finding purpose in life.

Why Do You Want This?

Ultimately you’re trying to improve your life and live with meaning. You want more zest, more flavor, more fullness. In the strictest sense, you want to become a better person. You want to wake up in the morning excited, jumping out of bed with a thirst for life that you haven’t felt since you were a child.

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Your purpose can be the driving force behind this. If you feel lost, your sense of purpose can be your connection to something larger, something that will allow you to truly make a difference[1].

Finding Purpose – Student Health & Counseling Center

    Still, your “why” might be different. Before we even leave solid ground, you need this as your anchor, just in case things get a little foggy. To find it, just answer this question:

    Why do you want to find your purpose in life?

    Write down or remember whatever comes up. It might be some of the above reasons, or it might be something entirely different. Whatever it is, hold it close.

    The Tools for Your Journey

    Before any great adventure, you want to make sure your tools and supplies are in working order. For this quest the tools are simple: You’ll need a pen and piece of paper, a working memory, and the drive to uncover what you set out to find.

    Before we go, there are a few things you’ll need to embrace beforehand. Think of these items as the underlying code of conduct for your journey.

    1. I welcome the hard work and tiresome effort it will take to unearth my life’s great work.
    2. I know my purpose might not be directly obvious, but I will put in the time to find it.
    3. I believe finding my purpose is entirely possible.
    4. I know that finding my life’s purpose may lead to some big (positive) changes.
    5. I know that finding my life’s purpose will leave me with the power to shape my own destiny.

    Once you’ve let the above affirmations settle, you’re ready to free your ship from the dock and set sail. Your tools are sharpened, and your mind is prepped: congratulations! You’ve come farther than most people ever do.

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    Slaying the Inner Dragons

    When you first set sail into uncharted waters, there will be an initial resistance, a pervading fear of the unknown[2].

    The first dragon you might face will likely be your internal beliefs. They might try to stop you in your tracks or tell you you’re crazy for trying to find your purpose in the first place. They might say harsh things, like “You don’t deserve to have a purpose” or “You’ll never find what you’re looking for.”

    To combat your inner dialogue, you have to first realize it’s happening. When you start to actually pay attention to the thoughts as they’re spiraling, they lose their power. They get their evil force by operating below the surface, so when you shine a spotlight of awareness upon them, they lose their control over you.

    Once you’re familiar with these inner dragons, it will be easier to slay them.

    Next, you have to swing your sword of action.

    Try this on for size: When you’ve come across a belief that is threatening to stop your journey, take a breath, look it square in the eye, and then act anyway.

    This will teach you to develop your courage muscle, and its heart-centered courage will give you something to lean on throughout your uncertain quest. This will ultimately improve your mental health overall.

    Questions for the Great Dig

    Now that you know why you’re doing this and how to overcome any hurdle, you’re ready for the turbulent seas. Your preparation is done, the shore is now out of sight. All that remains is you and the seas of your soul.

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    You can check out this TED Talk by Noeline Kirabo to learn about some questions that will help you discover your passion and purpose:

    Now, get ready to dive deep. Keep in mind that we’re going to analyze common threads in your life and the deep desires you currently have to give you a one-two punch when learning how to find purpose in life.

    Step 1: The Soul-Baring Questions

    • If you had all the money in the world, how would you spend your time?
    • What would your perfect day look like? Describe every detail.
    • What activities set your soul on fire?

    Don’t be afraid to dive deep with these questions, and write down whatever comes to mind.

    Make sure you create some space to ponder these questions. Nothing is too outlandish, so do your best to turn off your mental filter. The best answers will come when you can turn off your self-judgement.

    Once you have these answers in hand, we’re going to take a little stroll back into your memory to dig up some more answers and learn how to find purpose in life.

    When you’re a child, your life experience is more freeing, playful, and alive. Your whims direct your life, and you’re more plugged in to a deeper current. At this stage in your life, the outside world hasn’t shaped your dreams yet. You have direct access to your passions and purpose.

    We all had things we loved to do as kids but ended up giving them up for the sake of practicality. What we’re going to do here is take a stroll through your memory banks and try to gain some glimpses of this childhood wisdom.

    Step 2: Connect with Your Inner Child

    • What brought you immense joy as a kid?
    • What were you doing when you lost track of time?
    • What did your parents have to drag you away from?
    • What did you love deep down before the world told you to get practical?

    Once again, keep your mind in an open place. If you’re having trouble, it may help to look at a picture of yourself when you were younger, or grab an old stuffed animal or other item that sends you back into the memory banks.

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    Weaving Your Golden Thread

    Now that you’ve pulled yourself away from social media long enough to brave the epic seas, the other shoreline is in sight. The last stretch of the journey is to string all the bits of randomness together and find the common themes.

    Your job now is to take a hard look at all your answers and see if you can pull out any common ideas that are in both lists.

    Maybe you’ve wanted to be a writer since you were a child, and committing words to a page every day really sets your soul on fire. There’s a good chance that writing may be involved in your life’s purpose.

    Maybe you’ve always been fascinated by the stars and the cosmos, and you’ve always had a deep connection to spending time outdoors. You could combine this into an excursion where you lead groups of people into the wild to stargaze and contemplate their place in the universe.

    Let your creativity reign, and don’t fret if you can’t make a connection right away. Sometimes, it helps to sleep on it and let your subconscious work on the solution for you.

    If you’ve done the work, then you’re on your way to finding your life’s purpose. When it’s there, you’ll feel it deep down in your bones.

    More on How to Find Purpose in Life

    Featured photo credit: Burst via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Western Oregon University: Finding Purpose
    [2] Journal of Anxiety Disorders: Fear of the unknown: One fear to rule them all?

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