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Last Updated on October 30, 2018

What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps

“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!

    My advice? Focus on identifying what’s next. At this age, in this stage, facing your current circumstances. 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.”

    Such 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.

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    Together, we were able to help Sabine:

    • 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/ideas
    • 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 looking at what you’re doing with your 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, family or others… and forget to think about what they want for themselves.

      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?

      I have a strong belief and a lot of experience that 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 make sure 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 do you love? What interests you? 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 addition, I always have my clients take the Instinctive Drives™ questionnaire. It’ s a profiling tool that helps you understand what you need to be at your best. While it happens to be my personal favorite, I highly recommend any tool or resource that will help you gain personal insight.

      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?

      You’re not happy where you are. You know you want something else. But what is that “something”? This question allows you to explore what 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/option.

      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? Can you picture yourself there? 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 idea of the best next 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. This was holding him back. We worked together until he could move past this perception and on to his next step.

      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..

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      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. 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? Arrgghh!

      These are all real and good questions, but not if they stop you from moving forward towards a more fulfilling life. 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.

        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, 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 – to step forward into a more fulfilling future – even if you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to play out.

        Be brave. You’ve got this. It’s not too late. It’s your life, and, yes, it can be everything you’ve imagined.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        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.

        10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When You’re Feeling Extra Stuck What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here with These Steps How to Be More Confident (the Definitive Step-By-Step Guide) How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life Why Negative Emotions Aren’t That Bad (And How to Handle Them)

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        Last Updated on November 5, 2018

        8 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies

        8 Powerful Reasons to Love Your Enemies

        We’ve all got our enemies; people who take pleasure in causing us pain and misery. Sometimes, the development of an enemy is due to certain differences in your characters and events have led to that. Other times, some people end up hating you for apparently no reason at all.

        Regardless of how you got this enemy, as opposed to the paradigm of fighting fire with fire, consider the following reasons and see why you should actually appreciate your enemies. This article will show you not only how to not be bothered by your enemies, but how to actually foster love for them.

        Read on to learn the secret.

        1. It’s a practical lesson in anger management

        To be honest, your enemies are the best people to help you understand your sense of anger management. When it might be true that your enemies have a way of bringing out the worst in you as regards anger, it is also true that they can help you in your quest to have that anger managed. You can’t get truly angry at someone you love and it is only in that time when you get truly annoyed that you learn how to manage it.

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        Anger management is more effective when it is in practice and not in theory

        Your enemies are like the therapists who you need, but actually don’t want. Inasmuch as you might want to hate them, they provide you an opportunity to control the anger impulse that you have.

        2. It’s an opportunity for healthy competition

        You might not know it, but your enemies make for great rivals as they help harness the competitor in you (sometimes, you might not even know or bee conversant with this competitive side until you come across an adversary). You get the right motivation to compete and this can go a long way to spur you to victory.

        However, while doing so, it is also essential that you remember not to become a worse version of yourself while competing. Working against an adversary is tricky, and you need to ensure that you don’t cause harm to yourself or your morals in the process. Healthy competition is all you need to get out of this.

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        3. Their negative comments can help you make a breakthrough

        It is true that your enemies never really have much good to say about you. However, in as much as they might be talking out of a place of hate, there might be some truth to what they’re saying.

        To wit, whenever you hear something mean or nasty from an enemy, you might want to take a step back and evaluate yourself. There is a chance that what this enemy is saying is true and coming to face that fact is a major step in helping you to become a better person overall. This is another testament to the fact that enemies can be therapists in their own way.

        4. Enemies can also be powerful allies

        Loving your enemies can also mean making an effort to interact and make peace with them. In the end, if you are able to establish some common ground and patch things up, you’ll have succeeded in making another friend. And who doesn’t need friends?

        This can also help you in working with people in the long run. You get to hone your inter-personal skills, and that can be a big plus to your ledger.

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        5. It gives you the ability to realize positivity

        In a multitude of negativity, a speck of positivity always seems to find its way through.

        Sometimes, a knowledge of the fact that you have enemies will also help you to focus on the many positives and good things that are in your life. A lot of times, we neglect what really matters in life. This can be due to being overly concerned with the enemies we have.

        However, it is also possible for this acknowledgement to spur you to take a step back and appreciate the goo things (and people who surround you).

        6. There might just be a misunderstanding

        Sometimes, the reason why you have an enemy might be something very innocuous. You might not have known the cause of this fractured relationship and your enemy will help complete the picture.

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        Simply approaching them will help you to understand the reason for the fracture. This, in turn, can help you to work towards healing your relationship moving forward. Misunderstandings happen, and you need to be able to work around them.

        7. You learn to appreciate love as well

        A constant reminder of the fact that there are enemies will also help you not to take those who love you for granted. Love and hate are two opposing emotions and it is possible for one to momentarily overshadow the other.

        However, while you’ll always have enemies, there will also always be people who love you. These people need to be appreciated for what they do for you. Never let the hate projected to you from your enemies take the place of that.

        8. Do you really need the hate?

        The truth is that enemies bring only toxic emotions and generate bad reactions from you. If you’re truly to live a prosperous life, you can’t really be carrying all this baggage around.

        Hate is bad and you should try all you can to get rid of it. It is a well-known fact that nobody can get really far in life while carrying a lot of emotional baggage. Well, hate is the biggest form of emotional baggage there is.

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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