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For Those Who Still Don’t Know What They’re Doing With Their Lives, Read This

For Those Who Still Don’t Know What They’re Doing With Their Lives, Read This

“Life was a bloody battlefield until I conquered the enemy and won the war. Now, life is a journey, and I am a warrior. Prepared for anything and weakened by nothing. There are hills and dales, mountains and plateaus, blind spots and brilliant vistas, but none of that matters. All that matters is my second chance, and the only thing capable of disrupting my path, is myself.”
B.G. Bowers,Death and Life

Firstly, thank you for being here and I hope by reading this article you may gain some insight and some strategies to help you solve the dilemma of feeling “lost and frustrated” with your life currently.I can’t promise you that I can give you the solution to the dilemma you face. However, by telling my story and sharing my experiences of feeling lost and frustrated and what I did about it, may help you to make a decision about how you can start to figure out what it is you want to do with your life.

Before I start telling you my story, I would like you, to give yourself a break and acknowledge to yourself that it is OK to feel lost, frustrated and confused about what you want to do with your life. Today, right now, reading this article is the start of your journey to figuring out what the heck it is that you want to do. I also want to say ( yes I am getting to my story very soon…) that it doesn’t matter what age you are 15, 25, 40 , 50, 60, 70, this feeling of being lost and not fulfilled in your life applies to all ages.

“You necessarily have to be lost, before you’re found.”
T. Scott McLeod,All That Is Unspoken

My Story

The first time I remember asking myself the question “what do I want to do with my life?” was when I was heading off to university, and the last time I asked myself that same question was December 1st 2013. I had just been made redundant for the third time in 18 months. Each of these redundancies felt horrible and I don’t care what anyone says it feels like you have been fired, rejected and you feel you are a failure. There was nothing I could do about it, I was not needed and that was it. I had financial commitments such as a mortgage, kids at university to pay for, credit card debt, very little savings, unfinished house that badly needs a new roof and the list goes on.

The Opportunity Created from Three Redundancies

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These three redundancies were the catalyst for me to start making some decisions about my life and what I wanted to do. I also had enough of handing over toother people the power to choose how I lived my life.I knew I had to make some changes because if I kept doing the same things i.e find another job, I would be again vulnerable to experiencing the same results. I had no more energy to get back on the band wagon and start applying for jobs. I am in my early 50’s and getting a job that I liked (not loved) was a bit like winning the Lottery.

Commitment and the Fear of Failure

I decided to make a commitment to take action because I had always known what I wanted to do but I had managed to findexcuses and reasons as to why I could not follow my dream.I then did something I had never done before, I sat down and considered the very high risk of failure if I was to follow my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.I then rationalized with myself what failure would look like for me by writing a For and Against List for Failure.Once I considered the list I realized that actually it would be okay if I failed as I have the control and I would be accountable for my own failure. Nobody else had control to decide what I could or could not do. Once I overcame my fear of failure I felt relieved and energized.

Managing the Risk of Failure

The other thing I did was look at all the things that I needed to put in place that would manage the financial disruption in my family’s life. What this meant was, I knew my husband would have to work longer and harder to make up the financial shortfall and for him to do this willingly I had to have a plan with a realistic time limit. This exercise provided me with the motivation to seek the help of 2 friends Matty & Menilik to create a12 month project plan to Reinvent Myself. We called this project plan “Kathryn’s 2014 Timeline for Success”.This plan is my journey of discovery toward living my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach. The 12 month plan has a short termvision, tasks and activities which I constantly refer to on the journey. Once I reach the end of my 12 month journey I will then consider what has worked, what hasn’t gone so well, what adjustments I need to make that will keep taking me toward my dream to be a writer, speaker and coach.

While I write this I am thinking this looks so simple and may be you are thinking the same thing too? It is simple but yet it is challenging and so hard to do!! Note to self…… “I have to keep reminding myself to hold back from over analyzing everything as it only complicates the process and makes the journey so much harder”

The Importance of a Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going,you’ll end up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra

Over the past 30 years plus I have had a number of some successful and some not successful attempts to define “what it was I really wanted to do with my life” but all these attempts really didn’t go anywhere – they were more like short bursts of activity where I got to do things I really enjoyed but then the opportunities to sustain the activity dried up. There are a number of reasons why this happened. Looking back on my life to when I first asked myself the question “what do I want to do with my life” I think that if I had learnt how to write my life vision even if it was for only three years (at 18 years old, three years was about as far in the future I could see then) I would have had some guidelines in place that MAY have helped me make more informed choices about the direction of my life. I am convinced that when you create a Life Vision Plan you set up the foundations for you to live a life where you have clarity and purpose about what you want to do. You can be at any age to write your Life Vision Plan and you can determine the activities and actions that you think will get you to your destination.

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Having being on this journey for six months now, I have three key learnings that I would like to share with you. These three key learnings have certainly helped me to get clarity and focus on what it is that I want to do in my life. By sharing these key learnings it may help you to address that “sense of loss and frustration” you have as a result of not knowing what it is you want to do in your life.

Three Key Learnings

1. Get very clear about your life purpose and then get a life vision plan.

“Having no plan “is like leaping off a precipice and trying to knit yourself a parachute on the way down.”

―Kelli Jae BaeliArmchair Detective

Get to know who you are, your strengths, your passions, what is important to you, your personality and what makes you happy because these are your guiding Life Principles – all the actions, tasks, activities that you set to achieve your life vision may change over time and may need adjustment however your Life Purpose doesn’t change because it describes who you are and your uniqueness in the world. If you are at university, or if you are in your midlife go find a way to determine what your Life Purpose is, because once you have done that then you can create your Life Vision Plan.

There is a technique to writing a Life Vision Plan called Visualization – which means you visualize the future of what you want and you write that vision as if you have achieved it. I used Ann Webb fromIdeal Life Visionto help me write my Life Vision and she was great. This solution may not be for you however go do your research and find a solution that you think will help you define your Life Purpose and your Life Vision Plan

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2. Embrace the challenge of personal change and the possibility of failurebecause if you do, your Resilience Flourishes

“Your gain strength,courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.You must do the thing you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt

My 12 month Reinvention Plan for me is my map that guides me on my journey – without it I would be still wandering around in a dilemma wondering what I should do and making some not so great choices about what I want to do with my life. My plan even though it is an essential part of this journey I still had to take a look at myself to recognise what changes I had to make in order for me to Commit to going on this journey. As I said earlier, when I personally acknowledged that there was possibility of failure and that failure was actually okayI then was in control of my actions and the fear of failure disappeared. I still get anxious and fearful but it doesn’t last for long and I keep going.

Then next thing I had to do was deal with my self limiting beliefs because they are dangerous and could distract me or excuse me from having to deal with difficult situations or challenges. I am a Deflection Queen and so I am very susceptible to listening to what my limiting self beliefs tell me – ‘this is too hard for you, you really don’t deserve to be successful, go get a job and be safe knowing you have money coming in to pay the bills, all your friends are successful and have made good career decisions – why haven’t you?, what do you really have to offer to the world?, how can you make a difference? – this list goes on and in fact while I am writing this I am starting to get very annoyed with this list! About two months into my journey I decided to deal with my Limiting Self Beliefs by naming them “Dirty Harry” and then I named my Empowered Self Beliefs “Angel” who I now have got to know really well and without her I wouldn’t be here today writing this article.

As a result of changing the way I think about myself and my fears around failure my resilience to dealing with the many challenges this journey entails is much stronger. To discover what you want to do with your life for some people it happens very quickly and for others like me it does takes awhile for what ever reason however personal change and failure are part of the package and so get on with it, embrace change, deal with fear of failure, get your resilience to a flourishing level and I guarantee you will know what you want to do with your life and what you need to do to get there.

3. Get your Support Groups in place and Celebrate your Success with them as this gives you the energy, the desire and motivation to keep going.

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“The problem is that most people focus on their failures rather than their successes.But the truth is that most people have many more successes than failures.”Jack Canfield

I love celebrations and my personality type loves being in the limelight. The key to celebrating your successes is having people to share your celebrations with. This is where having your support groups such as friends, family, colleagues, the barista at your local cafe, your kids, around you to join in your celebrations is essential. Your support groups provide the energy for you to keep going, they encourage you and are committed to your success – what ever it is that you decide to do. Your commitment to them is, that you need to share your life purpose and your life vision with them – let them know what it is you want to do with your life;

  • Why you want to do……. (Your Life Purpose)
  • What your plan is to get there ( Your Life Vision)
  • How you are going to implement (Your Action Plan)

Once your supporters are clear about what it is you want to do with your life and what you are doing about it, then they will promote you, celebrate with you and keep encouraging you to achieve your vision of what it is that you want to do with your life.

I don’t know exactly where I will be at on December 31, 2014 in regard to living my dream life however one thing I know, is that I gave it a go and in the words of Andrew Carnegie I have set my goal, I am going for it and that has certainly made me happy.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes”

Andrew Carnegie

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

7 Reasons Why You Keep Failing in What You Do 8 Ways to Change Your Self-Sabotaging Behaviors Why Is Life So Complicated For You? 5 Reasons Why 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life? 5 Steps to Get Unstuck

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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