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Last Updated on February 4, 2021

I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck

I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck

“I don’t know what to do with my life!” If you find yourself saying this, you’re not alone. It’s common for people to get to a point where they feel stuck or directionless. It can result from poor decision making or an inability to make decisions at all. 

“It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.” -Oriah Mountain Dreamer

This state of not knowing what to do next applies to a lot of people, at any age and at different times in your life.

Whether we are graduating high school, choosing our career path, recovering from a heartbreak, being made redundant, or entering retirement, we all have a point in our lives where we may not know what to do next.

The answers or solutions we seek vary according to where we are at in our lives.

A young graduate will focus on answering this question in relation to their future and choosing the right career. A person starting retirement will ask the question in the hope of doing something that has value in their life. A young mother recently divorced will be asking this question in the hope that she can find an answer that will enable her to survive another day.

Personally, I have discovered that following these 5 steps will help you to find out what to do with your life, feel good, and get unstuck.

1. Get Moving and Clear Your Mind

“Not knowing what you want is a lot better than knowing exactly what you want but not being able to get it, at least you have hope.”

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I once faced a very challenging and emotional time; all I could do was think about what I needed to do to get to the next day.

There were no thoughts of what I wanted to do in the future nor were there any thoughts of how I wanted my life to be. It was just a matter of surviving from one day to the next.

For me, during this challenging time, when I was telling myself, “I don’t know what to do with my life,” exercise was the solution to helping me get through my day.

Every morning my alarm would go off at 6 am. I would have my running gear ready by the bed. I would get dressed, walk out the door, and start running for 45 minutes. 

For a long time, it was hard to get out of bed and go for my run because I just wanted to hide away. Over time, I began to look forward to my morning run as I felt more energized, and I was sleeping better.

What should I do with my life? Get moving!

    It may not be a morning run, but finding a way to get moving can help you clear your thoughts and improve your overall attitude[1]. Numerous studies[2] have found that exercise reduces symptoms of depression, which can create the space in your mind you need to think through your next steps in life.

    Whether it’s running in the morning, yoga in the afternoon, or cycling on the weekends, find what works for you and your lifestyle.

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    2. Wake Your Conscious Mind and Limit Choices

    “Nobody is going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you’re rich or poor, out of money or making it, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice…Self pity is a dead end road. You can make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.” -Cheryl Stryed.

    Life isn’t predictable, and the solutions we seek to answer our life questions don’t always come nicely wrapped. There are no rules to follow, and you have to work hard to define your life pathway when you don’t know what to do with your life.

    Waking our conscious minds to accept our reality and embrace change is one step toward finding out what we need to do next in our life.

    We become paralyzed rather than liberated by the power of choice. When we are presented with too many options, our brain doesn’t know what to do with it all. 

    Research has shown that there is a sweet spot when it comes to choices[3]. If we have too few, we feel limited. If we have too many, we feel overwhelmed. 

    How does this translate to your everyday life? If you’re changing career fields and aren’t sure what to switch over to, limit your options to five or six possible areas. Choose to mark one off the list every few days once you’ve sat with the choices a bit. As your brain focuses on fewer and fewer choices, it will become easier to see the direction you genuinely want to go in.

    3. Take Small Steps With a 30-Day Challenge

    In order to reprogram your conscious mind and stop saying “I don’t know what to do with my life,” set yourself a 30-day challenge.

    You may ask, why 30 days? Because this is how the small steps you take gradually become your powerful habits. (In fact, the power of these little habits are beyond your imagination! Here’s why.)

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    Setting a deadline has a powerful effect on motivation. Research has shown time and again that deadlines, even those that are self-imposed, can reduce procrastination and lead to better decision making[4]

    Try setting one to three goals to be achieved during your 30-day challenge. Maybe you want to learn to code. Set weekly goals related to free online courses, and by the end of the month you’ll have a good deal of knowledge under your belt.

    Or perhaps you want to spend more time with your kids. Make a goal to have one family night each week where you offer all of your attention to your kids. You can even let them help plan what you will do on that special night. 

    Achieving these goals after one month will give you the confidence and self belief to keep going. It also helps you avoid doing nothing while you’re feeling stuck. Once you know you can achieve one goal, you’ll go on to achieve more and more. 

    4. Seek the Wisdom of Others Who Have Been There

    “The more extensive a man’s knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do.” -Benjamin Disraeli

    Reading other people’s stories about how they lived their lives, their life philosophies, and how they overcame their challenges in life can be a good source of motivation and knowledge when you’re saying “I don’t know what to do with my life.”

    Their stories can inspire and motivate you, especially when you’re not sure of your next steps. Even better, find someone in your life who has been in a similar situation you now find yourself in. Ask how they got through it, the steps they took, and how they shifted their attitude. You don’t only have to learn from experience; you can also learn from others’ experiences. 

    Lifehack’s founder and CEO, Leon Ho, has experienced plenty of ups and downs in life and has come up with a framework that can help you get through your current challenges. He has everything written down in the book Full Life Essential Guide, get a copy of it to learn more!

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    5. Learn About Yourself

    “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt.

    Find out who you are, what your passions are, and what you want to do with your life. If you’re feeling stuck, it may simply be because you’ve lost touch with your most authentic self. If you’ve become detached from your own goals and dreams, it will be incredibly difficult to get back on track. 

    To move forward, you have to let go of your past and embrace change. With change comes reinvention. If you don’t know who you are and what you want, it makes it a lot harder to move forward in your life.

    Having a life plan and vision and knowing your purpose and how you want to live your life are the foundations to building your confidence, resilience, courage, and accountability.

    With a purpose and a vision, you won’t be paralyzed by the fear of not knowing what to do; you will seize it as an opportunity to experience life.

    If you’re not sure where to start, make a list of your priorities. From there, you can identify where you really want to put your energy and which areas of life can use your attention. To get started, you may want to take this free Life Assessment and get a custom report to find out what aspects of life need more of your attention now first. 

    Final Thoughts

    If you’re saying “I don’t know what to do with my life,” consider these strategies I have shared to improve your life in the long term. Maybe you discover you love writing or want to start a business. You can build from these things and create a life you love living. 

    It is a tough journey, but it is also rewarding, as you will discover your life purpose and find your passion. You will know what you need to do in your life and the actions you need to take to get there!

    More Tips to Help You Get on Track

    Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Kathryn Sandford

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

    7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life 5 Ways To Let Go of Anger And Restore Calmness in Mind

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    Last Updated on March 2, 2021

    7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

    7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions

    Most people don’t know the profound effects of making life decisions. Often times, we go through life oblivious to what thoughts we are thinking and what actions we are taking. Every single decision we make in our days shapes our current reality. It shapes who we are as a person because we habitually follow through with the decisions we make without even realizing it.

    If you’re unhappy with the results in your life right now, making the effort to changing your decisions starting today will be the key to creating the person you want to be and the life you want to have in the future.

    If you want to get unstuck from where you are, make use of the 3-Step Guide To Break Free And Design the Life You Want. It’s a free guide that will guide you to break free from your limits and redesign a life that you truly want. You can grab your free guide here.

    Now, let’s talk about the 7 ways you can go about making life changing decisions.

    1. Realize the Power of Decision Making

    Before you start making a decision, you have to understand what a decision does.

    Any decision that you make causes a chain of events to happen. When you decide to pick up a cigarette to smoke it, that decision might result in you picking up another one later on to get that same high feeling. After a day, you may have gone through a pack without knowing it. But if you decide not to smoke that first cigarette and make a decision every five minutes to focus your attention somewhere else when you get that craving, after doing this for a week, your cravings will eventually subside and you will become smoke-free.

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    But it comes down to making that very first decision of deciding whether or not to pick up that cigarette.

    2. Go with Your Gut

    Often times, we take too much time to make a decision because we’re afraid of what’s going to happen. As a result of this, we go through things like careful planning, deep analysis, and pros and cons before deciding. This is a very time consuming process.

    Instead, learn to trust your gut instinct. For the most part, your first instinct is usually the one that is correct or the one that you truly wanted to go with.

    Even if you end up making a mistake, going with your gut still makes you a more confident decision maker compared to someone who takes all day to decide.

    3. Carry Your Decision Out

    When you make a decision, act on it. Commit to making a real decision.

    What’s a real decision? It’s when you decide on something, and that decision is carried out through action. It’s pointless to make a decision and have it played out in your head, but not doing anything about it. That’s the same as not making a decision at all.

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    If you want to make real changes in life, you have to make it a habit to apply action with your decision until it’s completed. By going through this so many times, you will feel more confident with accomplishing the next decision that you have in mind.

    4. Tell Others About Your Decisions

    There’s something about telling other people what we’re going to do that makes us follow through.

    For example, for the longest time, I’ve been trying to become an early riser. Whenever I tried to use my own willpower, waking up early without falling back asleep felt impossible. So what I did was I went to a forum and made the decision to tell people that I would wake up at 6 AM and stay up. Within two days, I was able to accomplish doing this because I felt a moral obligation to follow through with my words even though I failed the first time.

    Did people care? Probably not, but just the fact that there might be someone else out there seeing if you’re telling the truth will give you enough motivation to following through with your decision.

    5. Learn from Your Past Decisions

    Even after I failed to follow through my decision the first time when I told people I was going to wake up early and stay up, I didn’t give up. I basically asked myself, “What can I do this time to make it work tomorrow?”

    The truth is, you are going to mess up at times when it comes to making decisions. Instead of beating yourself up over it, learn something from it.

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    Ask yourself, what was good about the decision I made? What was bad about it? What can I learn from it so I can make a better decision next time?

    Remember, don’t put so much emphasis focusing on short term effects; instead focus on the long term effects.

    6. Maintain a Flexible Approach

    I know this might sound counter-intuitive, but making a decision doesn’t mean that you can’t be open to other options.

    For example, let’s say you made the decision to lose ten pounds by next month through cardio. If something comes up, you don’t have to just do cardio. You can be open to losing weight through different methods of dieting as long as it helps you reach your goal in the end.

    Don’t be stubborn to seek out only one way of making a decision. Embrace any new knowledge that brings you closer to accomplishing your initial decision.

    7. Have Fun Making Decisions

    Finally, enjoy the process. I know decision-making might not be the most fun thing world to do, but when you do it often, it becomes a game of opportunity.

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    You’ll learn a lot about yourself on the way, you’ll feel and become a lot more confident when you’re with yourself and around others, and making decisions will just become a lot easier after you do it so often that you won’t even think about it.

    Anything you decide to do from this point on can have a profound effect later on. Opportunities are always waiting for you. Examine the decisions that you currently have in the day.

    Are there any that can be changed to improve your life in some way? Are there any decisions that you can make today that can create a better tomorrow?

    Final Thoughts

    Some decisions in life are harder to make, but with these 7 pieces of advice, you can trust yourself more even when you’re making some of the most important decisions.

    Making a decision is the only way to move forward. So remember, any decision is better than none at all.

    More Tips for Making Better Decisions

    Featured photo credit: Justin Luebke via unsplash.com

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