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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

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. 

    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.

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    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 can check out this article

    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.

    How to Help Yourself When You’re in a Mental Funk How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way) I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life! 5 Steps to Get Unstuck 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever What It Really Means to Seize the Day

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    Last Updated on November 4, 2020

    15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

    15 Simple Ways To Make Self Improvement That Will Change Your Life

    Self-improvement doesn’t have to be big mind-blowing changes; it can actually be simple steps to improve upon what you already have to get you where you want to be.  However, what you will need is consistency, determination and wiliness to try some things that will stretch and challenge you.

    Rather than setting your sights way off into the future, which leaves you feeling like you’ll never make it, you can start following these simple and effective self-improvement steps today.  So if you want to make an immediate impact on your life and are willing to take action, then keep reading— you’ll going to love these!

    1. Be willing to work hard.

    As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it.  This doesn’t mean you burn the candle at both ends, leaving you exhausted and leaving your personal life in ruins.  It merely means that when you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the time to get there.  Action is what’s important here and the more ‘inspired’ the action is, the better the results in the end.

    2. Make sure you have friends who you can talk to.

    Sharing the load is important as with any self-improvement. If you can communicate with others and get feedback on how you are doing then that’s great.  We all need ‘cheerleaders’ in our corner to keep us going when times get hard, but you also need to have people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it.  So make sure you have a good support network around you, especially those people whose opinions you respect.

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    3. Adapt to your circumstances rather than over-thinking them.

    Sometimes, we can hit a hard period. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or your partner has left you.  Instead of over analyzing the situation, learn to adapt to your circumstances and accept them as they are.  It’s not about making your circumstances into some kind of a drama; remember, what you focus on expands which means you’ll get more of it.  You then don’t become your problems and you’ll feel a lot less burdened by them.

    4. Ensure that you use your time wisely.

    Time is of the essence, some might say; whilst others will say that time is an illusion.  One thing we do know is that you have one life on this planet, so how you use that time is of the utmost importance.  So how can you use your time wisely? Only you know how to do that, but look at how you currently spend your days: do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening?  Your time on this earth is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new, go for a walk, learn a new language or meditate but make sure it’s something you absolutely love.

    5. Always be consistent.

    A wonderful way to self-improvement is to make changes to how you do things.  For example, with your friends, are you always the unreliable one who bows out of an arrangement just before it happens? Or are you someone who starts a new exercise routine and then stops doing it 3 weeks into it?  Whatever it is and whatever you do, always be consistent. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself, especially because you’ll know that whatever you tackle, you’ll be able to consistently do it!

    6. Go and find your happy place.

    No, I’m not saying “place” as in popping to your local bar or restaurant and gorging yourself on your favorite drinks or food. What I’m saying is to find out what you love to do, what makes you happy and go there.  Your happy place is a place where you find peace, where you lose yourself and feel contented.  Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to you and ensures that you are always living in the present moment.

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    7. Make sure you embrace all your emotions.

    In life you are going to find that it throws you some difficult challenges, sometimes it will bring out your fears and lead you into uncertainty, and other times it will be joyful.  It’s important to embrace all emotions that come up in your life, embrace them wholeheartedly and understand why they are there and then let them go.  Try not to dismiss or resist them because remember “what you resist, persists,” so embrace them each and every time.

    8. Always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.

    The idea of stepping out of your comfort zone for some people can leave you paralyzed with fear; however for any changing in your life, your comfort zone will always have to be stepped out of.  It doesn’t have to be something big, like doing a sky-dive or something just as crazy. However, it’s worthwhile to change something that you’d once have feared, like going to the cinema on your own or eating at a sushi restaurant when the thought of trying raw fish which would normally mean you running for the hills.

    So try something new—it doesn’t have to be wacky, but it has to challenge you!

    9. Be on hand to help others.

    Whether it’s helping a stranger on the street or a family member or a friend helping someone else either in their time of need, lending a helping hand is a wonderful and simple self-improvement to make.  Giving to others is not only beneficial to those you are helping but also to yourself; it can give you a sense of purpose, of contribution and also takes your mind of your own troubles and worries.

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    10. Live in the present moment.

    A wonderful self-improvement tool is to live in the present moment, to live in the now.  It is within this moment that you’ll appreciate all that you have and see the beauty in the simplest of things.  Being mindful of your current circumstances and bringing your mind back to where it belongs will bring about a happier way of life instead of constant worry or stressing about the past or future—both of which do not exist. Only the present moment exists. When you get used to living that way, you’ll never want to go back!

    11. Learn something new.

    There is nothing so liberating as learning something new; it can lift both your confidence and self-esteem and give you a great reason to meet new people.  If you continually top up your brain activity by learning something new all the time, you’ll feel on top of your game and want to share the knowledge you have learned. There is nothing quite so empowering as learning a new tool in life that can either improve your circle of friends or raise confidence levels—or both!

    Reading is also a great way to help you learn something new:

    12. Exercise daily.

    This seems an obvious one, but exercise is so important not only to your health but also to your spirit.  We all know that after exercise, the world can feel a brighter and more positive place, so why don’t we do it more often?  Exercise isn’t about getting the perfect body or losing weight; it’s more about feeling good inside and out!  With a healthy body comes a healthy mind—so start something today. Even if it’s just a daily walk, it’s better than staying on that couch, again.

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    13. Go to new places, travel a bit.

    I’m not saying go fly off to some far away distant forgotten land—although you can if you so wish. It’s more about going to new places and experiencing life outside of your own back yard.  Too many of us stay in one place too often. We only see the same people, the same streets and do the same things each and every day.  If you want to improve your life, get out there and see the world and what it can offer.  You can start by going to a town or city you’ve never been to in your own country and checking out the architecture, the landscapes and the people.  Anything new is good, so get out there!

    14. Listen to uplifting music and dance.

    If there’s one thing that can really improve your life and get you excited about it, it’s listening to great uplifting music and dancing.  When was the last time you really let go?  Let it all hang loose and got into a piece of music and let yourself go?  Dancing, like exercise, makes you feel great. It releases all kinds of emotions and can make you feel unbelievably good.  Self-improvement isn’t all about the serious stuff; it can be something as simple as finding new music, music that inspires you and makes you dance and have fun!

    15. Get up earlier than normal.

    This is the last one, and it’s last because it’s one of those self-improvement tips that we all know is a good thing, yet we seem to avoid it at all costs!  If you think about it, the earliest part of the day is when your brain is most active because it’s been turned off for the last 7 hours or so.  So don’t you think it’s best to get all those things above done in the morning?  Things like exercise, meditation and dancing, which can all be done in the first part of the day.  Take it from me: this early morning stuff can really get your day started with a bang!

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    Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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