“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.”
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.
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. Numerous studies 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.
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. 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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
- How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track
- 12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life
- How to Find Yourself When You’re Lost in Life
Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com
|||^||Future Fit Training: Mental Health Week: 4 Mental Health Benefits Of Exercise|
|||^||Alexandria Journal of Medicine: Exercise as a treatment modality for depression: A narrative review|
|||^||Nature Human Behaviour: Choice overload reduces neural signatures of choice set value in dorsal striatum and anterior cingulate cortex|
|||^||The Guardian: The power of deadlines|