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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

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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!

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    More Tips to Help You Get on Track

    Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Kathryn Sandford

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

    Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career How to Stop Being Sad and Start Feeling Happy How to Persevere (and Get Ahead) When the Going Gets Tough How To Be an Optimistic Person When the Odds Are Against You 7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2021

    How to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job and Lead Your Dream Career

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    How to Quit Your Unfulfilling Job and Lead Your Dream Career

    Doesn’t matter whether it’s a 9 to 5 job or you work in shifts; is it a satisfactory job?

    Ain’t you tired of the monotony or should I ask:

    Did you ever feel like quitting your unfulfilling job or changing your unfulfilling career?

    Realizing your materialistic needs is important but do you love your means to earn bread?

    Too many questions… I’m sure you want to answer none.

    But don’t worry, most people are on the same leaky boat!

    Wondering what’s wrong?

    As a teenager, you dream; you aspire. You are exuberant enough to chase those crazy dreams.

    But as you grow older, the zeal seems to fade away. That drop-down in intensity level sets a foundation for a compromise.

    You don’t persist with even one dream.

    What’s worse, you give different names to your choice to back out. You blame people and situations as per your convenience.

    Alas! those vivid dreams lose to your sub-conscious mind.

    But before you get disheartened, here’s an interesting fact:

    The real Col. Sanders was an entrepreneur who didn’t become a professional chef until he was 40, didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 62, and didn’t become an icon until after he sold his company at 75.[1]

    So yes, though it’s tough to quit your tiring job; it’s easier than you think.

    And when you have realized your existing job is not leading to happiness, it’s time to change!

    Desperate for super easy solutions?

    Here’s a list of 19 simple actionable steps to quit your unfulfilling job and follow your aspiring career:

    1. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

    One big reason you are compromising today is your repulsion to challenge the boundaries of your comfort zone. You don’t want to raise the bar.

    You move on subconsciously making emotional adjustments and self-harming sacrifices.

    Not anymore; it’s time to challenge it!

    The clock is ticking and you need to flow with time. That is how you welcome the new. It is one of the major steps in breaking the monotony of an unsatisfactory job.

    Not sure about stepping out of your comfort zone still? Read this article: Is It Really Better to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone?

    2. Get Rid of the Memories from Your Existing Job

    Most of the times, it is your past which doesn’t allow you to liberate yourself in the present. Your memories from the current job are dominant over your memories you want to create.

    Come on! You are stronger than you think. You need to detach yourself from those sweet-sour memories. Only then, you could take a big leap towards self-realization.

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    Here’s the deal:

    A beautiful future awaits you where every moment is so blissful you’ll not recall the past to trigger a memory.

    Learn how to let go of the past: 7 Ways To Let Go Of The Past And Live A Happy Life

    3. Listen to Your Gut

    The problem is everyone has access to the locker of your right-wrong beliefs, but not you. You listen to everyone and lose your conscious decision.

    Why don’t you back yourself?

    If you don’t love what you are doing and you want to quit your unfulfilling job, QUIT.

    Why do you restrict yourself?

    Only you have the answers to your uncertainties. Stop seeking answers from others. Ask yourself receptively. You’ll unlock all the mysteries about yourself.

    Here’s some advice for you: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice

    4. Get Excited to Fail

    Sounds silly? It’s not:

    Success is an elusive mask covering many lifeless faces of failures.

    In case you don’t know, if Thomas Edison hadn’t failed, he might not have become America’s most well-known and prolific innovator.[2] And there are even more examples like this: 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

    The pursuit of your dream career is full of struggles and failures. And unless you are ready to fail many times, you are ineligible to succeed.

    Only if you settle with your current job which is unsatisfying will you be a real failure. The excitement to fail on the other side is unmatched. Worth a shot!

    5. Disallow Social Environment to Control You

    If there were no cameras, every soul would tell an interesting story.[3]

    I’m sorry but your social environment is bullying you. You have become a puppet to people.

    People define your journeys and destinations, and you are losing big time.

    Wake up call!

    Cut the chord with your social environment which is not only polluting your personal but also your professional environment: Managing Your Social Network Addiction

    6. Do Not over Analyze, Execute

    Intelligent people are particularly prone to the overthinking that can cause analysis paralysis and lead to a failure to make decisions or take action.[4]

    Yes, you are intelligent but you need to be smarter! Never allow your intelligence to become a hindrance in quitting your unfulfilling job.

    Thinking and planning are important aspects of a visionary, but never allow overthinking to take a toll on the execution.

    Take small steps rather than thinking about giant leaps. Divide your goal into small targets; make sure you achieve them.

    Here’s how: Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today

    7. Make Your Family a Part of Your Dream

    If you are fortunate enough to live with your family, you owe responsibilities towards them. After all, they are your father, mother, siblings, life-partner.

    Maybe your dream career is something they haven’t heard about, but relax. Don’t expect magic overnight!

    Be courageous enough to make them understand why you want to quit your unsatisfactory job.

    You may fail big time but don’t lose hope. This is the absolute test of your endurance.

    When you convince them, you don’t have to search for a support system in your failures. And a few applauds from them in your small wins keep you up and running.

    8. Spend Time with Like-Minded People

    To challenge the now and dive into the new, I’m afraid you’ll not find many people standing by your side.

    But that’s fine!

    Keep a close watch on people with whom you spend your precious time.

    What you need to ask yourself:

    Are these people your motivators or the ones who constantly try to put you down?

    When you get an answer, trust it and go with the flow. You may lose people but you’ll discover yourself.

    9. Prioritize Inner Happiness over Monetary Happiness

    Possibly, there’s a big fat cheque between your unsatisfactory job and your aspiration. The choice is difficult!

    You’ll agree money is not everything but the first thing to be happy. But if your job is not reviving and is killing your happiness, what are you waiting for?

    Maybe your dream career isn’t as materialistically rich as your current job, but assuredly, it’ll make you spiritually content.

    You have found out what will make you happy, so just go out there and get it: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

    10. Learn to Say No

    ‘No’ is just a two-letter word, ever measured its intensity?

    It is loud enough to make you a warrior. However, we don’t use it often.

    Being on the receiving end of a no can be brutal, but saying yes to everything isn’t going to make up for that.[5]

    Learn this art to quit your unfulfilling job! Not only with others but use it often with yourself. Any denial or a small sacrifice for your own good is a gateway to self-love. It boosts your self-esteem to disallow the negative influences to entice you. You find reasons to listen to yourself.

    Leo Babauta has some suggestions on this: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    11. Accompany Yourself in Your Alone Time

    You encounter many moments in your daily life when there is no one around. What do you do in that alone time?

    Either you retreat to the past or you drive to the future. What you don’t realize is your present requires an introspection.

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    This ignorance is making you incomplete. Neither you are self-aware nor there is a clarity in your thought process.

    The secret is when you spend alone time with yourself, your dream becomes your mission, and the inroads make way for beautiful roads. Your journey doesn’t need a navigator. And your questions have answers.

    Use your alone time to do some self reflection: How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

    12. Feel Fortunate for the Blessing

    When most of us are fighting for the necessities of survival; you discovered your dream.

    Where most of the people don’t get solitude time, you know what makes you blissful.

    Yes… you are fortunate! How could you dump this wonderful opportunity?

    There are many people who might replace you in your unfulfilling job. But make sure no one replaces you in the work you do the best.

    13. Never Lie to Yourself

    Confidence is imperative but if there is no transparency in your thought process, only confidence is a big disaster.

    Self-acceptance is supreme in pursuance of your dream career.

    You need to acknowledge your current standing and future goals.

    You need to be brutally honest to yourself. Only then, there’s a clarity in your thought process.

    Don’t blindly run towards your dream’s realization; walk on your aspiration-driven path consciously.

    14. Become an Inspiration for Others

    Amidst your uncertainties, someone is closely watching your actions and reactions.

    Maybe your close friend or your younger sibling, there’s someone relating to you. They are curious about your next move.

    But what do they seek from you? They silently urge you to take one brave move to open the floodgate.

    Only you can break the shackles of their boring monotony. Because when you execute, they feel happy and liberated like you.

    You become their unsung hero!

    15. Realize Your Current Job Is Saturating You

    Your current job is unsatisfactory. It cannot get worse. It is tiring and boring, it doesn’t release serotonin anymore.

    And you know it!

    You even know your exploration begins only when you quit your current job. What else can motivate?

    Always remember:

    You may do well in your existing job but you will create wonders on the other side. Go all in!

    16. Segregate Your Dream into a Passionate Movement

    You have a dream career in mind. But to follow it, you are not resilient to do what it takes to reach there.

    You lose hope quickly!

    Look:

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    Neither dreaming is enough nor quitting your existing job is easy.

    Only your passionate will is powerful enough to withstand the test of time. Let that fire burn inside you until your dream coincides with reality.

    17. Pen down the Possible Positives

    It’s super easy! But you are probably wondering:

    How could such a small step be beneficial in quitting my unsatisfactory job?

    Yes, it’s a small step but immensely powerful.

    When you list down how quitting your unfulfilling job is a boon, trusting your decision becomes easier.

    Any apprehensions at any point flush out when you recall those jotted positives of leading a dream career.

    18. Break the Rules

    There is no thumb rule or a particular mantra for success. It’s good to have idols. There’s no harm in following them. But what’s wrong is you compare your journey with them.

    What you don’t realize is that you may share the same goal but the approach has to be different.

    Never kill your originality trying to become like them.

    Define your own journey. Never set a rule or a predefined path for success. Break-free!

    19. Presume the Worst-Case Situation

    Try to question yourself:

    What will happen if you quit your unfulfilling job to lead to your dream career?

    Is it your financial stability or an emotional dependency you are losing on? Whatever it is, imagining the worst-case scenario enables you to loosen up.

    It provokes a nothing-to-lose attitude where there is no fear of anyone and anything. You move forward wholeheartedly with authority and devotion.

    Your self-motivation is at cloud nine; you don’t fear the consequences anymore.

    I hope any of these actionable techniques revive the feel you were about to lose.

    Final Thoughts

    You are a blessed soul who knows a couple of things more than most of the people:

    Your current job is unfulfilling, and that you have a career-oriented dream.

    But knowing about these isn’t enough!

    Set yourself free as an individual and dive into the competition where your only competitor is you.

    Life is too short to regret! Now when you have tasted the feeling of your chips being down, you deserve the magical feel to be on the other side of the table.

    Always remember:

    You are wrong only till the time you are struggling. But if you keep moving and taking those hard punches, one day you’ll realize your dream. With you, people realize everything about you were (and are) right!

    More Useful Career Advice

    Featured photo credit: Leonardo Yip via unsplash.com

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