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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!

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    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 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 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

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    Last Updated on June 4, 2021

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    Everyone goes through changes in their lives, whether it be aging, emotional maturing, retirement, parenthood, or entering or leaving a relationship. However, some of us seem to embrace chance better than others. When change happens, we may find ourselves wondering how to start over and make the best of the new circumstances we find ourselves in.

    You’ve likely been in a situation where you felt that things just weren’t working out. Whether it’s in your personal relationships or career development, you feel stuck and unhappy with the way things are.

    You need that change, yet you’re afraid to make the conscious decision to move because you’re not even sure what change you need to make, or you’re afraid you don’t have time to start over in life.

    You might have been with the same company for the last 5 years, and the thought of doing the same thing for the next 5 or 10 years scares you. You want to do more, or perhaps even something completely different altogether.

    Or you could already be late into adulthood, where you’ve established a good career path, and you’ve got a lot going on, such as a family to care for. You’re financially stable and could potentially be working towards your next promotion. But, somehow, you’re not quite satisfied with what you’ve achieved.

    There’s just something missing. And yet it feels like it’s too late to leave all that stability behind to embark on a completely new journey of discovery.

    Why is that so many of us find ourselves limiting our windows of opportunity and potential because we think it’s too late to learn how to start over?

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    Meet Jack

    At age 37, Jack is a Senior Manager at one of the Big Four and has been working in Audit for over 15 years. He’s got a great salary, owns his own apartment, and enjoys the finer things in life, but not without the heavy demands that his job brings.

    On the surface it would look like he’s got life figured out. His next steps would be a promotion to becoming Director, or settling down with someone.

    Yet, when I asked him if he was happy with his work, he hesitated before answering. He said that he sometimes wished he could quit his job to do something less stressful. However, he’s become accustomed to this lifestyle and feels that it would be too late to give it up to pursue a new career or ambition.

    The external struggles that Jack faces are financial stability, social influences from his peers, the lavish lifestyle he leads, and status or recognition that he gets from continuing with this job. These may be things you’re facing as well.

    Internally, Jack faces the risk of losing what he’s built over the years. It just doesn’t seem logical to give up this job for the pursuit of an alternative that would give more meaning to his life.

    You might have come across a similar scenario as Jack’s, or you might be a Jack. Whether it’s the stresses and demands of your job, a lack of satisfaction, or a feeling of stagnation, you have to decide if you want to tear down that wall or continue to let it enclose you.

    How to Start Over When It Feels too Late

    The good news is that as our society continues to develop at such a rapid pace, it also means we have more opportunities to do things that were previously thought impossible. These days, more individuals are pushing the boundaries and breaking stereotypes.

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    It’s not just about age or education. It’s about you, and your ability to accept challenges and having the determination to break free from your existing situation.

      1. Gain a Fresh Perspective

      To break free from our limitations, we’ve got to take a step back and gain a fresh perspective on just what limitations really are. On the surface, limitations are things that prevent you from doing something, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find that limitations are the things that keep you constrained inside a loop.

      They keep you stuck facing the same problems, having the same choices, and taking the same actions over and over again. Limitations define the quality of your life. If you want to improve your life, then you must break free from the limitations that keep you in the same loop every day, month, and year.

      It may seem that the limitations that you’re facing are out of your control or something that just happens to you. However, your reality is derived from your perception.

      It’s not reality that’s important, but rather how you perceive your reality. Being able to control how you look at things is the key to learning how to start over and creating a fresh start. Shaping your perception is so powerful that just a small change in perspective can completely change everything, from your motivation and outlook, to your self-esteem and confidence.

      2. Identify the Challenges

      Once you decide to shift your perspective and look at things in a new way, identify exactly what challenges you’ll face as you try to learn how to start over and reboot your life. If you want to change your job, what’s standing in your way? Is it a lack of education, a poor job market, or simply a lack of motivation?

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      If you have just ended a long-term relationship, what difficulties to you foresee in the near future? You may need to find a new living situation, reconnect with old friends, or get used to being alone again.

      To identify what’s holding you back, you can take this Life Assessment for free and get a detailed analysis of how you’re doing in different life aspects.

      Whatever the challenges are, note them down and write down at least three possible solutions. Once you see that each problem has an answer, you’ll begin to put your mind at ease and get comfortable with change.

      3. Check in With Your Values and Priorities

      If you’re determined to start over and change your life, make sure you’re pointing yourself in the right direction as you change. Identify your values and priorities and understand that they’ve likely changed over the years[1].

      When you graduated college, your priority was likely finding a job and making money. Maybe now you’re more interested in developing good relationships with your kids or traveling the world. Be honest with yourself during this process in order to make the most the change you’re going to make.

      You can learn to identify your personal values here.

      4. Utilize the Breakthrough Framework

      The Full Life Framework (as outlined in the book Full Life Essential Guide) provides an overall paradigm shift to turn any limitation into an opportunity that is achievable.

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      By going through each of these four steps, you can transform your mind and actions towards the change that is needed to achieve your ultimate goals, and truly break free from your limitations.

      Step 1: Find the Hidden Opportunity

      It’s easy to see what’s standing in your way. Instead, look for any hidden opportunities that will come out of the change as you learn how to start over.

      Step 2: Plan Your Progression

      Create a plan to achieve the change you want to make. Set a long-term goal, and then break it down into smaller short-term goals that you can work on over the next few months or years.

      Step 3: Invest and Prioritize

      Invest your time and energy into making your plan and goals a reality. Prioritize what you do with each moment and create deadlines to ensure that your plan goes smoothly.

      Step 4: Tap Into Motivation and Good Habits

      Even if you have a good plan, it won’t work unless you develop motivation and positive habits that will keep you on track. These habits can include goal setting, daily reflections, and perseverance.

      Grab your copy of The Full Life Essential Guide to learn more on tapping into your motivation to find your life’s purpose.

      Final Thoughts

      It’s possible to make life changes and learn how to start over. Don’t become a person who lets life pass them by only to regret it when you’re retired or far into old age. Don’t let your life plateau and waste away in the daily grind for the next twenty years while wasting the potential you still have.

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      Tired of being held back by your limitations? It’s time to break free from them, and start living out your best days.

      More Tips on Starting Over

      Featured photo credit: Jenna Anderson via unsplash.com

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