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Last Updated on January 14, 2022

Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

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Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

Are you wondering…

Where am I going in life? Where am I supposed to be going in life?

And to answer your questions, here’s what the great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley famously wrote:

There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

Where Am I Going? Is It the Right Direction in Life?

There are many times in life where one does not know what comes next or where to go in life. The realization that you are lost and don’t know where to go, or that you don’t like where you are going often comes as an epiphany.

Most people describe this as being in a rut. It’s like you have everything you want and still so much is missing. You could have everything in the world but something about your life still doesn’t feel right.

Signs That You Need to Change Direction in Life

It is important to identify when you are unhappy with your life and want to change where you are going. Some of the most common signs of needing a change in life are as follows:

  1. You feel unhappy with your life and often reminiscence about the choices you made.
  2. You feel as if you are forced to go against your morals and intuition at work or home.
  3. The situation that you find yourself in currently is causing you a lot of stress.
  4. There is a fear or dread of the future and the consequences of your life decisions that have been causing you anxiety.
  5. You feel like you had to give up on your passions and interests just to make it in this world.
  6. The future that you are currently envisioning seems nothing like what practically lies ahead.
  7. You find yourself surrounded by unhappy people who often think you’re too idealistic.
  8. You often look forward to having a ‘good day’ even when nothing is particularly wrong with the days right now.

If you feel like most of these signs apply to you, then it’s time to re-evaluate where you are headed in life and how you want to change that.

The 3 Key Phases of Life

Before learning how to choose the right direction for yourself, first try to understand the 3 key phases of life:

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The Learning Phase

The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives.

Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

The Earning Phase

The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net.

The overriding concern in this Earning phase is the security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.)

Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives.

Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

The Yearning Phase

What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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“A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.

Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this.

It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

Think about where you are…

As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future, you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness.

I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s. [1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

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It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

How to Choose the Right Path

Do you know at what phase of life are you now? Once you understand where you are now, the next step is to find the direction you want to move to.

You have the motivation and direction to take your life where you need it to be, you just need to get up and do it. The best time for change is now, and if you procrastinate any further you might miss out on a great opportunity.

To live a meaningful life, it is important to pick a direction that brings both peace and success. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing a new direction in life:

1. Chose What Your Inner Child Would Want

It is very important to acknowledge the needs and opinions of our ‘inner child’. That’s because we often have real happiness at this age and develop passions that last us a lifetime. To calibrate your direction in life, think of what the younger you would feel about your current situation and what would they want to do.

2. Think About The Things You Want To Change

Make a list of the things in your current life that you are dissatisfied with and want to change. Then think of the alternative options you have to give yourself a life where you find happiness and fulfillment by avoiding these things. This will help you understand what must be done to feel good in life.

3. Find Inspiration to Follow

Everyone has an idea of what they want in life and finding inspiration isn’t hard in this day and age. Just think about those you admire and see as role models and try to follow in their footsteps. As they have already reached a place you associate to be a goal, you will find it easier to navigate your way through life to reach that destination as well.

4. Be Clear on What You Don’t Want To Be

To find out where you want to be headed in life, try finding out where you don’t want to end up. This would help identify situations and placed you would try and avoid at all costs. It keeps you on the right track because if you minimize the wrong paths, then choosing the right one becomes much easier.

5. Learn to Enjoy Where You Are

There is no such thing as a perfect life. What you need to learn, is to work hard and to find things to be happy and grateful for.

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Live in the moment, appreciate the things you have. Only this way you will see clearly the meaning of your life.

6. Commit to Getting or Staying Healthy

Nothing is more important than your mental, spiritual and physical health.

Getting your life on the right path isn’t something you can achieve in a day. But, with hard work and dedication, you will get there!

7. Help Others

By helping others you will increase your sense of purpose and improve self-esteem.

There are many ways to do this. Volunteer in your community, mentor young people, or just help neighbors.

You will be surprised by the feeling you will have after.

Start Making the Change Today

After reading all this, you are surely ready to change the direction of your life. Start by making a change today instead of just thinking about it. Every difficult journey starts with a single step, and this is the sign to take yours. Once you make one change, the rest follow suit and soon your life will be exactly how you want it to be.

Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
[2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

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Rowan Manahan

Rowan is a professional trainer with over 20 years’ experience mentoring and consulting with executives at all levels.

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