Not knowing what to do with your life puts you in a difficult situation, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up. I say this because there have been many times in my life when I didn’t know what to do next.
To help you gain perspective and guide your quest to figuring out what you should do with your life, I’ve come up with 12 unique questions.
1) Does Wondering What to Do With Your Life Even Matter?
This might sound like a silly question seeing as you came to this article to try and help yourself figure that out. But hear me out, you are already doing something with your life; you might feel unsatisfied or that it lacks the meaning you seek. But is that a problem with what you are doing or only of your perception of what you are doing?
Put another way, sometimes we think about the more profound questions in life because other things are going on, and we seek to escape. In the past, I’ve had bad weeks that I used as an excuse to look into taking not-so-great jobs in another country. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t know what to do with my life.
Instead, I knew that I needed to change things, but I sought unrealistic change as an escape rather than accepting that.
I’m not saying there is no point in asking what you should do with your life, but be sure you are asking it for the right reasons. If you are having a bad week, and that is making it difficult to see what is going right, don’t get sucked into the negativity of thinking you are doing something wrong with your life.
2) What Would You Do If You Didn’t Have To Work?
Now that we are sure that we are in the right state of mind, ask yourself, what would you do if you never had to work? This is a silly question because if you aren’t already independently wealthy, you will not be able to escape work altogether. But for the sake of honesty with yourself, it’s good to wonder what you would do if money weren’t an issue.
Often we take jobs or seek careers because we think we are supposed to do something that pays well.
There was a time in my life when I did the LSAT because being a lawyer seemed like a respectable job. But I never wanted to spend hours a day reading legal documents; it was just the title, pay and respect that were appealing to me.
We are sometimes drawn to occupations for the wrong reasons; we need to be clear that this isn’t the case. Once we are sure that our motivations are pure, we can focus on what we would like to do with our time.
3) What Would You Suggest For Someone Else To Do In The Same Situation?
Sometimes we have one set of advice for ourselves and another for everyone else. But how can you be sure that what you’d suggest for yourself is better than the advice you’d give to a friend? I know for myself when I think about a topic, it’s often messy, but when someone asks me a question about it, I’ll usually give as clear an answer as possible.
Thinking of this differently, would you give someone else better advice than what you’d give to yourself?
Say, for example, if your friend were to ask you what they should do with their life, what would be your answer? Would you say don’t worry about that question, or would you suggest they are already good at this and that? Maybe that same advice would be helpful for yourself as well.
When we think of other people’s situations, we can be more objective, but we often get emotional if we try to think about what we should do.
If you can avoid an emotional attachment to your situation, you might get more definitive answers.
4) Aside From Discomfort, How Would Your Life Change?
If tomorrow you were to know what you should do with your life, would anything change? Or how would your life be better? If the only difference is that you would be a little less uncomfortable about figuring out what to do, what problem are you solving? This question relates to our first question; does knowing what to do with your life even matter?
To think about this is a better way; what else about your life would change if you knew what you were supposed to do?
Now that you know what would be different, is there another way to make those changes possible right now? Put another way, how can you change your life today without being perfectly sure you are heading in the right direction? Once you’ve got some ideas, go with them, they might be more helpful than you’d expect.
Another thing to keep in mind is that struggles often lead to success, so don’t write off the discomfort as it might be helping you come to a greater realization.
5) If You Didn’t Have An Answer Before, Why Do You Need One Now?
Most of us go through life without being sure about where we are headed or what we are supposed to be doing, which is mostly fine. However, if it was fine before, what has changed that has increased the urgency of figuring out what you should do? Instead, if you were ok without a purpose or clear meaning before, why do you need it now?
Often without thinking, we are doing meaningful things that bring us satisfaction and joy; if that is the case, we don’t need to formalize it; we can stick with what is already working.
As I’ve mentioned before, I get joy out of writing and to me, it feels like I am doing something important when I do it. But say my job changed and my role was to write articles for the company I work for. Would I still need to write at night? Or would the act of writing itself be enough to make my life feel meaningful without doing it for some self-defined goal?
My point is that if you were getting meaning from what you were doing before, why do you need to think differently now?
6) What About The World Needs To Change For The Better?
Many previous questions have focused on our inner world, but let’s look outside for a change. Given your understanding of what is going on globally, what do you think should change to make the world a better place? The idea here is that what we believe is problematic suggests some internal desire to take action.
If you aren’t sure what to do with your life, maybe you need to embrace what you already realize needs to change. We can’t always be sure that our views are valid, but knowing we care about something suggests we’d have the motivation to make that thing better, especially if it required a sustained effort.
When you look around and see something that needs to be improved, that reveals some internal discomfort that demands to be resolved.
If you can harness your need to change something, it might provide you with the proper motivation to make a difference and find your purpose.
7) How Have Other People Dealt With These Feelings In The Past?
If you are trying to figure out what you should do with your life, you might have encountered other articles like this. If so, what have other people done? Having a sense of what works for other people can serve as inspiration for us.
I watched some guys on YouTube talking about making websites as a business; their ideas inspired me and motivated me to buy their program. While I can’t say for sure that this was the best choice, it did solve a problem I was having in my life.
I knew what I wanted but didn’t know how to get it; their previous experience served as an example for solving my problems.
Building a business isn’t the same as figuring out what you should do with your life, but it is similar because it is taking a problem and finding a solution.
Try to think about how other people have dealt with what you are currently feeling; if you aren’t sure, you can always ask. At the same time, someone else experience is always better than none at all.
8) Why Are You Asking Yourself ‘What To Do With Your Life’ Now?
Are you asking yourself what to do with your life because you are avoiding something else or trying to distract yourself from another problem? On the grand scale of things, our lifes’ purpose seems essential, but surviving is much more critical.
Ask yourself, are you dissatisfied with something else? Maybe you hate your job or aren’t getting along with your friends, or you need to break up with your partner. Sometimes we ask deep questions to avoid more simple problems that we are choosing to ignore.
On the other hand, you may be doing something destructive, and this question is critical to resolving that.
Regardless of your why, it’s essential to keep in mind your motivations. If you think deeply to avoid doing something that needs to get done or is very practical, focus on that instead, as putting it off will cost more in the long run.
9) What Would It Take To Find A Satisfying Answer?
If you are asking yourself, what should I do with my life, you need to know what a satisfactory answer looks like. Suppose you are merely looking for something that you will enjoy or give you a sense of accomplishment. Then maybe you don’t need to worry so much about what to do; instead, do something you already enjoy or set a goal related to what you are already doing.
The point here is that you want to know what you are looking for before you set out to find it.
If you don’t know what a good answer looks like, there is no way to find it. Whereas if you know what you are looking for, it is more of lining the right things up. Often, we don’t accomplish our goals because we don’t have any, or they are so loosely defined that it is impossible to satisfy them.
If you can be clear about what you are looking for, you might find that you already have it, or it is just a matter of changing a few things to get there. Put another way, you might already know what to do with your life but haven’t realized it yet.
10) Where Have You Found Satisfaction In Failure?
Often to accomplish something significant, you have to be willing to fail, as things don’t always work out. Knowing this, it might be helpful to look at where failure has brought satisfaction or inspired further action.
If you already know what you are ok to fail at, you know where you won’t have a problem dedicating more time.
The first book I wrote took a considerable effort from me; I was proud of what I had accomplished, at least as far as the action was concerned. But when I had a friend look at it, he was concerned about how much work it would take to edit.
While his words hurt my feelings at the time, they also showed me that I needed to keep working at writing if I wanted to get better. I’m still writing 15 years later, so I must have improved. And if I’m honest with myself, I’d have regretted not trying more than failing with that first book.
To do anything significant, we need to be willing to fail; if you’ve already accepted failure as a part of something you enjoy working at, then you’ve probably found something worthy of your dedication.
11) What Do You Have Room For In Your Life Right Now?
If this is you, don’t be embarrassed, as it is natural to have different priorities. Often we might claim to be interested in something, but when it comes time to do something about it, we can never find the time.
However, for the things we enjoy, we can always find time, so if you can make time for it, then you already care enough about it for it to be something to do with your life.
My wife speaks Japanese, and I have always wanted to learn another language. I’ve even spent a decent amount of time studying Japanese in the past. But with a kid, my time is much more limited, and I only have time for one or two hobbies. For this reason, I write rather than study Japanese. This isn’t to say I will never learn, rather that, right now, I only have time for one thing, so I have to choose wisely.
If you aren’t sure what to do with your life, look at what you like to do and always find the time to do it. This doesn’t mean you’ve found your life’s purpose, but you might be on the right track.
12) Do You Beleive That You Can Figure Out What To Do With Your Life?
Hopefully, the last 11 questions have helped you look inside and outside of yourself for motivation, but this last question is the most important. When it comes to figuring out what to do with your life, do you believe it is possible? Put another way, do you think that our lives have a purpose and meaning and that it is something that a person can find?
This might sound like a silly question if you’ve read this far down the article, but I can tell you that some people may consider life’s purpose and meaning to be some new-age BS. If this isn’t you, you are in luck because the first step to accomplishing any goal is believing that it is possible to achieve. You don’t need to go all-in, but you do need to be open to the possibilities, which explains why belief is important in life.
If you are looking to figure out what you should do with your life, you need to sort out whether you believe that is even possible to begin with.
From there, you can work on a plan and then you can start asking yourself what direction you should head. Without faith in the process, there isn’t much use in trying.
If you found this article interesting, you might get something out of another article I wrote about finding purpose and direction in your life. In that article, we talk about 12 questions you can ask to help you find your purpose.