Do you ever have one of those days where you are left wondering, “What am I doing with my life?” Maybe you have these days more often than you would like to admit.
I think this is something that happens to nearly all of us. We all set off on the path of our lives with this vision of how we want it to go.
Sometimes, we achieve all of our goals and get there only to discover it isn’t what we actually want. Other times, we end up on a different road that leaves us dissatisfied with where we are because we know we were meant for something else. Something that serves our purpose in life and gives it all meaning.
Being aware that something is off is a great first step in answering the question, but if you find yourself really stuck on it, and asking yourself this frequently, then it might be time to turn that energy into some forward movement.
How can you create that forward motion and start answering this burning question? The answer to this question doesn’t have to be the perfect one. You will spend your entire life trying to answer it when you could have instead spent that time living your life and figuring it out! These tips will help you create a plan and avoid having an existential crisis in the middle of the afternoon.
Get started somewhere
This is such a big question, and it’s difficult to find an answer to it. Therefore, people ponder it for a long time. The simplest answer is to do something! It may not be the “right something,” but any action will get you moving in a new direction.
That movement gives you the opportunity to gain new experiences and even collect more skills. These skills and experiences will stay with you wherever your journey in life ultimately leads; they don’t disappear. You also never know what situations they may come in handy for. Life itself is made up of all our experiences, so nothing that teaches, grows, or moves you, will be a waste of time.
When I say do something, I mean really do anything. Whether you want to work on your career, take a class, build a portfolio, or learn a new software program.
I was three classes away from finishing my master’s degree in Management and Leadership when I realized I didn’t want to have the career in business I thought I did—I asked, “What am I doing with my life?” all too often.
I wanted to fulfill my dream of being a writer, so I found a platform that let me publish original content. My Medium account grew, and that action led to other actions meant to increase my skills.
I finished that degree, but the action I took to place myself out into an unknown space and try something new ended up paying off. I learned how to write better on Medium, through some brutal conversations with editors. I discovered Upwork and started building a client base.
I don’t write much on Medium anymore, but I left my management career for a career in writing. I’ve decided to get a Ph.D. in General Psychology, as that is where my passion and writing usually collide. It all started with one little action. That was not my destination, but a wonderful starting point. So do something and just get started!
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” ― Zig Ziglar
Find inspiration from people who are doing what you want to be doing
When I first stumbled across Medium as a reader, there were so many people on there who wrote for the platform full time. Some were trained writers, and others were single moms with an inspirational story to share. Each person inspired me with their story, and I knew if they could do it, and follow their dreams, then so could I.
It would take learning new skills, practice, and hard work. It would take patience, but it could be done. Then one day, about six months into my journey of “I want to be a writer for the rest of my life,” I had a phone call with a client.
He had read my work about my traumatic childhood, and the drama of my mom being in the witness protection program. He had read about my struggles with self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love. On that phone call, I told him about all of it in detail.
He asked me, “What does the goal for Danielle Dahl look like? What do you want your writing to do?” I told him that eventually, I wanted to write a book, but that seemed like such a big dream. Right at that moment, I just wanted to write and inspire others and not have to work at my full-time job. I wanted to support myself with my writing.
Over the next couple of months, this man inspired me at every turn. Both with stories from his own life, and the faith he placed in me. The feedback he gave me, the opportunities he afforded me, and the unwavering certainty that I would end up where I wanted, were an invaluable source of motivation.
Letting yourself become inspired and motivated by others is a much more productive use of your time than asking, “What am I doing with my life?” A spark of inspiration can ignite a whole inferno of passion. The possibilities are truly endless when you feel you can achieve anything.
Find a mentor you trust, talk to someone about your dreams, speak them out loud and claim your intentions. Those actions will be worth the time spent and will help you build a life that satisfies not just you, but maybe inspires someone else, too. It will be the honor of my life if someone out there finds that kind of inspiration from my words one day.
You will probably not find the answer inside your comfort zone
Trying new things is a fantastic way to widen your horizons. Doing something you’ve never done before, but always wanted to can give your life a little extra boost. Doing something that scares you, something that differs from what you normally do, not only breaks the routine of your life but also builds your confidence. That confidence will help inspire you to keep doing new things!
Maybe you don’t know what you want to do with your life because you haven’t tried that thing you’re meant to do yet. Get out there and start ruling things out! This is the best way to figure out who you are, what hidden talents you might have, and where your passion lies.
Many of us ask, “What I am doing with my life,” because we feel like we are in a rut. Imagine what experiences you would have if you use the time you spend questioning everything to discover new options. Your life can be so much more than whatever you are doing right now if you want it to be. It all starts with taking one giant step outside of your comfort zone. It might surprise you how much you like something you didn’t think you would.
Abigail Brenner, M.D., gives us some benefits of stepping outside your comfort zone in this article, but my favorite is that it helps us handle change. She explains, “Leaving your comfort zone ultimately helps you to deal with change—and making change in a much better way. Life transitions are all about change. Each time you transition, you move to another level. Inevitably, these life transitions transform you.”
If you are wondering about where your life is going, then maybe a transition is just what you need.
“It always seems impossible until it is done.” ― Nelson Mandela
If you aren’t sure about what your next step is, that is ok. The fact that you are asking the question means that you are searching for more. Take that first step, because your search has to start somewhere.
It is easy for us to get lost in our heads and the doubt and fear that lives in there. This is why having people around you that inspire and motivate you to be the best version of yourself is so important. Find these people and connect with them.
Life is about experiences and connections, and finding people that inspire you can lead to both! Roy T. Bennett, the author of The Light in the Heart, offers a profound reason to leave your comfort zone behind. He says, “We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”
Are you being honest with yourself? Do you know you aren’t on the life path you want to be on? Leave a comment in the section below about one simple step you took that changed your life for the better, and one thing you are going to do today to keep that momentum going! You might just inspire someone else to stop asking themselves, “What am I doing with my life,” and take that much-needed first step in their journey.