What should I do with my life?
This is a question that most of us struggle to answer. Sure, there are a few lucky people who seem to know from an early age exactly what they want to do.
But for the majority of us, trying to answer this question is an ongoing struggle. There are simply an overwhelming number of options and it’s hard to know how well a particular career will fit for us.
I know that I went through my own struggles in trying to answer this question. I started off as a therapist, worked for a while doing social science research, transitioned to elementary education, before finally finding my calling as a life and career coach.
If you’re at all like me, you’ve probably gone through your own struggles in trying to figure out what you should do with your life. You’ve probably tried a few different careers already but haven’t found one that truly resonates with you. And now you’re feeling stuck and unsure what to do next.
If you’re finally ready to answer this question, finally ready to figure out with you should do with your life, then here are 6 techniques that I recommend using.
1) Ask someone you trust: Sometimes other people in our lives can provide insight into our lives that we don’t see ourselves. So if you’re struggling to figure out what you should do with you life, one option is to simply ask someone whom you trust. They may suggest options that you hadn’t thought of yourself.
If you decide to do this, be careful who you chose. Sometimes, those who are the closest to us have their own agenda and don’t always have our best interests at heart. Make sure you chose someone who knows you well and who can provide a relatively neutral opinion.
2) Pay attention to your daydreams: We all get lost in thought from time and time and start dreaming of a better or different life. Start paying attention to your daydreams…they can include powerful clues to what truly matters to you and what you should do with your life.
What sorts of activities do you regularly daydream about doing? What sorts of career appear in your daydreams?
3) Identify your heroes: The people whom we admire, whom we consider our heroes can help us figure out what we should do with our lives.
Make a list of 5-10 people whom you consider to be your personal heroes. For each person, write a paragraph or more about why you consider them your hero. Then reread your answers and see what themes and patterns you can identify.
4) Limited time question: Many experts suggest thinking about what you would do with your life if you only had a year to live. Personally, I don’t think that question is helpful. Most of us expect to live for more than one year so what we’d do with only one year isn’t the same as what would do with more time.
Instead, I suggest considering the following question: What would you do with your life if you knew that you had somewhere between 5-10 years to live? That amount of time is sufficient to do something meaningful and valuable with your life but not so much time that you can afford to waste it on things that don’t truly matter to you.
5) Write your own obituary: Although this technique may sound morbid, writing your own obituary can be an excellent way to figure out what you should do with your life.
Imagine that many years have passed and you have recently died. The people who were closest to you in life now have to write your obituary. What would you want those people to say about your life and what you have done and accomplished?
An alternative is to write your own eulogy. Imagine what you would want the 3-5 most important people in your life (living or dead) to say about you at your funeral. Write out responses for all 3-5 people and see what themes you notice.
6) Work with someone: There are lots of well trained professionals who specialize in helping people figure out what they should do with their lives. If you’ve tried some of the above techniques and still aren’t sure what you should do with your life, then working with a trained professional may provide you with the breakthrough you need.
If you choose this option, then I suggest interviewing at least three people and asking detailed questions about their process and how they’ll help you figure out what to do with your life.
Figuring out what you should do with your life is a challenge for many people. I know from firsthand experience.
If this is something that you’re struggling with, then I hope the above techniques help you to finally answer the question “What should I do with my life?”. My suggestion is to pick the one or two exercises that resonate best with you. And if you chose to do more than one, look for patterns and themes that emerge in your answers.
In the comments below, let me know which technique resonated the most with you. And if you’re someone who’s already answered the question “What should I do with my life,” then I’d love to know what you found most helpful in your journey and how your were able to answer the question.
Author: Ed Herzog
Editorial Assistant: Ellie Cleary / Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Yanko Peyankov/Unsplash