How to figure out what to do with your life in 5 steps
Life is for living, but most people just hurtle through with a vague blueprint, hoping for the best. Personally, I’m not a fan of long term planning. Let’s face it, fate throws curveballs at all of us scattering our plans like bowling pins so there’s no point being rigid in creating your life timetable. Whether you’re a gal with a plan recorded in notebooks or a free spirit who blithely hopes for the best, everyone has some idea of how they’d like their future to look.
When I was a child, writing was my passion and I worked towards having a career using my talent for writing. I thought children were not for me. Fast forward and I’ve achieved my dream of writing for a living but I’m also a mum of 7 and love having a big family.
Be flexible and evaluate as you go. If you realize what you thought would make you happy isn’t, then identify what needs to change, pull your big girl pants up, and make changes.
Terrified? You’re not alone.
Take the founder of Explorer Chick, Nicki Bruckmann, who literally jumped from a 35-meter waterfall, marking the end of her own “American Dream” style existence complete with Sears catalog house and country club membership, which she found stifling and unfulfilling.
In changing her life, she created a successful business enabling more people to live their best lives, creating memories and friendships along the way.
Step 1: Realize “I don’t know what to do with my life”
The very fact you’re reading this article tells me you either don’t know where to start with the life of your dreams or you’re starting to think you’re not living life to your full potential or satisfaction.
Maybe you feel stuck on a career path or are with the wrong person. Maybe you feel trapped in an educational course, job or relationship, smothered by expectations.
You might not be able to fully identify what part of your life is “wrong” yet. Maybe you feel restless, uncomfortable, depressed or anxious. Perhaps there’s just a niggling feeling deep down that there is surely more to life than this?
Whatever or whoever is leading you to the realization that you’re not content with how you live life, it’s time to be brave, ask yourself some difficult questions about your life purpose, and make some potentially life changing decisions.
So where do you start? I’m not generally a fan of lists but actually making a pros and cons list of the major aspects of your existence could be a useful thing to do – more on this and some other top tips in step 2.
Step 2: Ask Questions
It’s time to take a hard look at yourself. It’s too easy to make excuses or blame other people for all the things you don’t like about life.
Think about what you like to spend time doing. Nicki Bruckmann read a quote from businesswoman, socialite and philanthropist, Evelyn Lauder: “I’ve always believed that whatever you are when you are young, as you age, you become more so.” Nicki had a lightbulb moment. She wrote a note in the book stating: “I am an explorer.”
I knew I was a writer but finding the pathway to my current job was a bumpy one. At times I was deeply unhappy. When I was training to be a journalist there was no such thing as an online content creator so I couldn’t even imagine this career path.
I was a print journalist and while I had the skills to write news stories, the process didn’t make me feel good. Looking back now, I realize I was only animated and inspired when I was writing features.
After years of being a stay at home mom, I considered different jobs because I couldn’t face being back in the newsroom. My next move was to start my own business as a freelance writer and discovered this was my dream job.
What Are Your Core Values for Career and Beyond?
Career paths are strange things. Young people often study specific subjects to land a well paid corporate job. Who wouldn’t want to be one of those rich, successful people most admire? Well, one thing I’ve learned as I’ve got older is that money doesn’t make the world go round — love does. So pursue a goal of loving the people around you, your job and most importantly, yourself.
Examine your core values. Chasing what most perceive as success, it’s easy to lose touch with who you are. If you’re feeling lost, start figuring out next steps that can take you towards a happier, more interesting life.
You can change your life or career paths at any age. For example, my bestie, a single mom, left school with no qualifications. She did an access course and now she’s at law school. She says she looks at all the youngsters with some envy because they have none of the other responsibilities she has, but she’s loving her course. While she hasn’t figured out what to do when she graduates yet, says she’ll figure things out as she goes.
What are you Proud of?
What are you proud of about yourself? We are conditioned to feel uncomfortable answering this kind of question but be honest and the answers might help you figure out what you are destined to be doing. Although I was proud of my family I didn’t want to be defined entirely as a mother.
I am proud of my friend who took calculated risks and is hoping to be a lawyer. Do you have someone in your life you are proud of? Be inspired by them to work out how to figure out what to do with your life.
Step 3: Talk to People
So you have an idea that changes need to be made. Now do some research and talk to people about your plans. You don’t need to gain permission from anyone, but others might have some ideas about your strengths or how you can achieve your dreams. Some may be able to offer advice or practical help like work experience or an insight into what your new life might be like.
Step 4: Decide What a Meaningful Life Means for YOU
Everyone’s idea of a meaningful life is different. Not everyone has to ditch everything in order to find themselves. Decide on the most vital changes to make with good reason and discover how the prospect of those changes makes you feel. If you feel excitement, hope and joy you’re probably on the right track.
Step 5: Start Taking Action!
Time to take a deep breath and start taking action. If you’re looking at a career move, register with LinkedIn and other sites to put yourself out there. Or check out courses that might qualify you to do the job of your dreams.
The first thing I did was look into how to legally start my company. Whatever changes you plan to make, seek expert advice when necessary – it might save you money and stress in the long run.
Are You Ready to Rediscover Yourself?
Ask yourself: “If not now then when?” and if you can’t answer that, it’s maybe time to unveil a new you. If ditching the job, your partner, or your entire life feels like a step too far at the moment, make smaller changes to bring more joy to your existence. Be your own best advocate and make a point of considering your own needs more.
A good place to start is to take time for yourself, if possible away from all things familiar and “safe.” I’d strongly urge you to join the women’s Explorer Chick group and maybe plan a self-discovery trip. From tropical adventures to snow-filled adrenaline trips there’s something on offer to suit every type of woman.
Let me give you an insight into the vibe of this extraordinary company born out of a desire for fulfillment and freedom. I apologized to my editor on this site for sending an image of me looking less than outdoorsy. Her answer was “Here at Explorer Chick we are very adamant that any body that goes outside is an outdoorsy body.” It made me look at myself with new eyes and new pride. Another step towards living my best life.
Finally, if you feel scared about going out and creating a better life for yourself, stop and ask yourself how the person tasked to write your eulogy might describe you. If you don’t like the answer, it makes sense to do something about it.
Meet the Writer
Afra is an award winning journalist who has enjoyed many adventures including swimming with sharks, crewing hot air balloons and canyoning. She started creating online content ten years ago, diversifying after years writing for print publications. She loves travel, great food, and her family. Not necessarily in that order.
Favorite outdoor adventure: Snorkeling in the warm waters off the coast of Cyprus
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