According to a recent study by Zippia, approximately 50% of Americans dislike their jobs. If you’re part of that fifty percent, you may be ready for a way out. Asking yourself, “what should I do with my life” is the first step on the path to breaking away from a meaningless job and finding a sense of purpose with your life.
Unfortunately, identifying the question is the easy part. The answer isn’t simple, and you won’t find it in an internet quiz or a step-by-step guide. Deciding what to do with your life is a deeply personal question that only you can answer.
However, you don’t have to determine it all on your own. We can help.
What Should I Do With My Life? Five Questions to Ask
The first step to determining what to do with your life is to be introspective. Here are five thought-provoking questions to ask yourself to help you identify what you want out of life.
What Are You Passionate About?
Following your passions will help guide you towards a meaningful and fulfilling life. Take a few minutes to consider the things that you are passionate about. What drives you and fills you with purpose? What can you talk about or do for hours on end without getting bored?
Sometimes, life has beaten us down so much that we don’t even know what we’re passionate about anymore. If this describes you, check out our ultimate guide to discovering your passion, available on Etsy. This workbook will ask you pointed questions and lead you through a step-by-step process of self-discovery to help you determine your passions and start you on a path towards pursuing your passions!
How Much Money Do You Need?
Knowing what you are passionate about is only one small part of the puzzle. The fact that you are passionate about something doesn’t mean that it’s what you should do with your life. There are many other things to consider, and money is a big one.
Sometimes the things we are most passionate about don’t pay the bills, and sometimes the things we are passionate about actually cost money. It’s okay to pursue your passion as a hobby while working a day job if you don’t want your passion to be your work. Take a hard look at how much money you need to live your life in your way, and let that guide you to decide what to do. It’s okay if you choose to work a job you don’t like that pays you enough money to pursue your passions on the side.
How Comfortable Are You With Discomfort?
Most of the things we want take hard work and perseverance. If you want to be an actor, are you comfortable moving to Los Angeles and working your butt off as a waiter, sharing a small studio with three other people just for the chance that you will make it big?
Although that’s an exaggerated example, the concept is valid. You shouldn’t dedicate your life to raising horses if you aren’t comfortable getting dirty in a barn, regardless of how much you love horses. Although homesteading may sound like a dream, you shouldn’t pursue it if you don’t enjoy cooking most meals for yourself.
It’s okay to choose a life of comfort over a life of service, and it’s also okay to choose the opposite. Be honest about what you are comfortable with, what you can live without, and what you can’t live without. This introspection will help you narrow down the options of what you should do with your life.
What Do You Want Out of Life?
When deciding what to do with your life, you first need to figure out what you want out of life. It sounds the same, but it’s slightly different. Do you want to have a family and a ton of kids? Some people find a deep sense of purpose in raising the next generation, while others don’t think family life is for them. If having children is your key to a meaningful life, that’s what you should do with your life. Find a job that pays the bills and lets you focus on your family.
Alternatively, you may find purpose in pursuing your passion rather than raising a family. If that’s the case, look for a job that aligns with that passion. Dedicate your life to that work, even if it means foregoing the traditional path. Society tries to force everyone to follow the same script of having a career, getting married, raising kids, then retiring, but the truth is that doesn’t work for everyone. Not everyone wants to have kids, and you can lead a good life without having them.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Think about what you want your life to look like in thirty, forty, fifty years, and let that be your guide to what you should focus on now.
What Motivates You?
The final question you need to ask yourself is what motivates you. If a big paycheck inspires you, you should pursue a career in a high-paying field. Alternatively, some people aren’t motivated by money and just want enough to get by while living a life of service to others.
It’s okay to be motivated by money, and it’s also fine to be motivated by something different, whether it be service, passion, or a sense of accomplishment. The important thing is determining what motivates you and considering your options based on that.
Discover What You Should Do With Your Life
Introspection can only get you so far. You may not have the answers to all of these questions, and even if you do, they might not give you a clear idea of what you should do with your life.
The next step is taking action. Here are some things you can do to help you discover your purpose in life.
Try Something New
Trying something new, like taking a course in a subject you don’t know a lot about, or visiting a museum on a topic that you wouldn’t normally consider, can help you figure out what you really like to do. You may find that the new thing you tried isn’t your cup of tea, and that’s fine. Part of learning what you want to do is discovering the things you don’t like to do.
Commit to trying something new at least once a month. Exploring these options may not change your life, but they will give you some insight into what you really like and what you don’t like.
If you are genuinely at a loss for what to do with your life, consider getting away for a short time. Take a weekend trip up to the mountains, turn off your electronics, and give yourself time to be away from it all and be alone with yourself.
Use this time as a chance to reflect on your life and your answers to the questions above. You might be surprised to find that taking a break to get away from it all can give you the clarity you need to figure out what you really want.
Talk to People
Another great way to get ideas about what you want out of life is to talk to people. Get on social media and join Twitter chats about varying topics. Join Discord servers that align with some of your interests. Get on meetup and meet new people.
This world is filled with billions of people, and each individual has a myriad of passions and interests. Engage with others, and you may discover a love that you never knew you had.
There is so much value and diversity in books. They can be journeys into different worlds, peeks into someone’s personal life, or instructional manuals for how to do something.
Books abound on every topic you can imagine. If you have an inkling what you want to do with your life, pick up a book on it. You can choose between tell-alls from people who have done it, guides on how to do it, and even general research on the main topic.
Take Care of Your Body
Although not typically seen on a list about finding your purpose in life, taking care of your body is essential to a happy and fulfilling life. You may not know what you want to do yet, but you want to be capable of doing it when you discover it, right?
Taking care of your body will give you the time to find your passion and discover meaning in your life. A healthy body and mind will help you pursue anything you dream of pursuing. So make exercising, preparing healthy meals, and self-care priorities.
Mediation can help you develop a healthy mind. It can help you gain focus and clarity about what you really want out of life.
Try meditating for just 10 minutes a day. Clear your mind of all your work stress and worries of daily life, and let your spirit be your guide towards what you want out of life.
Cut Out Toxic People
Toxic people can prevent you from living the life of your dreams because they fill your life with negativity. Our negative thoughts and negative emotions often arise from those closest to us who try to tear us down.
It’s time to start distancing yourself from people who fill you with negative energy. Surround yourself with people who will support you, your goals, and your dreams instead. This might be difficult, especially if that person is a close family member, but you only live once. Why keep yourself trapped in a sea of negativity when you can step beyond it and live a life of purpose?
Cutting these toxic people out of your life can also improve your self-esteem and make you feel happier overall, even if you aren’t pursuing your dreams. It’s a win regardless of what you decide to do with your life.
Journaling is a wonderful tool to help you discover what you want out of life. Use your journal to express gratitude for what you have, and let that be your guide towards a more fulfilling future.
You can also use your journal to jot down your answers to the first five questions we asked. Writing your answers in a journal will give you the space you need to reflect upon, expand upon, and fully develop your thoughts about each topic.
Hire a Life Coach
If you’re really stuck, you can try hiring a life coach to help you. These are self-development professionals dedicated to helping people figure their lives out.
Your life coach may help you discover career paths that you didn’t know existed or consider the meaning of life outside of a career.
Narrowing Down Your Purpose in Life
Now that you’ve had time to reflect and try some different things, it’s time to narrow down your life purpose. Here are some things you can do to help you determine exactly what you should do with your life.
Volunteering can help you narrow down your purpose in two ways. First, the opportunity to help others is a gift in and of itself. Many people find meaning in their lives through volunteer work.
That’s not always the case, though, and that’s okay. Volunteering can also help you discover what you want out of life. If you’re interested in wildlife, conservation, or veterinary medicine, consider volunteering at a zoo or wildlife rehabilitation center. Those interested in social causes can volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or a local community center. Dog lovers can volunteer at a local humane society.
The possibilities for volunteer work are endless. You may find fulfillment in the volunteer work itself, or you may discover that you want to pursue a career in a related field so that you can help people and get paid for it.
Joining groups and organizations is another way to pursue something you’re interested in outside of a traditional job. There are professional organizations available for nearly anything you can imagine. Many of these will require a membership fee, but they are great opportunities to get involved with a topic that you may want to pursue as a career and network with others interested in the same subject.
There are agricultural organizations, speech giving organizations, anthropology clubs, boating clubs, and various other organizations that you can join. Search your local area or online groups to find clubs related to your interests. Joining these is a great way to get a taste of something before fully dedicating your life to it.
Find a Mentor
A mentor can help you hone in on your life goals. If you already have an idea of what you want to do with your life, find a mentor in a related field. They can give you the support and guidance you need to decide precisely what you should do with your life.
Your mentor should be someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart. They should have experience with whatever you are considering pursuing and offer you guidance on both the good and the bad.
A big part of discovering what to do with your life is learning what not to do with your life. There are things you won’t be good at, and there are things that you won’t like. That’s okay; it’s a part of growing.
Also, remember that it’s also okay to fail at something you really want to do. Failing the first time doesn’t mean you should give up. Those initial failures can help you learn, grow and get better. If you can accept failure, you can move past it and learn from the experience.
No one was born a great writer, a perfect gamer, or an outstanding actor. Sure, some of us have natural talents, but we need to develop those talents to be successful, and failure is a big part of that. Embrace failure and let it guide you. It can help you get better at the things you love or decide a particular path isn’t for you.
At the beginning of this post, we cited a study saying that most people are unhappy with their jobs. In light of that, it might be surprising to see very little about career paths on this list.
That’s because life isn’t about work. Work helps us pay for life. Most of us don’t work our dreams jobs, we work to make enough money to afford the things we want, and that’s perfectly okay.
However, if you’re someone who finds fulfillment in work and aren’t getting it at your current job, it might be time for a career change. Quitting a dead-end job and pursuing a new career is scary, but it can often unlock the door to a meaningful life.
Embrace the Journey
The final step isn’t really a step; it’s a mindset shift. Life isn’t about the final destination. It’s about the journey. Maybe you will find happiness in a life of exploration, and that’s okay. Perhaps you will find meaning in a life of service, and that’s okay too.
Discovering what to do with your life is part of life, and it’s one of the things that makes life so spectacular. Don’t rush through this important part of the journey. Embrace it. Enjoy the ride. You might discover that the journey is what you’ve been missing all along.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.