How to answer, “What to do with my life?”
“What to do with my life” could be a tricky question sometimes. So many options are placed over our heads it’s hard to choose one. There was once a time in my life where I wanted to be a fireman. (But that changed after realizing EVERYTHING you had to do on the job.)
To know what to do for the rest of our life is a pretty scary decision to make. (Especially when you’re young and asked by everyone.) We’re asked this question repeatedly the moment we’re barely able to talk and attend school. It takes a lot of pressure to determine our life passions when we’re barely deciding what we enjoy.
To truly discover what we want to do with our life takes time and a trial of activities we performed in our childhood. Overtime, our influences become manipulated by the judgments of others. They tell us what we can and can’t do, and depending on their position, we believe them. This is what sets many people back from achieving their passions.
Naturally, people want a career that gives them the necessary income for comfort and survival. But on the other hand it doesn’t seem simple to pursue their goals and survive off a balanced income.
Examples would be artists, writers, playing video games, poets, or horseback riding. These activities are fun to do and we want to do them for a living. But the “logical” side of our brains manage to convince us that those skills won’t help us survive financially, and we drop those dreams.
Not everyone is going to know how to immediately answer, “What to do with my life?” and in many cases they shouldn’t. At least not immediate. It’s not like deciding what you want to eat for dinner. This is a question that pertains to your life, and a question only your heart could answer.
1. Reflecting on yourself
Look at where you’re at in life this very moment. Ask yourself if you like the direction you’re going and where you see yourself in a decade from now. Do you like the career you choose or do you feel pressured to remain in it because of social circumstances.
It’s a pretty idea to say we want to be a Doctor or Lawyer because it’s a demanding job, but be honest with yourself by determining if that’s what you really want. (Because saying you want to be a Doctor is one thing. Taking your first medical class with the realization this isn’t what you want is another.)
A career choice may sound tempting to pursue due to financial reasons, but once those needs are met, would you really be satisfy with your decision? If you’re contempt with your career choice, then continue going the same road.
However, if you know you have a different calling, ask yourself what it is. The ideal person’s life is to get a career, retire, and grow old with their spouse. But if you’re adventurous, don’t be afraid to tell yourself you want to travel the world.
This is your life and you shouldn’t feel pressured to follow society’s rules on how to live normally. (That means if you want to run a teddy bear hospital, pursue after it and be prepared for the emergency calls.)
2. Ignore what the world thinks
From the time we’re in grade school, we’re constantly told what to think and believe. We’re told what “fun jobs” to go into and we don’t really have a true moment to ask ourselves what we want.
We think we know what we want because we subconsciously notice other people approval of us when we pursue a career they’re interested in. (I never really had any approvals when I said I wanted to be a superhero. Which is probably the reason I never pursued it.) But overtime as we begin thinking more independently, we stop pursuing our personal interests and go for what other people approve.
After all, our family desire is to see us rise to fame and fortune by chasing after careers that promise those benefits. But like I said before, this isn’t their life. It’s yours and you shouldn’t allow their influences to control your destiny. You were given freewill for a reason, and to neglect it would be a waste.
3. View your passions
Once you decide you want to change your life the way you desire, write a list of your personal interests. It doesn’t matter what you choose so long as it makes you happy. It’s amazing how the small things in life could give us joy. (Such as waking up to a sunny morning instead of a drowsy raining day.)
A man once explained his passion for tailoring suits and watching his clients put them on. He referred to his work as art and was proud of them despite what others thought. He didn’t care if he was rich or poor. He was happy with his life and what he did for a living.
This is the type of passion we should all have towards something. Don’t think about the financial part of it or what others will think. Money will come naturally to you if you continue working on your passion and creating new ideas to improve it.
4. Ask yourself challenging questions
We tend to push tough questions about life to the back of our minds to prevent unwanted feelings. But these are only temporarily benefits that eventually make us depressed.
You need to ask yourself challenging questions such as, “Why am I not doing what I love,” “do I have an excuse for being the person I am today,” “is there anything truly keeping me from achieving my goals or is it all just excuses?”
You need to answer these tough questions whenever you’re feeling doubtful about chasing after your dreams. Otherwise, you’ll continue allowing your worries and concerns to cloud your mind and decision making.
An example would be the time I was procrastinating from running or exercising. Coming up with excuses were extremely easily, but the root cause would always be the same. Which was, “I was simply too lazy and unmotivated to start the process.”
5. Explore around your interests
Maybe you don’t have an interest or hobby you’re passionate about yet. Start exploring different activities to discover what naturally attracts you. Watch other people and see if what they do excite you the same way it excites them. (Just don’t stalk someone or take pictures of them without their consent. It’s kind of hard convincing them you’re not a crazy stalker after getting caught.)
From there, practice it for 30 days to truly know if you’re interested in it or not. It’s challenging trying something new and very compelling to drop it after a few failed attempts. But to determine if you’re not interested in anything is by practicing it daily and becoming good at it. From there, that’s when you can decide if you want to continue with it or not.
6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
We often feel judged after making a mistake at anything. (It’s never a fun to drop a baseball after it finally comes your direction.) And I’m not only referring to those who might be watching us either. We’re our biggest critics and the little voice in the back of our head is always trying to convince us we’re failures in our most vulnerable moments.
But mistakes are a natural part of life and how we learn the best. (Me dropping that baseball sort of made me work extra hard to prevent that embarrassing moment again.) Mistakes let us see the way to not do something and go about it differently the next time we approach it.
Remember, you could only make so many mistakes before mastering something. (Karate Masters simply don’t master the art of breaking a brick with their heads on the first day. At least without needing immediate medical attention.)
7. Practice your interest everyday
To become a master at your interest is to work on them everyday. Give yourself the mentally of wanting to improve yourself more than the previous day. Don’t compete against other people. Only compete against your past self. (If you had a time machine, you should be able to brag to the person you were last week about how much better you are than them.)
It could be a small or large difference, but whatever it is must be better than yesterday. I tell this to myself daily so I could push myself beyond my previous self and learn something new. This is what strengthens a person’s mentality. Don’t look at the big picture of where you want to arrive to.
Take baby steps and you’ll eventually get there without even noticing.
8. Learn to conquer bad habits and distractions:
Even if you know what you want to do with your life, that still doesn’t take away your distractions. Examples would be television, email, YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram. You may want to achieve greatness, but whenever you allow small obstacles to get in the way, it makes life more difficult to get there.
Procrastination then starts to take place, and we make false promises that we’ll work on our goals later. (I’ve had so many moments where I told myself I’ll only watch one more episode on Netflix but ended up watching the season.) This then creates disappointment and send us discomfort feelings.
9. Start small and Build from there:
Only look at the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve once a week. Don’t think about how much money you’re going to make, how big your goals are, or how famous you’ll be. Those things will come naturally the longer you pursue your goals and the harder you work on them.
The more we dwell on the bigger picture, the more disappointed we become when we don’t reach it the next day. (Unless it’s playing the lottery, then all I have to say is….touche.) This thought process lowers our motivation little by little daily until we find ourselves too tired to continue working on it.
In final thoughts…
When you answer the question, “What to do with my life,” look over these questions and answer them honestly. Don’t play ‘make believe‘, or settle for an uncomfortable life because it gives you a decent income. Pursue your passions so you could see life from a different perspective filled with excitement and joy.