Are you sitting there, wondering how to figure out what to do with your life? Well, I’ve got some news for you. You never really figure it out. Life isn’t linear, you could one minute want to be an artist, and the next discover a hidden passion for writing TV scripts. Deciding that you can only be one thing in life is super dangerous, it will hold you back. You can be more than one thing, of course.
Most of us ask this question when we’re in an unfulfilling job or have just finished University. You’d be forgiven for thinking that your degree sets you on a path that you have to follow, but it’s not true. The modern world is online, is all about retraining, gathering as many skills as you can, and developing a growth mindset. You’re never stuck where you are, you’re always moving. So, if you don’t know where your passions lie and what you want to do, read on…
Where you’ve come from determines where you’re going
Your past is littered with clues about what you really want to do. Think about the things you spent your time on in the past, the things you loved and wanted to make time for. The projects you’ve thrown yourself into, the tasks you’ve taken on, think about your hobbies too. If you evaluate your experiences from childhood until now, you’ll definitely see you have some things in common. Some passions that you just had to fulfill. Your past is the key, this is how to figure out what to do with your life.
Ask yourself, what do you do at work that’s extra (something not expected of you) that you do just because you enjoy it. That will help you. Grab a notebook and a pen and start writing down all the things you have in common. What happened to me, when I left University, was that I had no idea what I wanted to be. I was (and still am) a writer. But what can you be when everyone tells you the only career you can go into is teaching? By throwing myself into a variety of experiences, I learned that I enjoyed marketing, copywriting, and have a pretty analytical brain.
It can also help to think about what people turn to you for. People would come to me asking to write things for them all the time, think of words for them, help them with creative content ideas, and I realized, that’s my strength. I should stick to it.
Always ask yourself why
There’s a reason you’re where you are right now. Everything you’ve done has led you to where you are, whether you’re enjoying your job, looking for work, or simply thinking about the future. Why have you ended up where you have? If you’re still in education try to write down some of the things you absolutely love about your student life, similarly, write down what you love about your work environment too. If you had a magic wand to change everything, what would you change?
In an ideal world, you’ll probably want money with the flexibility to do whatever you want, travel, vacations, spend time with family. But that’s not always realistic, at least not at the start of your career. Instead, you should focus on your weaknesses too, what have you realized about yourself that you need in order to perform to your best? Do you need an involved boss? Are you bad at timekeeping? Do you need a regimented schedule?
The truth is, the idealized version of your job won’t suit you in the real world. You probably need a few non-negotiables thrown in, and if you really think about it, that’s what will help you decide what to do with your life. Deciding what you need in your ideal role will help you choose a career that suits you.
Successful people always move forward
The problem most people have is that they think once they’ve figured out what they want to do with their lives, they’re locked in forever. That’s not the case, time is shifting, and once you realize that something that interested you no longer holds interest, you’re allowed to move on. Look at the successful women around you, they probably have four or five job titles, side projects, interests, and passions. You can learn from that, you never have to stick to just one passion.
Think about where you’re going in terms of, where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? Twenty? Start the building blocks now and you’ll never regret working on yourself.
Learn from people and figure out how to move forward
I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, and when Michelle realized that her current work with its huge salary wasn’t fulfilling her, she decided (shakily) to take action. Her mother told her to earn the money now and focus on her happiness later, instead, she took a huge pay cut to feel more fulfilled and happier with her life. What she did before she found the job that made her happier was to make appointments with anyone and everyone she could and networked her way to a new position.
Michelle didn’t want to just have meals with people sleazily and ask for a job, instead, she wanted to find out how they got to where they are, if they enjoyed their job and if it made them feel fulfilled, and if they had any advice for her. People noticed she was a lawyer who hated law and seemed to want to help her get in the right direction, pushing her to meet other people who might have a job for her. This is the key in finding out what you want to do, there are so many career options that you never hear about, integral team members who work on things that you never learned about in school. The only way you’ll decide what you want to be and what you want to do, is by learning from others. Conversations will inspire you, shadowing people will light your passions. Do this, without fear, and you’ll easily figure out what you want to do.