No matter how different, our lives are busy and demanding. Sometimes, going with the hustle and bustle of our tasks and accomplishing our daily routines can get the best of us.
No matter where you are in life—in your 20s and moving out without a plan, in your 30s and rethinking your career, in your 40s with everything you thought you wanted, or in your 50s wanting to start all over— you might encounter something that makes you take a step back and think, “I don’t know what to do with my life.”
Whether you want to make a change or seek clarity and direction, this guide will help you get unstuck and redirect you toward becoming your best self.
Why You Might Feel Stuck in Life
Feeling overwhelmed or stuck in life is often confusing. At one point, everything might be going well. And at another, you might feel like you’re on autopilot, blissfully unaware that everything in your life is already piling up into a mess.
Often, not knowing how to decide what to do with your life can be caused by one major event or an accumulation of smaller ones. Regardless, Being able to point out these reasons can help you know what you’re facing and how to overcome it.
While there are many reasons why you might feel stuck in life, the following reasons are some of the most common causes that lead to feeling overwhelmed and feeling stuck:
- Past traumas/unhealed emotional wounds
- A big change in life (new job, moving homes)
- You seem to have everything you wished for
- You stopped wanting the thing you thought you wanted the most
These are just some of the many things that might make you think, “What should I do with my life now?” If you’re experiencing any of this, remember that setbacks are a natural part of life. In different ways, we all experience ups and downs in our lives. And while you might feel lonely, you must trust yourself and your instincts during these difficult times.
7 Things to Remember If You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life
Asking yourself, “What do I want to do with my life?” can be a scary and broad question. Not knowing the answer can seem even more terrifying. But the good news is, as long as you continue to push through, you will find yourself again.
As you start your journey to get your life back on track, you must be patient with yourself. Keep these reminders in mind as you take each step forward:
1. It’s okay to feel clueless.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you have no idea what to do with your life, even if everybody else seems to have their lives together.
Social media, in particular, led us to believe there’s a perfect way to live: Wake up at 5 am, work out, meditate, have a full-time career, travel, and maintain a good daily routine. But as you might have already figured out, not everything on social media is accurate. We’re all just figuring things out as we go.
And even if it’s true, even if everyone else is doing well, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Life is about ups and downs. Acknowledging and accepting that you are in a rougher part of your life will take away the internal pressure and allow you to focus on realigning and figuring out what to do with your life.
2. Comparison won’t save you.
When you don’t know what to do with your life, you often feel like everyone else is moving countless steps ahead. You might ask yourself, “Why does it seem like everyone else has everything easy while I don’t have a single clue about what to do with my life?”
But you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The real question is: So what? Isn’t it better that others are not suffering the way you think you are? Is comparing yourself with someone you think is better than you doing anything but making you feel bad?
Staying in the negative mindset that paints you as a victim of circumstances will leave you feeling more self-pity and clueless about your life. Comparison will emphasize your flaws and magnify other people’s achievements. It doesn’t deserve your energy if it doesn’t help you move forward.
3. Take the first step.
There will never be a perfect moment when you are fully ready for the next step in the journey. And waiting for that perfect moment will simply leave you waiting and wandering. Sometimes, it’s not about having a plan but getting out of your comfort zone.
Always remember to stop your mind from overplanning and overcomplicating things. Instead, take the first step toward what you want. Even if you don’t believe in yourself, you will learn in the process.
4. You are your greatest ally.
We’re so used to hearing people say they are their worst critics. But you should be your greatest ally when trying to figure out what to do with your life. After all, you are all you have. Your relationship with yourself should be your best because you cannot break up or leave yourself.
Therefore, you must strive to be more confident in yourself, to love yourself, and have your future and present be in your best interests. While it may take time to figure out what you need, you need to be content with not knowing what to do right now, and as the future unfolds, you will find your answer.
5. Learn to let go.
Let go of the standards society tries to enforce and apply to you. Let go of the internal and external pressures and the societal deadlines like when are you getting married? Or when are you having kids? You don’t have to figure everything out in a snap. It’s a process, and it takes time. But you’re not a failure if you don’t know your passions or purpose.
You don’t have to be caged to whatever your potential looks like or what society wants you to be. So let these expectations go and explore the different things that interest you.
6. It’s okay to make mistakes.
We have our whole lives to make memories, make our dreams come true, and live life. It’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them, spend years building a career you later realize you don’t want anymore, or end a 10-year relationship if it’s not working anymore.
While it may be difficult, it’s better to admit that something was a mistake than to pursue something that is no longer a part of you. Don’t waste your time, resources, and opportunities; instead, find what makes you happy.
With each mistake learned, you’re going wiser, stronger, and more experienced in dealing with the same situation again.
7. Mindset is everything.
Mastering yourself and elevating your mindset will help you navigate objectivity. Objectivity enables you to accept your current circumstances while focusing on how to solve your problems.
Know that things may not work out. Learn to be okay with it. Stand by yourself even when life is not working out as you planned. Your mindset will give you the resilience you need as you discover what to do with your life.
Questions To Ask Yourself to Help You Understand What You Really Want in Life
It takes courage to fight the urge and give everything up because you don’t know what’s next. But since you’re here, you probably want to do something about this feeling. And one of the best things to figure out how to get back on track is through introspection.
Get started by asking yourself these questions that can help to decide what to do with your life.
1. How do I feel when I say, “I don’t know what to do with my life?”
Do you feel mad, depressed, or want a shoulder to lean on? Asking yourself these questions can give you a clearer idea about your current mindset. Once you know how your mind approaches your situation, you can start evaluating if your approach is helping or holding you back.
2. What would a day in my life look like if money wasn’t an issue?
For some, money can restrict people from chasing their dreams, often getting stuck in a career that leaves them feeling unfulfilled and burnt out. By getting to know what your ideal daily life looks like, you will know what seems to be missing for your next step. This vision is where you can base your goals.
3. Are my current habits made up of things that help me grow?
Our actions build up our habits. These habits can be a part of our daily routines that we already do subconsciously. So, you won’t know if your habits serve your goals unless you investigate them. Evaluate which ones to keep and which ones to change.
4. When was the last time I was genuinely happy? What was I doing on that occasion?
We should not chase happiness, but a fulfilling life has an abundance of it. What makes you happy fills your soul, grounds you to the present, and makes you feel content with life.
5. Are you at peace with who you are now?
Internal conflicts might contribute to your confusion. Without being at peace with ourselves; we might not feel satisfied even if we have the dream job, money, or other material possessions.
6. How in touch are you with your emotions?
Each of us needs a strong connection with our emotions. While not absolute, emotions play a massive role in determining what to make of ourselves. Learning to control your feelings helps you handle setbacks and to move forward.
7. Without caring about disappointing the people you love, what are your aspirations in life?
Are you living the dreams other people dreamt for you? Are you pursuing things only to impress them? Sometimes, we don’t notice the dreams we bury as we try to fit in or do our responsibilities.
Remind yourself of your genuine aspirations in life to help spark inspiration again.
8. What can I do with my life that can help me get back up starting today?
Do you want to be your best self or slowly get back on track? Every huge change can be broken down into habits you can start today.
Want to get fit? Walk for one mile today. Want to be more productive? Put your phone away.
Setting attainable goals as building blocks can be your stepping stone toward your next big move in life. Remember that no playbook teaches us “How to figure out what I want to do with my life” does not exist. While these questions can guide you, you are the only one who can figure out what to do next with your life.
Determine the Next Steps in Your Life
After tons of retrospection, it’s time to take action. Acknowledge that determining the next steps in your life is not an overnight process. Accept that it won’t be easy. Know that you might fall and fail. Then, push through anyway.
Get your pen and paper (or phone!) and start taking notes for your plan to get your life in control again. This step-by-step guide can help you know what to do when you don’t know what to do with your life:
1. Relax your mind
We make our best decisions when our minds are calm enough to think objectively. Before you try to figure out your next step, try to relax your mind. After all, have you ever solved your problems by panicking and getting stressed?
Here are some of the ways you can relax your mind:
- Jot down your thoughts and plans, even in an unorganized manner.
- Get away from what’s causing your mind to stress out (workspace, environment)
- Do mindfulness exercises (meditation, listening to calming music, walking)
2. Evaluate your life values
With a clear mind, you can identify the values that are genuinely important to you. Evaluating your life values will serve as a way to know where you want to be and what you want to do. They serve as building blocks for a more meaningful life.
Your life values might include the following:
- Relationships (family, friends, romantic relationship)
- Service to others or the community
- Balance and harmony
- Love and respect
With each of the values you have identified, list your habits that help to develop them. Then, list down actions that do not align with these values.
From there, you will quickly realize the unhelpful routines you are doing so you can work towards changing them.
3. Examine your purpose in life
Do we need purpose in life? While living without a specific goal might be possible, it helps you draw a path and know how to make the best of your life.
When you were younger, you might be carefree enough to stay incurious about your life’s purpose. But as you grow older, especially when you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, it’s natural to wonder what your life is for.
The good news is we already have our purpose in life. We just have to discover it, define it, own it, and give our own meaning to it.
Is there something you do that inspires you? Is there something you believe strongly in? Something that makes you feel alive and that your life has meaning?
Here’s what you should remember about your life’s purpose:
- Only you can define your purpose
- Purpose helps you focus on your core values
- Purpose enables you to know what to prioritize
- Purpose doesn’t have to be something big
- Purpose makes you want to go on
- We feel purposeful when we do something for the greater good
- Your life purpose can change as time passes by
4. Assess your strengths
We have things we can do well or are happy doing them. If you know your strengths, it’s easier to find opportunities where you can use them. These may be talents and skills that we naturally excel at.
One important thing to remember is that sometimes, you might need to be more passionate about your strengths. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you’ll love doing it. But sometimes, you must do things you’re not too passionate about to achieve your desired life.
Knowing how to decide what to do with your life lies in using your strengths to provide value for yourself and others.
5. Find your inspirations
Finding inspiration can help you regain or strengthen your enthusiasm for life. It will keep your mind from feeling like you’re in an endless cycle of tasks and routines.
Your inspiration can come from a lot of different places. Some of them include the following:
- Finding a mentor who has accomplished what you want in life
- Role models you personally know
- Celebrities you admire
- People who make you want to better yourself
These inspirations can also tell you what you want to do in your life. Observe their lives and take lessons from their achievements, beliefs, and how they navigate their trials. Then, apply what is appropriate for your own circumstances.
6. Explore Your Passions and Hobbies
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Find activities you can enjoy and turn into new hobbies and passions. Who knows, your next passion project could become a viable business idea.
A fulfilling life is filled with small hobbies you’re excited to do or experiences you want to try even once in your lifetime.
Always be confident about doing something new and making beginner mistakes. It takes practice and time to build your expertise. These interests could also help you find people with similar passions with whom you can share these experiences.
7. Learn High-Value Skills
Learning high-value skills and improving your existing skill set will help you stay relevant and open up more opportunities and choices on which path to take.
The digital age makes learning high-value skills much more accessible for all of us, with ample free sources available on the internet. You can also use technologies that promote productivity to learn more in less time.
Additionally, you can choose the resources you need based on how your mind best digests knowledge. Tutorials are now available as videos, podcasts, or articles. All you need to do is start reprioritizing and investing the time to learn.
8. Assess your opportunities
Knowing what opportunities you should go after is easier if you know what you bring to the table.
If you want to pursue a career, evaluate which opportunities are best for your skillset. Reach out to platforms and communities that could help you find a suitable job. Always try to align your strengths with your values and find opportunities that bring harmony to them.
If you’re trying to choose between different opportunities, ensure you’re researching and not relying on a single source. Knowing the best course to take will depend on your long-term plans. So go after opportunities that align with your strengths and values to avoid burnout and dissatisfaction with your work.
9. Improve discipline and daily habits
Discipline will save you when motivation fails you. You should be mindful of your daily habits and build the discipline to show up for yourself, especially in more challenging times. With purposeful efforts towards good habits, you can develop better routines that will become more meaningful over time.
Our daily habits say a lot about us. So choose to practice consistency while slowly pushing yourself to surpass your limits.
10. Try, fail, repeat
Knowing how to decide what to do with your life is a lifelong process. Even as you figure out what to do with your life, make it a habit to continue evaluating your dreams, strengths, and opportunities in life. This ensures you’re still on the right track.
While we always want to strive for success, don’t be afraid if you ever fail. Getting back up after failures allows us to adapt, enjoy the ups, and accept and survive the downs.
Don’t stop challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone. Grow, rest, and repeat. Know when to continue and recognize when a path no longer feels right. In time, you will grow to love yourself enough to say no and walk away from the things that no longer align with your values.
Tips to Discover What You Should Do Next With Your Life
Here are some helpful tips in going through your journey toward self-discovery:
- Try not to ask the people who haven’t been in the same place in your life – Even though these people might have your best interest in mind. It is more helpful to seek advice from people with similar experiences.
- Drown the noise – People will say something whatever you do in your life. So if you want to figure out what to do with your life, follow what you know and avoid unnecessary criticisms.
- Stay honest with yourself – All the steps you take to decide what to do with your life will not mean anything if you don’t figure out what you really want in life.
- Always be open to new perspectives – The only way to adapt to the ever-changing rules in life is to stay open to new views and ideas.
- You don’t always have to be ready to take the next step – Know when to take calculated risks, when to stop planning, and just do it. Even if it turns out to be a mistake, it will still be a valuable lesson.
- Build a routine you can stick to – The routines self-help media teaches us often won’t work with everyone. Listen to your body and build a life that works for you.
- Start small – Dreams are the big picture, while goals are its pixels. So if you don’t know how to take significant steps, always start small. Consistency and persistence work better than intense one-off efforts.
- Be patient with yourself – Set out to achieve your goals but be ready to forgive yourself if you fail. Overnight successes are made of trials and failures.
- Read, understand, and apply – Reading productivity books and other non-fiction books, such as autobiographies, will help you to learn from other people’s mistakes. Also, ensure that you’re consuming knowledge and creating opportunities to apply it.
- Don’t stop showing up for yourself – Nothing will work for you if you don’t put the work in.
I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life: Takeaway
Knowing how to decide what to do with your life is a process that involves mistakes and failures. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed thinking about your next big step, don’t forget to give your body the rest it needs. You can always try again. With our step-by-step guide, we hope to assist you in getting your life back on track and working towards your best self yet.
If you’re looking for time management courses to improve your personal development journey, look at these helpful courses.
- Best Alexa Skills for Improving Your Productivity
- 6 Aspects of Life You Need for a Meaningful Life
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- The Ultimate 9 to 5 Meal Prep Guide for Busy Professionals
Emma Collins is a tech writer for Productivity Spot. She's been writing tech tutorials & how-to guides on Windows, Android, iOS, Social Media, Data Recovery, Cybersecurity, Gaming, and more as a tech writer for over 6 years. You can find her work on many established tech websites, including Hackr.io, MakeUseOf, Help Desk Geek, Online Tech Tips, Switching To Mac, HandyRecovery, Cleverfiles, and more.