Are you wondering how to figure out what to do with your life? These days, there are more opportunities than ever for you to build an interesting and engaging career. How can you know which direction is the right one for you with so many options? For many people, there is a fear of years of money and education wasted, only to find that the job they finally landed did not turn out at all as they expected.
Choosing Goals: How To Figure Out What To Do With Your Life
Before choosing a specific career path, you must have a broader goal in mind. Ask yourself where you hope to be in 10 years. Do you want to own your own business? Do you prefer a more active environment or a quiet office setting? Do you hope to pursue research or help solve complex problems? Maybe you feel truly fulfilled when you’re interacting with and helping others.
It’s also important to consider your personal goals as well. Do you hope to have a family that you will need to care for and provide for? Do you have aspirations to live in a specific area or own a home? Maybe you want a career that gives you more flexibility to be at home, on your own, or with loved ones. These tips can help you determine what matters most to you so you can move forward accordingly.
I. Evaluate Your Life Thus Far
When you want to know how to figure out what to do with your life, you need to consider what has brought you to this point first. Sit down with a notebook or your laptop and make a list of the most significant memories in your life. These can be moments you think of with happiness, regret, nostalgia or sadness; no memory is off the table. Give yourself at least a week to ponder and revisit the list, as different moments may come to mind later.
Once you feel satisfied with your list, narrow it down to what you would consider being the three most important and influential events in your life thus far. Try to include at least one that brought you joy and one that may have shifted your outlook on something in life. Identifying the catalysts that ultimately brought about positive or significant changes in your life can help guide you toward the right path.
II. Consider What Makes You Feel Happy and Content
What do you love to do most with your free time? When and where do you feel like you’re truly thriving? The answers to these questions could be clues to the right direction as you make plans for your future. Your interests can offer much insight into who you are and how you do your best work. It’s also helpful to consider everyday tasks and activities that make you feel satisfied at the end of the day.
However, it’s important to use some caution here. Turning a hobby into a career is a serious commitment that can cause your creativity and excitement to fizzle when it becomes a requirement instead of a simple pleasure. Find ways to categorize your interests into either fun amusements or genuine passions to help you decide what’s truly worth pursuing.
III. Try Some Personality Quizzes and Tests
There’s a reason many professionals still use personality tests, career aptitude tests and skill assessments; while they aren’t a perfect analysis of a person’s complex personality, they can offer guidance on how to figure out what to do with your life. There are many free options online that can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and may even offer suggestions for potential careers. Try multiple assessments and compare the results to look for patterns in your interests, skills and strengths.
IV. Explore the World Around You
With so many important decisions ahead of you, it may not seem like the right time to try new things. However, new experiences can open your eyes to interests, passions, instincts and abilities you never knew you had. Visit new places, volunteer in a variety of venues, interact with people from different backgrounds and broaden your horizons. You may be surprised by what you can learn about yourself when you explore what the world has to offer.
V. Get Input From Others
At the end of the day, only you can decide what’s right for you. Still, it’s essential to seek advice and input from people who have the knowledge and experience to offer sound guidance. Sharing with friends is a good place to start, but it may be wise to consult with others who can provide legitimate help and direction as well.
1. Talk With an Expert
If you’re truly feeling lost and can’t seem to see a clear path for your life, it can be beneficial to talk with a licensed professional career coach, guidance counselor or therapist. These experts can help you clearly and carefully analyze your goals, interests and needs so that you can be at peace with your choices.
2. Talk With a Close Companion
While someone you’re close to may not be able to offer expert advice, it can be helpful to share your thoughts and concerns with a friend. Verbalizing is a great way to analyze and categorize your feelings and can be a critical step in the decision-making process. It’s also good to be reminded that you have support and companionship during this significant time in your life.
3. Talk With Others Searching for Answers
While it can feel overwhelming and isolating as you wonder how to figure out what to do with your life, you are not alone. Millions of people are in the same place, trying to decide what’s next. Connect with them and swap your questions and worries as you pursue a future that’s full of meaning and satisfaction. You can learn a lot from people who have a different approach to the same question.
VI. Be Honest With Yourself
It’s essential to have dreams and aspirations; these are the pursuits that keep us moving forward when life gets tough. However, you may need to take a serious look at your potential goals to eliminate what doesn’t fit your lifestyle, personality and beliefs. When you picture yourself in the future, be honest about what you see and what would genuinely make you feel fulfilled. Consider what you are and are not willing to sacrifice to get there.
Choosing a Specific Path for Your Life
Once you feel confident that you’ve chosen the right major goals, you can narrow those down into a more specific career path. This step often requires much more research and flexibility. For most people, there are many ways to reach the same destination. Deciding how to get there depends on a variety of factors.
Analyze the Education and Training Requirements
For many people, college or technical training is beneficial and opens many more doors in the future. It is often worth the time and sacrifice. However, education can be expensive and may mean financial hardships or even serious debt. This can be a major hurdle for numerous people and is an unfortunate and difficult truth.
However, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition may not be necessary for you to reach your goals. Many community colleges, technical schools and online programs can fulfill your training needs for a fraction of the cost of attending a traditional four-year college or university. Grants and scholarships can also make it possible for you to pursue your first choice for a career.
Keep in mind that more education isn’t always necessary for a fulfilling lifelong career. You may be able to go for alternatives that take less time and money to prepare for. For example, if you are passionate about working in the medical field, becoming a doctor isn’t your only option. Nurses, medical assistants, patient care technicians and phlebotomists still interact with patients on a regular basis while providing quality medical care, all with significantly less schooling.
Focus on Personal and Professional Skill Development
As you learn how to figure out what to do with your life, remember to prioritize your own personal and professional development as you go. Some skills are a necessity for certain jobs; there’s just no getting around it. This may help you know which options aren’t a practical choice for you. However, the door doesn’t have to stay closed forever. Many important professional skills can be developed with practice and time. Read books, listen to lectures, take classes and research websites that can help you build the skill set you need to succeed at the job you want.
Research Current Job Postings and Descriptions
Sometimes, a quick search of nearby job openings can help you narrow down your choices. Many postings are very detailed and offer plenty to consider, including:
- Salary or hourly pay
- Paid time off/vacation
- Necessary skills
- Everyday duties
- Experience or training required
- Typical workweek hours
This type of information can provide answers to some of your most practical questions so you can have a better feel for what life would be like in this specific career field or job.
Observe and Meet With Professionals
As you narrow down your options, consider meeting with an experienced professional in each of your top choices for a future career. Come ready with plenty of questions about what to expect in this job setting. It may be beneficial to email these questions in advance. In addition, ask if you can observe them at work or take a tour of their job site. Immersing yourself in the environment and getting honest feedback from a professional can be enlightening as you research how to figure out what to do with your life.
Try Out Your Top Interests
Volunteering and applying for internships and externships is a great way to get your feet wet when considering a specific career path. You can also look for entry-level positions that will allow you to earn some income while learning the basics in your field of interest. You should never commit to a life-altering career decision without finding some way to immerse yourself in a similar type of work first, even if only for a short period.
Learning How To Figure Out What To Do With Your Life
It’s been said that if you do what you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. While it’s true that making the right choices can give you immense satisfaction and fulfillment, it doesn’t mean that every day will be simple and carefree. Stress, hard work and overcoming obstacles are all important pieces of the puzzle that come together to form an interesting and satisfying career. Just because the path you have chosen is right does not mean it will always be easy.
In addition, keep in mind that life is full of changing seasons. There is a good chance that where and how you work will continue to shift and change over the years. What may be challenging at first will likely get easier with time or may go away altogether. New and unexpected hardships will likely arise along the way. A few bumps in the road do not necessarily mean that you have chosen the wrong direction.
Finally, remember that this might not be the final crossroads of your life. Many people change occupations several times throughout adulthood, whether they move to a different position within the same field or try a completely new enterprise altogether. It is unlikely that your first job will also be your last. As you move forward with your career, revisit the activities and practices that helped you discover your passions and identify your strengths, and adapt as you go.
Whether you are a student, a graduate or a professional looking to make a career change, FutureSprout can help you on your journey. Our expert resources can show you how to figure out what to do with your life so you can pursue your unique goals the right way.