I don't know what to do with my life!
Scary, isn't it? Not only that but it's not just a young person’s problem.
Finding yourself at a crossroads can happen at any point in your life.
Think about it: going back to work once children are in school, being laid off, surviving a life threatening illness, death of someone close. They all trigger moments of deep introspection. Anything can trigger that moment in your life when you say, ‘is this all there is?'
In my case, all of my life was busy and rewarding and then I retired at 53. I found myself playing cards one day with friends and as I glance around the table I’m suddenly struck by that very thought.
Is this all there is?
Just think about it. At the time my mom was 85, I was 53…so assuming her good genes and overlooking my bad habits, there's a good chance I had at least 32 years ahead of me… Whaaat? 32 years of playing cards? I don't think so!
Well…good news and bad news. Finding yourself in that place really sucks. Big time.
But the amazing thing is, you now have a tremendous opportunity to unleash your forgotten, hidden, little-known or lost desires.
Do you see how huge this is?
You can do a deep dive into what is important to you and come up with a life-changing path forward that will reward and satisfy you on a level you never would have expected.
Another Word for Motivation
When you're passionate about something, you're motivated and you find what you do rewarding.
To be clear, feelings of gratification and satisfaction are individual. Replotting your path does not mean (necessarily) that you will plan to scale Everest or undertake a major career shift. You may realize that volunteering one morning a month in a local library will bring you closer to your personal values and that you feel tremendous for it.
Like I said, each person has their own path, their personal barometer to gauge fulfillment.
So, here is what this post is all about: a comprehensive resource to guide you through solving the frightening dilemma: I don't know what to do with my life.
How is it set up?
First, 2 great posts to start the process by posing questions you need to ask yourself.
That may do it for you and you're off to the races.
Of course, like anything, some questions lead to others and we don't always have answers.
Don't worry. I've got you covered.
I've included top resources from which you can pick and choose depending upon your needs.
Finally, I've summarized all the recommended books, videos and courses from the links in one handy spot. (I have an affiliate relationship with some of the resources which means if you decide to make a purchase through one of the links provided, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please do not spend any money unless you feel you need it or that it will help you achieve your goals.)
What do You Want?
Make some time to ask yourself some soul searching and practical questions.
While there are some great posts out there, the reason I like this one is because I tend to be very practical and want to see things in black and white. The questions asked here are politely in your face and get you to dig deep.
There is also this post which adopts a more intuitive approach which will suit many while still including some practical questions to consider.
10 Life Purpose Tips to Help You Find Your Passion –Jack Canfield
We all learn differently and if you're the sort who likes to jump in with both feet, you can join this free webinar.
Need More Help?
“I dunno.” That's a legitimate response to doing a deep dive into your heart's desire.
Would you like to know more?
The following resources will help you find and develop the skills you need to answer any of the questions you may be struggling with. that have come up so far.
1. Find Your Values
If we live our values, we are buoyed by purpose and motivation. Do you feel like I do about living close to our values? If so, you'll like this post because it outlines a simple and sequential process you can easily follow to find and embrace your values.
How to Live Your Truth: Identifying Your Values and Mastering Mindful Living –Mellis O'Brien
Generally, it's considered a good idea to come up with your own values, but if you want a list of values to help you identify your own, here are two resources:
This one will do for most: Core Values List –James Clear includes 50 common personal values.
If you want the whole enchilada from which to pick, this list includes over 200 core values:
2. Get Out of Your Own Way
Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. –Marie Curie
Let's face it. Change is scary. We all have baggage that gets in our way. If we can figure out how to stop being insecure we can kick fears to the curb. I like this post because it breaks fear into segments and provides solid advice in each area.
13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride –Mandie Holgate
3. Find Your Anger Point
Do You like hurting other people? I don't and I'm sure you don't. But, it can arise so easily. Getting anger under control is one thing. But, is it under control or repressed anger? It's not enough to know what pushes your buttons.
Finding out why you get out of control is an eye-opener and puts you on a much healthier path. (Might also save you from court-mandated anger management classes 🙄
4. Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: Which are you?
Your attitude towards learning is a deal-breaker. The right mindset works. If you are close minded, well, sorry to say you're setting yourself up for failure. The good news it, we are not stuck with our ‘fixed mindset.'
I like this one because I wrote it 😉 Seriously, it is a good summary and a how-to on developing a growth mindset.
If you want a really deep dive, this post is excellent. A Complete Guide to Changing Your Fixed Mindset into a Growth Mindset –Scott Jeffrey
As parents and grandparents, cultivating a growth mindset for kids is one of the best life skills you can give them. Here's a great help: How to Teach Growth Mindset to Kids –Rebecca Louick
Want some inspiration? These growth mindset quotes will add some gas to your tank:
20 Inspirational Growth Mindset Quotes That Will Change Your Life — Gill Crossland-Thackray
5. Deal With Difficult Emotions
I am skilled at beating myself emotionally. How about you?
To be honest, dealing with difficult emotions by learning mindfulness practice has been life changing for me. Do yourself a favour and don't skip this one. It includes clear, step by step instructions. The info graphic is excellent as well.
6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions — Toni Parker, Ph.D
I found these two videos very helpful. I'm a big fan of Tara Brach as she explains things so clearly.
Tara Talks: Emotional Storms ( 3 min) –Tara Brach
TaraTalks: Meditating with RAIN (12 min)–Tara Brach
6. Developing Focus
You already know that focus is key to so many aspects of our lives–the quality of our relationships and how productive we are to name but two. What's more, our ever-diminishing attention spans due to social media and a world of sound bites. So, with that in mind, here's some help.
This first post provides a great overview and some practical things you can do to improve your focus.
7 Useful Tips for Improving Your Mental Focus –Kendra Cherry
If you want an array of exercises to strengthen attention, this post provides a good list of activities.
7. Set Your Path to Self Improvement
Simply stated, self growth is a life-long process. If you are not sure how to go about putting together your personal development plan, this is a super post for you. Turn All Your Dreams Into Reality With A Personal Development Plan –Brian Tracy
8. Build Habits that Last
Ok, confession time. I am great at starting things, not so great on going the distance with them. I'm now a serious student of James Clear on this.
So what can you do to unearth your passions? One suggestion is find to start doing some volunteer work.
10. Summary of Resources:
In my opinion, a mega list of resources is overwhelming which is why this is short. I've captured the various books, courses and videos from the links provided so you can see them all in one place here and figure out where to go.
Mindfulness for Creativity, Danny Penman
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Carol S Dweck
Tara Talks: Emotional Storms ( 3 min)
TaraTalks: Meditating with RAIN (12 min)
You Can Figure Out What to Do with Your Life
Don't look at your watch and decide you'll have this figured out in the next 2 hours. Cut yourself some slack. You're starting on a journey of discovery.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. All you need to do is start. The key success factors all lie within you. Whether you work your way through the questions sequentially or jump around here and there matters not. Whatever suits your style.
If your starting point is “I don't know what to do with my life” then you have a blank page to work with. It's kind of liberating if you think about it.
Write some thoughts down. Allow them to simmer in the back of your mind as you do other things. Come back later and have a second look.
And, should you feel you need to step back and take a breather here are some supporting resources for you:
Some motivational words:
Pick the Brain, 29 Quotes that Will Inspire You to Reach Your Greatest Potential–Steve Bloom
And now, over to you!