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  1. Blog
  2. Career Development

Help! I Don’t Know What to Do With My Life

Is it time to panic yet?

Woman looking out of a window
Photo courtesy of Caleb George

If you’re feeling lost, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In fact, 67 percent of Americans don’t have a plan for their life.

We’re here to help, but more importantly, we’re here to remind you that it’s okay.

Life’s a journey, so don’t fret about the destination. Check out this advice for figuring out what to do with your life, but remember not to worry too much if you’re not miraculously enlightened.

Help! I don’t know what to do with my life

That’s alright. Remember, there’s no single blueprint for life. Whether you’re in college questioning your future (44 percent of undergrads don’t know what industry they want to work in) or you’re 20 years into a career wondering what the next step is, it’s normal to not have all the answers.

If the uncertainty of your future troubles you, we’ve got some advice for finding your passion.

Ask yourself what you want

Before you start looking for what to do with your life, take some time to consider what you want.

From a career perspective, this could include deciding that you want to work in management, or that you want to work for a company whose mission you believe in, or maybe it just means making more money, or that you want to go back to school and change careers entirely. This is up to you.

Maybe you’re not in your dream job yet‚ or maybe you are, and it’s not what you thought it would be. That’s okay: What you do with your life is not limited to your job.

What you do with your life is far more than what you do for work

You are not your job.

In your personal life, you might have some goals or hobbies you want to make a success of. Perhaps you want to deepen your relationships, improve your mental health, have more free time, become an incredible gardener, write a book, live abroad, find your dream house, go off the grid, have children, or serve the people in your community. Maybe it’s all of the above.

These “goals” don’t have to be well-defined. Whatever you think will bring you joy, that’s what you should focus on. After all, happiness makes the world go round!

Practice gratitude

Research in positive psychology “consistently shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”

In fact, taking inventory of good things in your life can not only boost happiness, it can be a great way to work out what you want to do with your life.

If you already know what you love, you’re one step ahead. If you don’t, that’s okay too. Think about your hobbies: Do you love to read? Are you a budding artist? Perhaps you’re a keen Sudoku expert. What about the last time you felt really deep joy: Do you love being a mom? What about spending time outdoors? Do you love teaching or coaching? Or, ask for some help to find your talent.

Chances are, you can use the things you’re passionate about to help decide where you want to take your life.

Read more:The Dream Job Isn’t a Myth, but It’s Not as Dreamy as It Appears

Explore the world

When you don’t know what’s out there, it’s hard to know what you might want to do with your life. That’s why exploring the world around you is so useful.

What that looks like can be different for everyone. If wanderlust has you in its clutches, go and explore another country, but if you’re more of a homebody, venture out into your community. You might find something you didn’t know existed that sparks desire or an idea. Or, you might not, but at least you’ll have some great stories to tell.

Read more:8 Career Quizzes to Help You Choose a New Path

Prepare to fail—and reframe your thinking

Chances are, you’ll find yourself at a dead end or two when you’re trying to find the right path. You might undertake a new venture, only to realize three months later that it’s not for you. Or, you might be adamant that your future lies in a certain area, but you can’t break into it as easily as you’d hoped.

Don’t give up.

If you try something new and it doesn’t work out or you decide it’s not for you, you haven’t failed—you can now just tick one more thing off your list. It’s not failure, it’s learning.

Read more:How to Find a Job You Love (No, Really)

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