What to do when you don’t know what to do
For those of us out there who don’t know what to do with our lives and for those of us who constantly wonder when we’re going to figure out the answer, this post might make you feel a little more hopeful.
If you ask my husband how many times I’ve asked him what I should do with my life, he’ll have surely lost count ages ago. Sometimes I’ll ask him that question and then put on my best New York accent and say “I like sports, maybe I could do something in sports?”. We both laugh and think about George Costanza from Seinfeld and the frustration he felt when trying to think up a career path for himself with the help of Jerry and Elaine. They both advised him against “something in sports”, gently informing George that you sort of have to be a sportsperson to end up in sports. The funny thing is though, he eventually ended up working for the Yankees.
There isn’t a day that goes by without me wondering privately or aloud, what I should do with my life. I must think about it multiple times a day. It’s become worse in recent years for a few reasons. One is due to the fact that I’ve realised that teaching isn’t something I can do forever as it simply isn’t stimulating enough for me to do all day for decades. The other reason is as I look around me and see the girls I grew up with having their first and second children, I see they’re moving into the next phase of their life and I feel the desire to move into the next phase of my life too. I decided at least fifteen years ago that I didn’t want children, it’s just not for me, I want to allow room in my life for meaningful interaction with the world. Even so, deciding what form that meaningful interaction will take is more of a challenge than I’d bargained for. I decided to write about it after reading a similar post from Kyeli from Freak Revolution. Have a read and you can really feel her pain, her anguish, her frustration and sense of utter hopelessness. I know I’ve felt that, I still do sometimes, but I do know that I’m now working my way out of feeling this way.
One of the main problems is that you asking the question over and over won’t help you find the answer. About the only reason to keep asking is to vent your frustration and to heighten your sense of desperation to the point that you finally make a breakthrough.
The advice I’ll give here isn’t how to find what to do with your life, but rather how to deal with the pain and despair that you’re feeling, right here, right now. It might not be easy, but it works.
Relying on your mind to find the answer to such a puzzling question is too much, almost. When your emotions reach the height of frustration and you just don’t know what to do with yourself, you have to let go, detach and release those emotions. The way I do this is I cry. Usually just before falling asleep, when it has all built up, I release the frustration by having a good cry, and that usually puts me right to sleep. When I wake up the next day I usually feel lighter, more capable of tackling this question again, and the sense of hopelessness is definitely gone. If crying isn’t for you, punch something, scream, have a tantrum, laugh yourself silly. Find the best way for you to release your frustration.
Feel your Uniqueness
The fact that you’re even asking yourself this question means you are special and unlike most people. The majority of people don’t ask themselves this question, they’re quite happy to work along within the status quo, and if they’re not happy, they will find ways to justify what they’re doing. Many people really hate their work, but instead of asking what they should be doing with their lives, they find a way to make the outcome of their work (their income) into something they can justify as being worthwhile. They might buy a larger house, another car, more clothes, a better TV, renovate another room and on and on to help themselves believe that what they do from Monday to Friday is necessary to their overall plan. That is an option that is always available to you, sometimes I think it would be easier for me to do this too. But ultimately I realise that living like this would be like living with a constant simmer of frustration.
The fact that you’ve decided against living like this and instead wish to focus your energies on designing your own life, one that is intensely meaningful, means that you are unique. Sure, that doesn’t help you with your solving your problem, but it does give you some perspective on where you are in your own personal growth and evolution.
Far easier said than done, but you have to trust that you have the creative potential to find a life that is meaningful to you. Think of it as a test, a test set by the universe. Before you can open the doors to your ultimate life path, you need to prove that you trust that a life like that even exists for you. Learn to begin to believe that the life you want is totally deserved by you. If you don’t believe it yet, act like you do believe it. When you start to do this you will know you are on the right track, you’ll be able to feel it.
Read how others have found their path, or what they’re doing to find it. If you do a search about what to do with your life you’ll find so many blog posts, courses and coaches out there, you should be able to find something to help you feel inspired. This will help alleviate the feeling of hopelessness, which is the most detrimental feeling of all. Hey, and if you’re really stuck drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do to inspire you
When you don’t know what to do for sure, try something that you think might be on the right track. For example, perhaps you think that you want to change into a different career and that you’ll need to retrain. Spend time researching as much about this new career path and the different courses available. Research the experiences of others in this field, get a feel for how well this suits you. After a week of research you may find that this isn’t for you at all, you’ll literally be able to feel whether it is right or not. This may seem like a waste of time, but the important thing is that you’ll have started some momentum and you’ll begin to feel like action is possible. From this one experience you’ll learn a little more about what you need to do, you’ll find another lead about what to do next. I’ve been doing this for awhile now and I’ve discovered something crucial to my life path, and this is that I’m a Renaissance woman and I can never be happy focussing on just one career or one talent. To be happy and meaningfully fulfilled I know I need to develop all my skills and become absorbed with a number of passions, rather than devoting myself to just one field.
It is a process of discovery, about yourself and what you want. It’s not as simple as taking a career test. It is a process of trial and error. It is a journey. We’ve been taught that we should have this figured out for the most part by the time we leave school, which is completely ridiculous. It is natural to feel frustrated and despairing. But when you start to feel hopeless, try the above, over and over, and see how you begin to move forward and how you begin to feel excited about the journey again.