Let’s make a bet.
I’m going to make a statement. If the statement is true for you, you have to stick around and read the rest of this article (I’ll make it worthwhile). If the statement is not true for you, you’re free to go and read a different article. Sound fair? Here’s the statement:
You, at some point in your life, have felt like you had no clue what to do with your life.
Doesn’t apply to you? Fly free, little bird (might I suggest skipping over to How to Budget Like a Realistic Adult?).
Still here? I’m going to make the assumption that 98% of you are sticking around. I’ve never met someone who knew from the get-go what they wanted to do with their life and stuck with it all the way through to the end. But hey, it’s all good! We’re going to go over a few things in just a second that will help you connect all the dots. By the end of this, hopefully, you can figure out what to do with your life!
The first step
I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago entitled How to Switch Your Career Path in Your 20s. In that article, I talk about finding the intersection of your passions and your heartbreaks. I won’t go into too much detail since you can go on over to that article to get into the nitty gritty, but I’ll give you the big picture.
Basically, your perfect life path resides where the things that make you extremely happy and the things that make you really sad meet. Let’s say you are passionate about children and you are completely heartbroken by poverty and broken families. Hey, looks like maybe teaching in an under-served area would be great for you. Or possibly working for a non-profit organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Figuring out what you’re passionate about and what you’re sad about is a great place to get the brain juices flowing when it comes to figuring out what to do with your life.
You have to know yourself before you can know what to do with your life
Another thing I would highly encourage you to do would be to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. Humanmetrics.com has a great free version. The test is 64 questions long and will take about 10 minutes to complete. Answer everything completely honestly, even if you don’t particularly like the answer. When you’re finished, the site will give you your results in the form of a 4-letter acronym.
I personally am an INTJ and consistently get this result. Don’t worry if you don’t know what the letters stand for. You don’t really need to understand each individual letter’s purpose so much as the way they all combine to make your unique personality. Underneath your initial 4-letter type, there are links you can explore that will help you understand your personality type further. These links are things such as a detailed description, famous people with your personality type, and *drumroll* career choices for your type!
Be careful with this, though, as the career choices the website recommends may not fit you as a person even though they fit your personality type. As an INTJ, my career recommendations are often things like a scientist, computer and software engineer, or lawyer which are all careers that do not appeal to me. Your career recommendations might be a lot more appealing to you. But certainly, don’t let your world be rocked if the test suggests you become a writer, and you don’t even like to write Facebook posts. Nevertheless, taking the MBTI test is a wonderful place to start figuring out what to do with your life. Plus it’s fun to Google MBTI movie characters and see what character you are.
Try something new
I don’t know about you, but realizing that I don’t know what I’m doing with my life was actually a pretty debilitating thing. All throughout high school, I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer. In college, I majored in graphic design. I realized in December of my senior year that while I loved designing, I didn’t want to sit behind a desk all day for the rest of my life. If you’re like me, you may also have invested a lot of time and money into the thing that doesn’t actually fit you. But it’s never too late to make the right decision for yourself! You’re not stuck no matter how much your brain may try to convince you that you are. You can always start taking some steps in the right direction.
One great way to get started on figuring out what to do with your life is to simply try new things. Hop on Groupon and try out a new activity, a new fitness class, or even a new type of restaurant. While a new Indian restaurant is probably not going to set you on the right path, it is a baby step to getting outside of your bubble. Plus, you never know; you might stumble across a cool class that leads to a ground-breaking realization about what drives you.
Another thing I’ll suggest is volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to get some hands-on experience in a world you know nothing about. If you think working with animals is right for you, volunteering at a local Humane Society is a win/win. You’ll get valuable hands-on time with animals; you’ll pick up on some savvy animal lingo, AND you’re helping out both the animals and the Humane Society. GiveGab is an awesome way to hook up with non-profits looking for volunteers. They have an iOS app that you can download here, or you can hop onto their website. Volunteer for just a few hours in a new field and you'll get a much better understanding of how it works.
The bottom line
Figuring out what to do with your life is a very personal choice (obviously). Don’t let anybody try to talk you into something you don’t want to do! After all, you know you best (especially after doing all that introspection earlier). At the end of the day, you should be doing what brings you the most joy. If you’re not happy where you’re at, switch it up! It’s ok not to know what you’re doing with your life, but it’s not ok to be miserable. Find what you love and dive in head first. You got this!
Do you have other suggestions about how to decide what to do with your life? We’d love to hear your advice in the comments below!