If you woke up this morning feeling like you have no sense of purpose, well, you’re not alone. Thousands of people across the country are searching for the answer to the elusive question of “what should I do next with my life.”
There are so many factors that can lead us to ask this question. Maybe you’re young and trying to figure out that first step into adulthood after high school.
Maybe you’re in mid-life, unhappy with your job, and looking for a change.
Or maybe you’re approaching retirement and wondering what in the world will you do after your working years are done?
These are some complicated questions that most people have at some point in life. Unfortunately, most people do not take action to proactively change their course.
People stay in jobs they hate. They get educations out of pressure to conform rather than being driven by passion. They retire to places based on convenience rather than finding true enjoyment.
But it’s possible to avoid these problems by taking action today. Simple actions to clear your head and set a path can help you figure out what to do next in life.
Table of Contents
Make a Plan
If you’re not a planner by nature, then do yourself a favor and give it shot this once.
Sometimes having things written down can really help to visualize a path forward.
Start with a problem statement. Try to articulate the actual problem you are trying to solve. That’s going to be different for everyone, but finding the root cause is key to figuring out what to do next.
Then establish the goals you’d like to accomplish. These are the high-level goals, not a specific action plan. Think about what things you’d like to do over the next months and years that will drive satisfaction in your life.
Once you have a good outline, it’s time to get a specific action plan. These are the tangible things you’re going to do each day. Maybe that’s going back to school to change careers. Or maybe it could be improving relationships with loved ones.
Whatever the goal, having an action plan can really help you effectuate change.
Take a Self-Assessment
Understanding who you are can be a great starting point to figuring out what to do next in life.
One way to do that is by taking a self-assessment. There are many free assessments out there that provide a lot of value. Consider taking one as a starting point.
You’ll find many of them are related specifically to career assessment such as on the CareerOneStop website.
But if you’re stuck in life, it might be more beneficial to take a more holistic assessment.
By doing this, you can find some less obvious areas of your life worth addressing. For instance, some people become too focused on the work and finance areas of their life.
While those are important, it’s also critical to look at relationships and health.
A good self-assessment tool is going to help you look at life across all of these characteristics.
Go Back to School
It can be a daunting thought, but going back to school can be very worthwhile. Too often people get stuck in a career and just power through all the way to retirement.
But why not consider a change? There are plenty of careers that don’t require a 4-year degree. And most communities have colleges nearby and local trade schools to help get you trained in new high-value careers quickly.
It’s also a proven fact that people are working until a later age for a variety of reasons. Some are doing it for financial reasons, but others are just realizing it keeps them going and their brains active.
So if you think about working into your 70’s or even 80’s, going back to school now can still leave you with a long career in a new field.
It’s a big step, and not for everyone. But if you’re searching for something to do next, then changing your skill set may be a place to start.
Take a Course
Maybe going back to school is a little much for you to think about. So consider taking a class online as an easier first step. It’s less of a time commitment and might give you some ideas about what you’d like to do next.
The even better news is that many of these courses are free or very affordable. And we’re talking about courses from universities like the University of Michigan and other big-name colleges.
Platforms like Udacity, Coursera, and edX are changing the way people learn. You can use these platforms to take one-off classes, or you can earn degrees and certificates to add to your resume.
Get In Shape
From being overworked to not getting enough sleep, to running non-stop with your kids, and the hundreds of other things that drive stress in our lives, we all need a break.
Sometimes you just need to clear your head, and there’s no better way than staying active. There is so much going on in most people’s lives that we often forget about staying in shape.
But taking the time to improve your health and get in shape can have a huge impact. From decreased stress to increased brain function there are all sorts of benefits to getting some physical activity.
And by increasing brain function you’ll get more clarity. And in the end that can be a big factor in helping you figure out what to do next.
Start a Business
If you are feeling stuck because of your job, then starting a business might be a solution.
Let’s start by saying it’s not something you should consider on a whim. Starting a business can come with its own set of stressors. But it can also come with a great sense of accomplishment.
So if you’re ready for a challenge, and feel you have the right resources, then consider venturing out on your own.
Today there are so many ways to start a business both in the products and services space.
You can start a drop-ship business in a matter of days. And if you’d rather source your own goods, then selling on Amazon has never been easier.
There’s also a huge market for freelancers with all manner of expertise. Small businesses of all types that can’t pay full-time resources, utilize freelancers on a part-time basis to fill major resource gaps.
Chances are someone you know has gone through a similar phase of life. They’ve questioned about what to do in life, and have valuable insights.
If you can’t think of someone you know, then consider formal counselors. Whether that’s a career counselor or general counselor, there are people to talk with.
Given that you’re making decisions about the path of your life, getting advice from a trusted source is key.
If nothing else, you can ping ideas off of these people to get unbiased opinions. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of a life-changing decision we don’t see everything clearly.
Using advisors can help shed light on your current ideas, and identify other worthwhile paths.
The Bottom Line
The first thing to remember is you’re not alone.
Thousands of people across the globe are trying to figure out what to do with their lives as we speak. In fact, most people will go through the exact same process more than once in their life.
The likelihood of making all the right choices the first time through is almost impossible. That’s why we have to be willing to change. Otherwise, you leave yourself in a position of being unhappy with life.
Embrace the opportunity you have to change things. Start fresh, and hone in on the things you might love doing for the rest of your life.
So get started today. Make a plan, talk to a trusted advisor, and start to map out the steps you will take to get to the final destination.
Remember, you’re not trying to get somewhere in a week, month, or even a year. We’re talking about long term goals with small actions you can take on a regular basis.
Getting started is often the hardest part. So don’t hesitate. Pick up that pen a paper today, and get going.