Sometimes in life, we find ourselves at a fork in the road, at a crossroads, or on a path that appears to lead nowhere, and we say to ourselves, “I don't know what to do with my life…”
No matter what stage of life you are in, if you are unhappy with it or unsure of how to proceed, it is time to reevaluate.
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I remember thinking in high school that I needed to choose a career that would make me happy for the next 50 years or so of my life. What a difficult task. How do you know what will make you happy for the rest of your life, especially if you're only 16 and still enjoy watching “The Breakfast Club?”
You have no way of knowing. Even five years from now, you have no idea what will make you happy. But you can figure out what makes you happy right now, and if your current position — or school track — isn't it, it's time to move on.
When my oldest children were thinking about their college careers and job prospects, I often told them to just go take classes or try things they thought might be interesting, and if they didn't like the class, workshop, or whatever, to cross that off their list. Life is frequently about trying new things and discovering what you don't want to be when you “grow up.”
I substitute taught for a year to see if I wanted to become a public school teacher. I had a great time that year, but after talking with teachers and doing some of their work for a year, I realized that was not the career for me.
1. It's Fine You can't predict the entire future
Remember that you have no idea what is going to happen next. Life is full of interesting twists and turns, but pursuing things we enjoy doing, whether for a job or a hobby, will make the journey more interesting and enjoyable.
Perhaps you are currently enjoying making jewelry. You might be able to sell it. You could be a successful jewelry designer in five years, or you could have moved on to another craft. It makes no difference. You can use your jewelry design experience to help you with other projects in the future.
2. Attempt to Be At Ease With Discomfort
Life can be difficult at times. We don't always have enough money to do everything we want to do. If you really want to pursue something, you must be willing to put up with some discomfort in order to do so.
For example, I'd like to train sled dogs and compete in the Iditarod. To do so, I had to give up my neat and tidy suburban home and relocate my family to an Alaskan cabin.
We don't have running water or regular electricity, and our cabin is much smaller than our old house, but we don't mind because we live in a beautiful place and I get to pursue my dream.
3. Life Is Uncertain; Embrace It Stuff happens in life
I thought I had it all figured out. I had a wonderful job and a lovely home in the woods. Then, all in the same week, I was fired, lost my house, and turned 40. Then I discovered I was pregnant. It's been a busy week.
- I sat on the couch for a few days, depressed, but we pulled ourselves together, made a plan, and moved to Alaska.
- Take the concept of uncertainty and flip it on its head. Every calamity is an opportunity to do something good.
- Furthermore, it is never too late to change your life path when something goes wrong!
- Do you still not believe me? Here's the evidence: How to Begin Again and Restart Your Life When It Seems Too Late
4. Get Rid of Distractions and Quit Procrastinating
You aren't getting any younger. It's unfortunate, but it's true. If you don't start making time to pursue your dreams, you might end up at the end of your life with nothing but a bunch of Facebook posts and a bunch of TV shows you just had to watch.
If you are serious about pursuing a dream, whether it is designing jewelry, professional skateboarding, or becoming a wealthy and famous computer guru, you should get started right away.
Make the first move. Turn off Facebook notifications and get to work. Thinking about how great you could be will not get you anywhere.
Even better, follow these steps to stop procrastinating and start focusing on what truly matters: What Exactly Is Procrastination? (And the Complete Guide to Stop Procrastinating)
5. Pose Questions to Yourself
Make time for yourself. Pose big questions to yourself. As well as small ones.
Discover more about yourself. Meditate. Make a list of things that interest you and things you could do if time and money were not an issue. Make big plans. Relax your mind and visualize yourself doing those things.
By asking yourself meaningful questions, you are constructing an invincible Motivation Engine, and when challenges arise, you will know how to deal with them.
6. Volunteer or shadow another person
If you're interested in a job or hobby, from dog grooming to zookeeping, volunteer or job shadow to see if it's something you'd like to do.
All the daydreaming in the world won't help you if you don't get your hands dirty. Sometimes we think we want to do something, but once we try it, we realize it's not the kind of work we want to do after all.
Or it could be more complicated than we realized. Before we give up our current life to pursue a dream, we should gain hands-on experience and do a lot of reading from those who have first-hand experience.
7. Put Money Aside
If you need to relocate or return to school to pursue your new dream, it may be necessary to get a job doing something — anything — and save up enough money to do so.
I worked for many years to build my writing and editing portfolio, and now I can write and edit articles from my wee little cabin, get paid, and use the money to fund my dogsled team's equipment and food.
Wouldn't it be great to be able to make a living solely by running dogs? Sure. But it's not possible right now because I'm putting together and training my team.
I don't yet have a reputation in dog mushing, but I do have one in writing. So I work one job that I enjoy in order to pay for the other.
8. Open the Door
Opportunity may be knocking, but how can you take advantage of it if you don't answer the door? You must seize opportunities as they present themselves.
It isn't always the best time, but that doesn't matter. Opportunities arise when they arise. If you don't answer the door, the opportunity will pass you by and knock on someone else's door.
When deciding what to do with your life, the most important thing to remember is that no action is an action in and of itself. You must make choices and try new things, even if you end up disliking them or preferring to do something else.
Remember that it is never too late to start over. (Jack's story is an inspiring one about restarting one's life at a later age!)
At the end of your life, you will not be sorry for trying and failing, but you will be sorry for not trying at all.
Close that laptop and get your life together.
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