“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Throughout the course of our childhood, we get asked that question over and over again. For some of us, the answer changed every few years. For others, we always knew what we wanted to be.
Back then, it was simple. Having a dream was normal, it was encouraged.
But after a few decades of life filled with failures, missteps, and disappointments it seems hard to have that same childlike excitement. You’re probably worlds away from where you thought you would be as a child and have no idea what you want in life anymore.
Even if you’ve achieved a few goals, it just doesn’t feel the same now. Instead, what it feels like is waves of sadness, and that tiny voice in your head telling you that you’ll never be able to achieve it anyway, so why even bother?
Though you may feel alone, millions of people feel this way daily.
But the fact that you’re searching for the answer online means that you’re already on the way to beating this rough patch. What do you do when you don’t know what you want in life anymore?
Put simply, you find yourself. And you can only find yourself after some serious self-examination. Cause nobody doesn’t know what they want to do with their lives. We always know.
What we don’t know is if what we want to do is possible, so we dismiss it and stick to playing the small, “safe” game.
Let’s take a look at a few questions you need to ask yourself if you want to rediscover your purpose in life (as well as muster up the motivation to achieve it.)
“What do I really love doing?”
Getting to the core of what really lights you up inside is the first step to figuring out where to take your life when you feel like you don’t know where to go. To answer this question, you’re going to need to do more than just think about what makes you happy.
Instead, spend some time thinking in a quiet place with a pen and paper. Try to cycle through each period of your life — childhood, your teen years and adulthood — and see what theme you can pick up. What activities did you genuinely enjoy? What do you wish you had dedicated more time to when you were younger? What chances did you miss?
Finding out what you really love will give you immense clarity, and will help you move on to the next step.
“What do I really hate about my life right now?”
In the same way that you need to reconnect with what you loved doing at different stages of your life, you ought to figure out what it is that is presently demotivating you.
Feelings always have a root cause. Whether we like to admit it or not, things like a job that we aren’t passionate about or a living space that sucks the life out of us can completely warp our worldview.
Think about your life seriously, including your day-to-day actions and things you might consider “out of your control.”
What aspects of your life do you really hate?
What would be the first thing you’d change, if you could?
Don’t hold anything back, and allow yourself to really dive deeply into how you feel, even about things that may feel forbidden. The answers to this question might surprise you.
“If I had nothing holding me back, what would I spend my life doing?”
After you’ve figured out what you love doing, and the areas of your life that aren’t making you happy it’s time to look at things through the lens of change. Use your imagination, and draw on some of the things that you discovered by answering the first question.
If you didn’t have debt and loans to pay, what would you spend your life doing? What would make you excited to wake up every morning?
What ideas do you have that you’d like to bring to fruition? By spending the time to think about the answer to this question, you’ll be able to tap into what you truly want out of life.
When I die, what will they say in my obituary? What do I want them to say?
This last question is scary, for a number of reasons. We only get one chance on this earth. We only get one life to enjoy, and a limited number of years to accomplish the goals and dreams that we have.
Sometimes we lose sight of that, but it is something we ought to constantly think about.
Spend some time in solemn thought and think about this: Based on the life you’ve lived up until this point if you were to die tomorrow what would they say about you in your obituary?
Will they be able to say you’ve impacted the lives of others? That you spent the life you had dedicated to a cause? Will you be remembered as someone who treasured family and left a legacy worth talking about? Or will you have nothing to show?
Ten chances to one, you’ll want to be remembered differently from the way that you’re currently living your life — and that is exactly what it should be like. You should be pushed by this feeling to create and live your wildest dreams.
So, what do you do when you don’t know what you want in life anymore? You stop, think and ask yourself the hard questions. You do some introspection and strip away all the fear, anxiety and depression to get to the root of what is really causing your dissatisfaction with life.
Then you use the answers to spur you on as you take the sometimes hard, but always rewarding path of creating life on your own terms.
Will it be easy? Hardly. But the satisfaction will be worth all the effort.