What am I doing with my life? It’s such a big question to ask, but one that everyone has pondered at some point.
I know what you’re thinking. You want to wake up each morning ready to embrace the day ahead. You want to feel alive, satisfied, and empowered. You want to look back in 30, 40, or 50 years’ time and see a life well spent.
But right now you’re in a dark place. You struggle out of bed each morning with a feeling of dread at the day that awaits you. You feel empty, unhappy, and stuck. You don’t even want to think 30, 40, or 50 years ahead because all you can see is a future that’s dull, repetitive, and tragically unfulfilling.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The first step towards a life you can look forward to is one you can take today. All you have to do is keep reading, because in this article we’ll explore the path from consternation to inspiration.
If you are looking for a more career-specific article to help you figure out the best path to take in your working life, you’ll definitely want to check out our article that helps you figure this out.
Have You Got A Why?
Sure, it’s a bit of a cliché in the personal development bubble, but figuring out your ‘why’ or your reason for doing what you do is actually a very important part of the process.
Imagine you have a portable, personal wind turbine connecting directly into your mind, body, and spirit. Your why is the wind. Turn to face your why and your turbine rotates, energizing you as it does so. Turn in any other direction and your energy levels drop.
Figuring out your why involves identifying those things that fill you with energy. Career success, family life, hobbies, love, and personal development are just some of the most common.
Ask yourself this question: if money were no object, what would you be doing right now?
Your answers will provide a window into your why. If, for example, you would be sitting on a beach with a cocktail in one hand and a good book in the other, your why involves relaxation and travel. If you see yourself running a charity for disadvantaged kids, then your why is based upon giving and helping others.
Where’s Your Focus At?
Your mind cannot be in two places at once. Your focus is limited and you choose what you do with yours as each second passes.
When you focus on your why, when you turn those turbine blades towards the wind, you feel enthusiastic, content, determined, and calm. Focus elsewhere and you risk feeling run down, unhappy, and stressed.
The question “what am I doing with my life?” only ever occurs when you are not focused on your why. Your attention is so taken up by other things that you are unable to replenish your stores of energy. The longer this goes on for, the more you begin to question your direction of travel.
You find yourself having a grumble about your past circumstances and the choices you made that have led you to this point. You lose sight of the good in your life and the potential for this to grow.
Stop. Please. You’re not doing yourself any favors.
Consider your thoughts for a moment. What are you thinking about most? If it’s not your why, no wonder you’re feeling a bit existentially unsure.
What you spend time thinking about is a choice you have the power to make. Choosing to spend more time focused on your why is a sure-fire way to feel better about your life.
What Do You Already Have In Your Life?
Your why already exists in your life. All you have to do is take a good look and realize that it’s there.
Remember, your why is what energizes you, and everyone gets energized from time to time. Take note of what you’re doing and who you’re with when you feel this surge in energy; this is the essence of your why.
Maximizing this why comes down to recognizing its existence and being grateful for it. Never take for granted the moments when you feel most alive.
But it doesn’t stop at what you’ve got now…
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What Do You Want Less/More Of?
To help you figure out where to place your focus, you must first figure out two things: what you want less of and what you want more of.
You should have a broad ‘why’ in your head by now, but it helps to get more specific. Develop a more detailed picture of what does and does not constitute the life you’d like to lead and you can begin to shift your focus in the right direction.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen and draw a vertical line down the middle of the page. In the left hand column, write down all of the things that you want less of in your life. Likewise, list the things you want more of in the right hand column.
Work stress, financial worry, health problems, and relationship trouble are examples of things that might go in your “less of” column. Time with kids, holidays, meaningful friendships, and peace of mind might go into your “more of” column.
Keep this piece of paper on you, or put it somewhere prominent where you’ll see it often. Make a choice to think less about the things on the left hand side, and make a choice to act in a way that will bring you the things on the right hand side.
Now this is very important, so pay attention: you should NOT focus your thoughts directly on the things you want more of, but rather on the things that can bring them to you. Dwelling too long on the things you want more of isn’t a proper alignment with your why because you become fixated on what you do not have rather than what you DO have.
Your why is both real and in your head. When you experience your why directly, it invigorates you. When you are unable to be one with your why, you risk feeling deflated – if you allow your mind to dwell on this lack of why.
Instead of getting bogged down in negative thinking about your lack of why, think about all of the positive action you could take to align with it again. Each action you take should become more enjoyable as you turn bit by bit towards the wind and your turbine blades begin to spin faster and faster.
Who Are You Trying To Impress?
One thing to consider carefully is whether the why in your head matches the why in your heart. Your head can deceive; it can persuade you that you ought to be aiming for one goal simply because it is what others expect of you. Your heart does no such thing.
Keep asking the question as you go about taking action to align with your why: who am I trying to impress?
If your aspirations involve impressing others and making them envious/proud of you, then you are miscalculating the direction of your wind. If each step you take towards some end goal is not giving you more and more energy, then it is not the right goal to chase.
Don’t let other people try to dictate your why – they will almost certainly get it wrong. Only you know what your heart desires and this is what matters most, not the wishes of some family member, friend, or society. They may be disappointed if you take a different path to the one they have chosen for you, but if they truly care about you, they will soon come round as your eyes shine bright with passion and vigor.
What are you doing with your life? Perhaps it’s time to ask a different question: what is your why and what can you do to connect with it? If you’re feeling a little desolate and lost, don’t beat yourself up about it; everyone gets this way at some point. Just remember that your focus is a powerful tool in escaping the rut you’re in. Turn in the right direction and you’ll have so much energy, you won’t know what to do with it. Let this be the motivation you need to begin the journey of discovery that will ultimately lead you to a sense of contentment.