"What am I doing with my life?"
As a life coach and business consultant, I hear this question, or some version of it, all the time. Those who ask the question are probably facing one of two scenarios.
One, one wakes up one morning and finds himself in a job he hates, a relationship he does not want to be in, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you had imagined. You may feel depressed, full of frustration, shame or regret. This is not where you wanted to be at this moment in your life … it's not the life you wanted to live.
Or maybe you do not feel unhappy or lost, but you wake up and realize that you want something else, new or different. You may have accomplished many of the things you had imagined for your life and now you are trying to discover what do next.
My job as a coach and consultant is to help my clients to be happier, more successful. and fulfilled. To help them get from where they are to where they want to be, discovering obstacles along the way. This usually involves working through a process and asking powerful questions so that they can discover the answers to your most important questions, including this one.
One of the first things that I share with my clients is this: you do not have to find out what you want to do with the rest of your life!
You do not have to resolve what you want to be when you "grow up" or discover the purpose of your whole life. You do not have to commit to a professional career for the next 20 years. I see so many people paralyzed at the thought that they must solve everything for the rest of their lives . Of course they feel stressed and overwhelmed!
My advice? Focus on identifying what's coming . At this age, at this stage, facing your current circumstances. I'm not saying that this is not linked to a broader vision, but that does not mean that I should have the whole plan at this time. I love the MLK quote,
"You do not have to see the whole ladder, you just have to take the first step".
It is true to discover what you are doing with your life.  How to answer the question? What Am I doing with my life?
Back to the question. Let's see a couple of my recent clients.
Sabine * was an intelligent, successful and vibrant woman. She already had several successful jobs during her career, traveled the world, had a family and was settling in a new city. While she originally said that she wanted to take her business to the next level, we soon realized that it was not what she really needed or wanted.
He was trying to find out what he was doing with his life. For her, this meant realizing that she had lost her sense of self. Although no one would know from the outside, she felt overwhelmed, lost and unsure of herself. She was doing the "right" things for everyone around her, but she was not doing all the right things for her.
Together, we were able to help Sabine:
- Get a clear picture of what she wanted for this next stage of her life.
- Align your life and actions with your values and priorities.
- Remember who she was and feels more like her than in years.
- Regain confidence and act on the things she had been avoiding.
- Gain motivation, self-confidence and security in their decisions.
Then, there's Max *. Incredibly intelligent, fun and motivated, Max had successfully climbed his career and was happily married to his first child. Life was good He came to me because he was on the second stage; Max was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next . Even though I had a great job, I was looking for more, something new, different, challenging and interesting.
In our time together, Max was able to:
- Identify his priorities and what was important in this next stage of life (and what not)
- Identify several new career options / ideas
- Discover and work through old and limiting beliefs and thought patterns
- Start exploring new potential careers.
Here is the process and the Questions I asked with Sabine and Max. Following this will help you move toward identifying what you are doing with your life as well:
Step 1: What do you want?
When you look at what you're doing With your life, it's important to take a step back, see the big picture and identify what you want. Frankly, if you do not know what you want, how do you expect to get it?
This seems simple, however, it is often quite difficult to address. When I ask this question, people often tell me what they do not want or what does not work. They have acquired the habit of making decisions based on what is best for their career, family or others … and they forget to think about what they want for themselves.
Sabine originally thought she wanted to "take her business to the next level", but when she dug deeper, she realized there was much more. Finally she discovered that she wanted to feel like herself again; feel secure, trust and affirm herself, and regain her sense of self.
Max wanted to love what he was doing. I wanted to be in a career (or role) that gave him energy and "jazzed".
What do you want? Be specific
Is it a new career in which you feel excited and full of energy? A relationship in which you feel honored and loved? Be safe and happy with yourself? Live in a particular place or explore the world?
Maybe, like Sabine, when you think you have your answer, ask yourself, "what else?" And see what comes up.
Once you know what you want you can move on to the next question.
Step 2: Who are you?
I have a strong belief and a lot of experience that self-awareness and a little spiritual search is fundamental to success, especially when you try to find out what you are doing with your life.
Understanding yourself at a deeper level and making decisions based on those ideas will ensure that what you choose to do next is something that will make you happier, more successful and more fulfilled. He will make sure that his next step is a step in the direction on the right not just other step.
While I take my clients through a series of questions, here are some of my favorites:
- What is most important to you at this time?
- What are your main values? What are the beliefs, guiding principles or ideas that are deeply important to you? Which ones are you wrong with?
- What are your passions? What do you love? What interests you? What motivates you, excited, excited?
- What are your abilities and talents? What would you like to use from now on?
- What is your wish list? What do you want and need in your life / career / relationship? This may include the type of environment in which you thrive, the people you want to be around you or something you want in a role.
- What is the impact or difference you want to make? How do you do it? Do you want to serve, contribute or add value?
- What do you NOT want? While you do not want to spend too much time in this space, it is just as important to know what you do not want as much as what you do!
Also, I always take my clients the Instinctive Drives ™ questionnaire. It is a profiling tool that helps you understand what you need to be at your best. Although it is my favorite, I recommend any tool or resource that helps you get a personal vision.
In her search for the soul, Sabine identified that she needed to find and surround herself with her "people"; she discovered what she needed to feel safe; he learned that he needed to delegate more; and discovered that his direct approach stood in his way.
Max realized what was most important to him at this stage of his life, identified the limiting beliefs that stood in his way, learned to stop comparing himself with others and realized how important it was to infuse humor and joy in your daily life.
Take a journal. Ask yourself these questions and allow time and space to discover the answers.
Write everything down. Then, review what you wrote and highlight or circle what stands out or resonates the most. That is what you should pay attention to as you move forward and think about what you are doing next with your life.
Then, with a bit of introspection on your belt, it's time to move on to step 3.
Step 3: What are your options?
You're not happy where you are. You know you want something more. But what is that "something"? This question allows you to explore what your possible options are.
At this point, it's not about deciding the one thing or taking the right choice it's about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the possibilities.
If you hate your career, what new potential careers do you have in mind? If you are not happy with your relationship, what can you do? If you feel that you need a change or an adventure, what could they be?
Brainstorm ALL of your options without worrying about whether they are possible or not (for the time being). Make a list and keep asking … What else? This allows you to deepen and see opportunities that you would not otherwise have explored.
What are all your possible options at this time? Do not limit them if you can not see how it is possible, simply put all your ideas on paper.
Once you have your list of options, you can proceed to the next step.
Step 4: What are the most appropriate options at this time?
Okay, so you have your list of options and possibilities. Now is the time to reduce it and explore those options with a little more depth.
Once Max had a complete list of possible career options (including advancement in his current position), he reduced the list to the most interesting part and attractive opportunities. Then we work through each of them in greater depth.
A fantastic way to do this is to imagine your life "as if" you were in that new role / situation / relationship / option.
Max imagined living life in his new career options. First, he imagined himself as an employee of REI. Yes, he had grown his beard and was drinking from a metal cup.
But the next question was even more important. I asked him how he felt. He said that while he was excited to be outdoors more, he realized that he would not fulfill himself in that role. He definitely did not feel "excited".
We reviewed all your options, imagining how life would be in each role until you found the one that felt most connected. We both felt a change in his energy immediately … he was on the way to something.
Go back to your list of options and circle the 1-3 with which you feel most connected, energized or in contact. You want to make sure that these options fit what you want (question 1) and who you are (question 2).
Once you have a short list, imagine your life as if you took it as your next step. What would you think, feel, hear and see? Can you imagine there? It feels good? You can also do some research at this point to get more information about each of your options.
Then, armed with information and idea of the best option for you, it's time to move on to the next question.
Step 5: What's stopping you?
This is a big one. As you explore your options, you are likely to encounter some barriers.
You may have fears or limiting beliefs about what you can or can not do or about what someone said you were capable of doing. Maybe it's the lack of self-esteem or confidence. When they arise, it does not mean that the option is wrong, it just means that you need to dig a little deeper to discover what is happening. It is important to explore what gets in your way.
With Max, he was being held back by a deep belief, for a long time, that he was not good enough, that he was not able to take on a higher level and higher risk role. This was holding him back. We worked together until you could pass this perception and move on to your next step.
Think about what gets in your way or preventing you from moving forward. Once again, do not stop at your first answer. Ask yourself: "what else?" Until he identifies what gets in his way.
So, it's time to move on to the last question.
Step 6: What can you do to move forward?
You have reduced and explored your options and now is the time to take action. I know that this part is difficult.
What happens if it's not right? What if there is something else out there? What happens if it's the worst decision I make? Fix!
These are all real and good questions, but not if they prevent you from moving towards a fuller life. If you feel reluctant to take the next step, let me give you a different way of looking at it.
If you are not happy where you are now what is the largest? risk ? Stay where you are for fear of doing the wrong thing OR move on and see where it takes you? It's better to shake the boat than to die sinking into it, right?
Once you've decided, it's time to act. What is your first step? Take it.
Set a deadline, a timeline or an objective to make it happen and you can move from ideas to reality.
Make a decision about which option is best to move forward in the life you want. Then, take the first step toward that option. Then, the next and the next after that.
So, what are you doing with your life?
Just the simple fact that you wonder what you're doing with your life is a step to the right direction. A mentor of mine always said, 90% of solving a problem is to realize that it exists. You know you must do something.
Now, if you really want to move forward, it's time to take the time, try hard and answer the questions above. Then, like Sabine and Max, be willing to act, to move towards a more satisfying future, even if you are not exactly sure how it will work.
Be brave. You have this It's not too late. It's your life, and, yes, it can be everything you've imagined.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash through unsplash.com
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