I know I am not alone when I say there are times when I feel completely lost in life. We all go through periods where we ask ourselves, “What next?” You don’t know what to do, where to go or how to figure it out. It’s scary and confusing, and it can result in large amounts of anxiety and depression. We wonder who we are suppose to become. We search for our purpose. We long to find the things we are passionate about. But you don’t get to decide when you’re going to find all the answers, they always appear on their own time. Life is unpredictable – and that’s an understatement. The ups and downs prepare us to find these answers. The problem is, we often struggle to accept uncertainty especially when it comes to the direction of our lives. We have this assumption that we are suppose to have it all figured out by a certain age. We look at those few people who have known exactly who they want to be since they were a kids, and we envy them. The truth is you’re not supposed to have it “figured out”. Even those people who know have found their passions don’t have it all figured out. Everyday we move one step closer to finding out who we are and what our purpose is. We can’t rush our journey. The truths about ourselves and our paths will be revealed to us in due time. Luckily, there are some things you can do in the meantime that may help the process and allow you to figure out what your next step in life should be.
- Make a list of goals
You might not know exactly what you want to do in life, so focus on the things you want out of life instead. Don’t worry about the how right now, just concentrate on the what. What do want? Make a list of all the things you see yourself having in life. I don’t mean just materially, but emotionally, physically and spiritually as well. If it helps, categorize the list into parts: Career, Health/Body, Relationships, Desires, Material Things, etc. Write down all the things you want from that category of your life. For example, you may not know what career you want, but you might have an idea of the things you want out of a career. Do you need to be in charge? Do you need to feel like you are helping people? Do you prefer to work alone or on a team? Ask yourself these types of questions for each category and list all the things you require to be happy in that aspect of your life. This will help you better understand yourself and learn what fulfills you. This self-awareness allows you to acknowledge what opportunities are best suited for you.
- Try new activities
We should always be trying new things out. We are ever-changing creatures, so what didn’t appeal to you before may be something you love now. As kids we are given the opportunities to do stuff just for fun. When we become adults, we are under the impression that any time spent on frivolous activities is wasteful. What we don’t realize is that experimenting with new hobbies can be the key to finding your purpose. Explore your untapped talents. Pick up a new hobby. Learn a new skill. There is no harm in trying something new. You may love it, you may hate it. Either way, you will be one step closer to knowing yourself.
- Meet new people
It’s easy to become antisocial nowadays when we have a mini-computer (a.k.a smart phone) on us at all times. We are able to constantly distract ourselves with the internet and media. And if you’re not that outgoing, this seems like a great alternative to awkward social events. Unfortunately, being an introvert does not really help with finding your path. Although it is absolutely necessary to spend time alone, it is equally important to interact with others. Meeting new people from different walks of life can be so eye opening. You can learn something new about the world and about yourself by meeting new people. You may discover a way of living or a career that you never knew existed. You may find a love for something that you hadn’t ever really thought about. Exchanging ideas with others is group brainstorming. You may be on the brink of a discovery but you find you were missing one piece that someone else reveals to you. It’s quite amazing what we can do when we put our minds together. My experience is that most people will happily engage in a conversation with you, it just takes someone making the first move. Try joining a group or club. Or, going off the previous bullet, try a new activity that involves a group. It’s harder to make friends when we are adults. It’s not as easy as sharing a box of crayons anymore. You have to make the effort! I promise, it’s worth it.
- List your likes and dislikes
Similar to the goal list, this exercise will allow you to discover what makes you, you. Write out all of your likes – all the things that bring you happiness and peace. Next, write all of your dislikes. This is equally important. Write those things that make you feel negatively or drain you emotionally. What rubs you the wrong way? Now with each of your likes and dislikes, try and figure out why. This can help you when creating your goals list. Our likes should be aligned with our goals. Our goals shouldn’t involve any of our dislikes. Use this list to figure out which activities may call to you and what situations to avoid.
- Be patient
The last step to finding your purpose is to wait! It sounds the easiest, but it can be the hardest part of the journey. The uncertainty can cause so much stress and anxiety as you wonder what your future will hold. But worrying about the future doesn’t help it move along. Time cannot move faster no matter what you do. So stay patient! Do the things you can to assist in finding your purpose but don’t kill yourself by stressing about it. Don’t compare your process to anyone else’s. Everyone’s journey is specifically designed for them. Respect your individual path to success. There is a reason why you haven’t figured it all out yet. We each have to go through different struggles and life lessons before we can be prepared to have our passions revealed to us. Life is not about reaching the end destination, but enjoying the journey itself. We are only given as much as we are ready to master. So be patient with yourself and your life. Enjoy every second of the present by practicing mindfulness. Avoid dreading about your future. As long as you continue to grow and learn, you will undoubtedly find your purpose.