How To | Figuring Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

They always tell you to follow your dreams, but what if you have no idea what those dreams are? There are certain people who seem to always know what they want out of life. From their teen years, they found a niche for themselves and set out on a journey to accomplish their goals in order to reach that end. Maybe they set out to be dentists, doctors, lawyers, CEO’s, pornstars, housewives. Whatever it is, some people have always had a clear vision of what they want from their lives.

And then there are individuals who never really knew where they wanted to be in life. When I was growing up, all I ever really wanted to be was Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, and that was only because she had an amazing manor and gorgeous hair. Actually, it was because of Lara Croft that I decided to go to school for archaeology. I always thought I wanted to dig for lost historic treasures and go on adventures in distant countries. Well, a few of those interests still carry over these days for me. I still want to travel to distant lands and immerse myself in unique cultures, but after going to school, I realized that archaeology was never meant for me. All it consisted of was digging in the dirt and avoiding tick colonies with your trowel. Not my idea of a good time!

So I decided to change my major to anthropology, moving away from the physical labor of archaeology and more into the culture studies of people. But I soon realized that even anthropology was far from my dream job. As an introvert, interviewing people all day was nowhere near my idea of a good time. This series of realizations led me down a path that ultimately winded so far away from my original notions about life that I became terribly lost. And there I stagnated, stuck in the web of endless choices and paths which I could have taken.

When you achieve your goal and realize it’s not what you expected, what do you do? Where do you go?

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I suppose the answer to that question is to figure out what it is you really do want out of life. If it were as simple as sitting down and answering a questionnaire, I’m sure there wouldn’t be so many lost souls in this world. But it’s a good place to start!

Using myself as an example, what were some of the things I found most appealing about being Lara Croft? I liked her mansion. She had a huge house with marble floors, a garage full of classic cars, gardens where she could walk and enjoy the sun. I also loved her hair and her independence. That’s a good place to start!

Below is a series of questions you can ask yourself to figure out what sort of life you want to live. The answers can be as realistic or as fictitious as you want them to be.

  1. What job would you do even if you didn’t get paid to do it?
  2. How much money would you like to be making?
  3. Are you happy in life?
  4. What factors could increase your happiness in life?
  5. Where do you see yourself in one year?
  6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  7. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  8. What are your biggest motivations?
  9. What sort of people do you want to be around?
  10. Who inspires you, and why?
  11. Do you feel that anything is missing from your life?
  12. What is holding you back?
  13. What are you good at?
  14. What are your talents?
  15. What skills do you have?
  16. What makes you feel fulfilled?
  17. What are your hobbies and why did you pick them up?
  18. What legacy do you want to leave behind when you’re gone?
  19. What is the idea of a perfect day for you?
  20. Where would you like to live?
  21. What sort of partner do you want to have (if any)?
  22. What is on your bucket list?
  23. What choices are you torn between?
  24. What are the benefits of each of these choices?
  25. What would you add to your daily routine?
  26. What material things do you want to own?
  27. Why do you want those things?
  28. What are your strengths?
  29. What is a step you could take right now that would put you on a closer path to your dreams?

It is important to focus on your talents, skills, and strengths, but also beneficial to detail limitations as well. For example, you might want to be a massage therapist, but you might be double jointed with weak, floppy fingers. While that doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue your dream of becoming a massage therapist, it might behoove you to consider other avenues as well.

  1. What are your weaknesses?
  2. What skills do you need to develop?
  3. What are some things that You can’t stand?
  4. What behavior should you be avoiding?
  5. What don’t you want in a job?
  6. What don’t you want in a partner?
  7. Where would you hate to live?
  8. What choices are you torn between?
  9. What are the cons of each?
  10. What do you hate about your current job?

As mentioned above, if it were as easy as filling out a questionnaire, there wouldn’t be so many people feeling lost in their lives. I think a major factor in the dissatisfaction we all feel in life is partly due to the unrealistic expectations culture and media portray to us. We are led to believe that a certain type of lifestyle will make us happy, but happiness doesn’t work like that. We are all unique, and we all have different desires in life. Just because you aren’t aspiring to be a doctor or lawyer or CEO doesn’t mean your career path is somehow lesser. If it makes you happy and you can make money doing it, by all means, follow your dreams! And if you can’t seem to figure out what your dreams are, don’t worry. Not everyone has it figured out. Just try going down some of those many paths that have you feeling so stuck and who knows, maybe one of them will lead you out of the forest and into a life full of sunshine and happiness.

Take care!

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