I think we all get to a point in our life where we stop and wonder, to ourselves or another, what am I doing with my life? Perhaps this point comes at retirement when your job can no longer define you. Maybe you have just finished university and you are not sure what to do now. Perhaps you have been in the same job or field for years and it is becoming apparent that it is not what you wanted from life. You are not alone in these thoughts.
In my own life, I am constantly thinking about what I want to do with my life. What I want to do “when I grow up”. Although I might be grown now, the certainty of my direction in life is not there. I wonder if this is down to the expectation of having a set career path. I have never known what I wanted to do as a career, and that did not bother me. But because so many people define themselves by their job it feels weird that I cannot, or at least do not want to, do the same.
Recently I decided at the next social function (whenever that might be – thanks COVID) where I meet new people, I will respond differently each time to the “what do you do?” question. I will respond as a service assistant, as a blogger, as a photographer, as a pianist, as many other things too.
Embracing the fact that I can be more than one thing is helpful when I get to thinking about the direction of my life. Considering this has made me much more positive. I think the answer to this question for me is less tangible. I want to achieve many things, and experience many things. Have a good, enjoyable life. But from day to day, what I want to do can change and that is okay.
I wonder how many other people stop to ask themselves what they are doing with their life? I guess, on one level or another, we must all do it. To be uncertain about one’s life is a very human characteristic. But just because it is natural does not make it easier to deal with. This is particularly true for those of us which struggle more with answering the question.
For some, the ongoing global pandemic might have caused this question to come to the forefront. Whilst some people are managing to get by relatively unscathed, some are not as fortunate. Personal and monetary woes might have people questioning their direction, past and present.
I think given everything that is going on that now is a good time to discuss where we are all going with our existences. It is not an easy discussion to have, because the answer will be so vastly different from person to person. It also requires a lot of reflection, which some people might not be used to doing.
To answer the question of “What am I doing with my life?” you must first understand and accept that the answer if it can be found at all, is very likely to change as time goes on. What drives you in one moment might change, due to personal growth and changing opinions, due to social change, or due to unforeseen events.
I wonder if some people might find it hard to accept that things will change over time. That what they might want will change and adapt as the clock moves on. I think that it is especially important to understand and appreciate this, not only for yourself but for those around you. People grow and things change. And that, as they say, is life.
It is also worth knowing that it is all right not to have a clear picture of what you want your future to look like. Perhaps you have not worked it out yet, and that is fine. What people perceive as their future and what they end up with, in reality, are probably quite different anyway. That is also okay. In some ways not knowing might be better, as you will not be artificially tied to one big end goal. You will be free to keep exploring, growing, and experiencing new things.
Experiencing new things is a key component of growth. With this growth will come a better understanding of what you want to do going forward. There is so much to experience and learn out there is this big world – and beyond in the stars! Deciding what you want to do with your life without seeing what is on offer can be, in some cases, a mistake. Anecdotal stories of older generations waking up and believing they have wasted their life are not hard to come by.
But just because you might be older does not mean it is too late to experience new things and to set a new path. Whether you are 20 years old or 80, you should always keep learning, developing, and striving towards a goal or ambition. For as long as you are able you should encounter the myriad of opportunities that your life affords you. Do not decide at 60 you are disappointed with how things are going and spend the remaining 30 or more years of your life being unhappy about it – that is a third of your life!
None of us knows how old we will be when the time comes for our life to end. If this is not reason enough for you to stop procrastinating than I am not sure I can offer you anything that is. Deciding what we want to do with our life is not something that should be rushed in to, but equally, it is not something that should be put off again and again.
This might all seem a bit wishy-washy to you. Perhaps this is coming across a bit idealistic. Perhaps it is. But it can be grounded in your life quite easily. Give thought to your interests and do not settle on something because it seems the easiest option. Yes, in many cases what you want to do with your life should be realistic, but that does not mean it needs to be specific in its scope. These do not need to be SMART objectives (although this post might help you reach your goals)!
Perhaps the simplest advice I can offer is not to put too much pressure on yourself in making this decision. Remember that you can always change your mind! As you go about your life, you will be subject to new things which will continue to shape you.
What do you think about this? Have any helpful tips or personal experiences you can share? Post them in the comments sections below!