Eight Tips to Help You When You Don't Know What to Do With Your Life

Doubts about your future are actually valuable as they help transform your life and direct you towards happiness. These eight tips will help you find your way.
Eight Tips to Help You When You Don't Know What to Do With Your Life

Last update: 09 December, 2021

Follow your dreams. Go your own way. Do what you love. How many times have you heard or read things like this? Indeed, while they’re wonderful ideas, they mean nothing if you haven’t exactly defined what your dreams are yet and you just don’t know what to do with your life.

Doubt is the eternal leitmotif that appears frequently throughout your life. It doesn’t matter whether you’re twenty or sixty years old, that unfathomable void still appears like a shadow on the horizon, often exposing you to suffering. Furthermore, when you don’t know which direction to take, what to choose, or what to hold on to often means that you end up doing just one thing. You improvise rather than shape a meaningful life for yourself.

However, the raw material from which you redirect your existence actually comes from those moments of doubt. Those moments where you find yourself stuck in feelings of insecurity and you’re left to simply reflect on your situation. Indeed, it’s in those moments that, little by little, you commit yourself to a renewed purpose and set yourself some new goals. As a matter of fact, sometimes, all you need is a moment of rest before taking on a new challenge.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

-Reinhold Niebuhr-

When you don’t know what you want to do with your life, remember, don’t give in, and don’t waste time regretting or feeding your own frustration. Just take a deep breath and follow our eight tips. The change you need is within your reach but you must first know how to direct it.

Eight tips for when you don’t know what you want to do with your life

One of the best answers to the question of what to do with your life comes from the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. In fact, it’s worth reflecting on his words. They’ll help you think about the steps you should take to help you cope a little better with those moments of existential fear and doubt.

Let the youthful soul look back on life with the question: what have you truly loved up to now, what has elevated your soul, what has mastered it and at the same time delighted it? Place these venerated objects before you in a row, and perhaps they will yield for you, through their nature and their sequence, a law, the fundamental law of your true self. 

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1. Develop a vision of your life in five years time

The world is full of opportunities. However, when doubts and insecurities arise, you actually stop yourself from achieving happiness. Changing your day-to-day for the better implies choosing a destination first and taking a step toward it. Therefore, to know what you want to do with your life, you must first define what type of destination you want for yourself.

Whatever your situation, imagine for a moment that all your dreams in recent years have come true. Grab a pencil and paper or open a text document on your computer and write down everything you can think of about this imaginary life. Write for ten minutes (use a timer) about things like what time you get up, how much money you make, what your job’s like, what kind of people you interact with, what your house is like, what car you drive, what you eat, what kind of life you lead, and how you feel.

Those ideas that you’ve written down are actually your real goals.

2. Read, connect with your environment, get inspired, be receptive

Reading a good self-help book can be incredibly powerful, as long as you’re able to put into practice the ideas that you find there. However, reading alone means nothing if you don’t apply the advice you uncover.

It’s also essential that you begin to apply adequate mental, emotional, and experiential openness. Relate and connect with people and your environment. Open your heart and your senses to hide your fears and allow new things to come along. Those that inspire you and invite you to project new paths and higher goals.

3. Participate in volunteer work: a way to give meaning to your life

Participating in volunteer work will allow you to meet interesting, motivated, and positive people. In addition, it’ll help you discover deeper aspects of yourself, those that often help you to give more meaning to your existence. In fact, if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, this step can often be extremely cathartic, liberating, and fulfilling.

4. Find a passion

There must be something you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve never had the courage to see it through. There might be various reasons for this, ranging from “I don’t have time” to “What will the others say?” to “How can I do that at my age?”. If you find yourself frequently telling yourself things like this, do a mental reset and stop saying them.

Life must be lived with passion. Only in this way does its true meaning appear. Only in this way can you savor it with your body, mind, and emotions.

5. Learn to make decisions

When you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it means a certain element of your personal growth is failing. With this, we mean your inability to make decisions. You find it difficult and doubts and insecurities arise. In fact, you have so many fears that, in the end, you decide nothing and choose to stay in the place where nothing new ever happens: your comfort zone.

  • When you don’t know which direction to take, and what to do or what not to do, try using Edward Bono’s Six Thinking Hats approach. Analyze the situation from multiple points of view, including rational, emotional, intuitive, creative, positive, and negative perspectives.

6. Respond fearlessly to the question “what do I want to do?”. Learn to clarify

Dare to answer without any limits the question “What do I want to do with my life?” Don’t hold back. Don’t make excuses. Responses such as “I’d like to do that but I can’t because…” aren’t valid. Answer truthfully and confidently without using the conditional tense. Because it’s as important to clarify your objectives as to know how to make decisions. Tell yourself:

  • I want to be happy.
  • I want to feel self-sufficient.
  •  I want to work on what I really like
  • What I want the most is to see my family and friends happy, so I know that I must make changes in order to give them the best of myself.
  • I want to move up the ladder in my job.

7. Identify your fears

What is it that scares you? Admit your fears. When you face them, you also outline certain relevant aspects of your character. This generates in you a great feeling of self-confidence, the same one that arises when you’re brave enough to tell a friend about them.

Woman facing her fears

In addition, by identifying these fears you can also investigate their origins. As a matter of fact, they’re at the root of many of your underlying problems, those that you ignore. These are the same ones that leave you adrift and slow down your personal growth. This isn’t an easy exercise , but it’ll help you in a really positive way.

8. Your current suffering isn’t a state, it’s a process prior to a change

When you don’t know what you want to do with your life, you suffer. Because it’s distressing to feel so empty with an absence of purpose and meaning. In fact, it’s as if the rest of the world knows which way to go but you’re stranded like a rusty old ship that’s run aground. However, whatever happens to you, good or bad, remember that it’s just a process, not an enduring state. Understand that everything comes and goes, and, ultimately changes.

What you can start to do is to see your doubt as a stage from which you can learn. It’s like taking a step backward in order to gain more momentum for your giant leap forward. Remember, change is just around the corner, you just have to trust yourself and your capabilities.

Finally, follow the steps above and introduce them as a habit in your routine. Although you won’t see immediate results, when you least expect it, they’ll appear. It’ll be well worth the wait.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.