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Allegedly, we’re supposed to figure out what that purpose is (sure…easy), then go forth and conquer (wow, easier!).
But what if you have no idea what your purpose is?
One thing I can promise you: you’re not alone.
Ummm… I don’t freakin’ know! If I’m being 100% honest, I don’t know where I see myself next month, let alone 5 years from now.
Of course, I have bills and a family, so I wouldn’t dare utter those words. But they most certainly sum up how I feel.
I bet you’ve felt that way too. It’s a struggle most of us millennials face, no matter what route we decided to take post high-school.
Take those of us who graduated from college, for example.
We walked towards the platform with family cheering in the background, grasped that shiny Bachelor’s degree, and crossed over to the other side of the stage, where the real world was ready and waiting to snatch that smile right off our youthful, happy-tear-streaked faces.
We panicked and we went back to school.
On the surface, it may have been easy to justify that Master’s degree. But what about the reasons you were ashamed to say out loud?
* You had been in school all your life and didn’t know what else to do.
* You couldn’t find a job after graduation.
* Going back to school is what you’re “supposed” to do. Plus all your friends were doing it.
* You could avoid paying your student loans for a few more years.
We delayed the inevitable for 1-4 more years, hoping that this time around, we’d finally get our lives together.
No matter how you got to where you are, you may have found yourself here with the rest of us asking the same damn question…now what?
Pin me to come back to this post later!
I’m sharing these strategies with you in hopes that they’ll help you do the same.
6 steps to figuring out what to do with your life
1. Inventory your present.
Do you ever get so caught up in the business of life that you don’t have time to really evaluate your present situation?
Like because you’re so busy trying to make it all happen, you never take the time to process all the things that are happening to you and for you?
To get to where you want to go, you have to know where you are.
Take a half day off from work or set aside a few hours at night or on the weekend to take inventory of your current life.
* Write down everything you’re grateful for.
* Make a list of your accomplishments.
* Rank your current priorities.
* What is happening in your life that is not making you happy?
* What (or whom #majorkey) in your life is taking away from you rather than pouring into you?
* What do you want to do less of or move away from?
Once you have a firm grasp on your present, it’s time to go backwards.
2. Sift through your past.
Just today, I was listening to the Mo’ Money Podcast by Jessica Moorhouse.
She was interviewing Natalie Bacon, a former lawyer who quit law to become her own boss. Natalie said something that made me stop my cart in the Farmer’s Market aisle and pull out my phone to jot down the note.
She learned this from Andy Stanley: “Experience teaches you nothing. It’s evaluated experience that teaches you something.”
There’s value in looking backwards.
To see how far you’ve come…
To figure out how TF you ended up where you are – whether that’s a good or a bad place…
To see what you beasted and where you bleeped up.
What are the things you’re most proud of that have happened to you or that you’ve made happen?
What about those things you wish you hadn’t gotten involved in? Remember any wrong turns you made that led you down a path you don’t want to go down again?
Now, take it wayyyyy back to your childhood.
As children, we develop hobbies and interests, some that we become really good at. But as we get older, our creativity is slowly sapped away from us.
What were the creative interests you use to be really good at?
3. Imagine your ideal future.
Don’t panic. Even though we’re thinking of the future here, this step isn’t the same as figuring out your purpose in life.
Instead of trying to tackle such as existential question, let’s lighten it up.
Paint a picture.
Not necessarily a picture of exactly what you want to be doing in the future…
…but a picture of what you want your life to look like.
What do you want it to sound like? Are there children playing in the background?
What will your life taste like? Smell like? Feel like?
Physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially – what do you want your life to be?
This may sound like a very abstract exercise. That’s because it is.
Why is this exercise helpful?
Because if you can figure out what you want the outcome to look like, you can figure out how to make that outcome happen.
* Do you want to travel often? For work or for play?
* What kind of income do you want to be making?
* Do you even want to be making an income, or do you want to be married to someone who does? (Not judging.)
* Is there a certain sector that you want to work in?
Don’t stress over the specifics just yet. Painting a mental picture of what you want is good enough for now.
4. Write it down (vision board for your life).
Listen, if you ever have the choice to write something down or not, write that shit down. Put it on paper. Get it out of your head and on something you can look at.
Maybe you write stuff down because you’re more likely to actually accomplish it. It’s true. You’re 42% more likely to do something if you write it down first.
Mom brain, frfr.
So as you’re inventorying your present, sifting through your past, and imagining your future, make sure you write it all down.
Bonus points: it’s a creative exercise!
Think of it as a vision board, but for your life.
5. Connect the dots.
Once you’ve laid out a vision of the life you want to live, it’s time to put in the work. This is where it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
You don’t need to figure out the whoooooooole thing at once.
When I was little, I use to love doing those little connect-the-dots activities.
That’s one low-stress way to approach life. You don’t have to know exactly what the final outcome is.
But trust that if you keep connecting the dots one line at a time, your final picture will eventually come into view.
So ask yourself: Self2018, what am I going to do today that’s going to help me get to Self2019, then Self2020, then Self2021…and ultimately, Self2040?
And then start doing it.
If you change your mind, that’s okay!
If you realize you hate the choice you made, it’s all good! Change it. Switch it up. Do something else.
Take risks. Do something scary (scary, not reckless).
Just remember to focus on that bigger picture and then take one step at a time.
6. Expect uncertainty.
Don’t forget that in the midst of your dot-connecting journey, LIFE is gonna happen.
Right in the middle of your pretty little picture.
YOU CAN PLAN A PRETTY PICNIC, BUT YOU CAN'T PREDICT THE WEATHER.– Outkast
So get comfortable with the unknown. Expect it. Plan for it.
We all live within uncertainty, and no one has all the answers.
This process of figuring out what to do with your life takes trial and error while you figure out what does and what doesn’t work.
Lean on your communities and your support groups.
Your friends and family might be a great option, but sometimes they may not be able to relate to your goals.
That’s why communities like LaziMILLENNIAL exist. If you’re working on figuring out what direction you want to take your life in, you may find the best inspiration from your peers who are in the same boat.