Feb 18, 2018

What Should I Do With My Life?

Michelle McGuire

Have you had that moment yet? When the world stops around you and a single question surges through your mind, “what should I do with my life?”

It can hit you anytime and once you’ve thought it, you usually can’t stop thinking about it. You don’t know the answer quite yet, but you know it’s not this. You’re suddenly full of doubt about your major, your career path, and your life, as all the possibilities of what you could be doing fill your head. Just know you’re not alone and it’s never too late to search for the answer, whether you just graduated or the question hits you at some point in the future.

Ready to start figuring it out? Think about it as a research project, but this time the subject is you. Here are some tips to guide your journey of self-discovery:

Celebrate your success

Challenge yourself to write down at least five success stories. These stories are moments where you felt energized by what you were doing as you confronted a challenge head on and solved it, whether it was a professional, educational, or personal moment. Think about your favorite school project, the work team you led, or the dispute you solved between your friends. How did you accomplish it? How did you feel while you were doing it? Start looking for patterns of what you like and don’t like to gather clues about what you’re missing in your life.

Network, network, network

Never underestimate the value of meeting new people and learning about their lives. Take the time to talk to anyone you think is interesting and ask them about their careers, their motivations, and their ambitions. You’ll get a full picture of them, their lives, and if their careers are something you’re interested in too. The perfect job is out there for you and you might not even know it exists yet.

Never stop learning

Incorporate more learning into your life as you explore your interests. How might you be able to expand your responsibilities at your current job? Are there additional projects you want to take on to see if you like them or other teams you want to support? If you’re drawing a blank on how to learn more at your current job, vow to learn more during your free time. Take a few Lynda courses that spark your interest and read books about out-of-the-box topics to stretch your thinking. You never know what topics you may love unless you try them out.

Take time to reflect

Never stop learning includes learning even more about yourself. Do you know your Myers-Briggs personality? Your strengths from StrengthFinders? Take personality assessments and then reflect on what they mean. Also, take the time to ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are and what your ideal career might look like. Sometimes getting outside opinions provides the valuable insight you’re missing about your life

Shake up your life

Sometimes the answer won’t come naturally and that’s okay. It would be amazing if you could ask yourself and have an immediate answer. If writing and self-reflection don’t come naturally, try exploring your interests other ways. Take a cooking class, try swing dancing, or take a short trip. Get out of your everyday rut and you might be surprised what you learn about yourself.

The main point is don’t worry. It may feel like an impossible task, but you will find your answer. Appreciate the journey along the way as you learn even more about yourself. And remember, graduate school can always help set your life on the path you want.