Everyone young or old, has had the experience or feeling of not knowing what they want to do with different aspects of their life, or even with the rest of their life. This is where young people start, by trying to figure out their place in the world but adults experience this too. We usually call this a “mid-life crisis” or an “existential crisis” or even an “identity crisis”. Indeed, not knowing what you want or suddenly not knowing what to do with the rest of your life is a scary experience. So, what to do when you don’t know what you want?
For young and old alike, not knowing what you want is usually due to being overwhelmed by the number of things to choose from or from a feeling of having no choice at all. In both cases, you are scared, confused and undecided. You feel helpless and uncertain about the future because you lack direction. Unfortunately, not many people will have someone beside them to point them in the right direction or to tell them what steps they should take next.
If you are in this situation, here are some things you can do to clear the confusion in your head and heart and start organizing your life again.
Focus on The Now
The future is uncertain so don’t let your fears of the “what ifs” scare you. Instead, focus on what you want right now. Take a deep breath and ask yourself: “If money and time are not an issue, what do I want to do?”
There is no right or wrong answer to this question and there might not even be just one answer. So write your answers on paper and list them down as they come to you. By creating this list, you are starting to clear out the uncertainty in your life and focusing on the things that you are certain about. This is your vision for your future.
For example, you might put down on your list “I want to travel”, “I want to start a business”, “I really want to be fit and healthy”, “I really want to sing”, “I want financial freedom”, etc. Your answers may seem broad and general, but this puts your wants in focus and they will serve as the direction to help you figure out what to do next. You may even be able to figure out or rekindle a long-forgotten passion that you had as a child thru this list. Already, you are prioritizing things in the order that you list them down but you can always order them as you want once you have your list. Consider this your fresh start.
Plan Out Your Next Steps
Once you’ve ordered your list, work on the most important items first. Make a plan on how you can start pursuing that goal. The plan doesn’t need to be detailed; it is just a sketch that will guide you as you go through your journey.
You may have more than one thing you want to do for different aspects of your life and that’s good too. However, make sure you start small and don’t take on too much at once. Sketching out a plan on how to work on each goal in your daily life is a good start. You can worry about the details later. The important thing at the moment is to have a plan to reach your goals. This is YOUR LIFE SKETCH which you will fill-out as you figure out the next steps along the way to your goals.
Act On Your Next Steps Immediately
Now that you have an outline of your plan, work on your first steps right away. If you need to ask help from friends or family members, colleagues or other professionals, do it. Don’t hesitate at the start of your journey. This is the time to be decisive. Yes, the future is still uncertain but you are certain of what you want right now and what you can do right now; ACT ON IT.
Once you’ve taken the first steps, the feedback you get from the people around you and from your own feelings should guide you to your next course of action. Don’t worry too much about the future; the important thing is to start and to START RIGHT NOW.
One more important thing to keep in mind in this journey to self-discovery is to keep an open mind, an attitude of gratitude and to trust that things will fall into place as you keep doing your best to pursue your goals.
Whether you’re young and confused or in a “mid-life crisis” or experiencing an “existential crisis” or an “identity crisis”; take a deep breath, get pen and paper and start writing your “What I Want to Do” list. This may seem silly at first, but it will help you get to know yourself better and serve as a light to the path you should take when you feel like you’re in a dark place in your life.