Almost every day, sometimes several times a day, I get e-mails from people asking me what direction they should take in life. Since the answer is almost always the same, I thought this was a good time to share this information with everyone.
A persons life path can only be truly determined by themselves. No other person can do it for you, because even if they can catch hints of what you may be doing in the future, this information will always be filtered through their knowledge and life experience, which will tend to set you off in a slightly skewed direction if you follow their advice
So no psychic, teacher, or member of the clergy can really tell you what you should be doing with your life. On the good side, with just a little work, you can figure this out for yourself in short order!
You have an in-built guide that tells you what you should be doing in life. This guide is the combination your own interests and desires.
To focus this, try writing two lists.
- Put everything you like to do. Add in everything! (No one else will see this list, so be honest and open with your feelings about things.) Try to think through an average day and figure out what you do for fun, what you do to relax, what kinds of things you research and follow up on. Don’t worry about having the skills to make a living at these things, just write down what you like for now.
- Write down everything you wanted to be as a young child, even if this does not apply to you now. It will help free your mind, opening up to process new possibilities as you did when younger. Get them all down as best you can! So if you wanted to be a fireman, write it down! A ballerina? An astronaut super hero that travels through time? That counts too. (Don’t leave anything off out of embarrassment and try to scrape your memory for all of them you can find.)
This list is about the ideas you had, not about practicality. We will work practicality in later. For now remember your dreams, big and small.
These lists, particularly your likes and interests, should take you a little while to write out. Think about it and work on it for a few days, maybe a week. This issue is important enough to take your time with!
Once both lists are done and on paper, Re read your list of childhood dreams carefully and consider each entry seriously for a few moments. Try to consider what it would be like to do each item written down and think about how you could get there from where you are now. Don’t dwell on negatives, just focus on how it could be done!
Go in assuming that major life changes would be needed and that you will probably need to make big alterations to your habits, schooling and life style. Just think of possible path for a while and mark out how it could be done, at least in potential.
This exercise is about breaking your normal thought habits and allowing yourself to see what could really be done!
The second part of this process should come right on the heals of that first exercise, while the changes you have made to your thinking are still clear and active within you.
Take out the first list, with all of your interests on it. Look at each of your interests and see if any of them seem to tie together.
- Are movies mentioned a lot or television programs?
- Do you enjoy games or books a lot?
- Is your interest geared towards fashion or mechanics?
You will probably find a few connecting threads, two or three at least, within your list.
Note these down on a separate list but keep the first list of interests handy.
What you have left is a list of several possible life paths for you to follow that will call to you and help lead you in the right direction.
Picking your path:
Find a comfortable spot, take your new list of possible paths and sit quietly for a few moments with your eyes closed. Let your thoughts drift a bit and relax as best you can.
When you feel ready, open your eyes and read the first item on your list and then close your eyes again.
- Ask yourself: how does this item make you feel?
- Do you feel happy considering it as a career or life path or does it make you feel a bit uncomfortable and edgy?
Sit with this idea for a few minutes and see if your feelings change about it.
If you feel uncomfortable or edgy about the idea, note this down.
If you feel good about it, mark this down as well.
Do this for each option on your list.
Now you should have at least one and possibly several (they ARE your basic likes and interests after all) different paths that you can take, any of which will lead you in the correct direction for you.
Pick one. You cannot make an incorrect choice here. But start with just one thing.
Making a Plan:
Sit down and think seriously about what work, jobs or other things you could do in your chosen area of interest. There are probably hundreds of related things you could go into. As you research and find out more, you should gain a good picture of what seems like fun and what would be related to your interests, but less interesting to you.
Read up on what qualifications you need for these positions, and figure out how to gain those skills. School works, but don’t forget apprenticeships, interning and getting a lower level job in the industry or area of your choice and gaining the skills that way! Don’t let anything stop you from making your plan. It may take some work, but it will be worth it!
One last thing…
Do it. The biggest stumbling block for most people is this last step of actually putting their plan into motion. Don’t let anything stop you if you can help it. Being busy or having other plans right now is not a good enough reason to not pursue your interests in life.
So, do it and keep doing it until you make it. Nothing I have found replaces work and effort!