I’m all too familiar with the “What am I doing with my life?” question.
It was literally the reason I started this blog! The issue burns brightly in my mind more often than I’d like.
I say that because it feels like a sad question. It’s heavy with self-doubt and related concerns, like:
Am I making the most of my time? Am I doing enough? Am I enough? And is this all there is?
Nobody wants to waste their time.
We want joyful lives of meaning and purpose. We want to live fully and feel significant; to feel loved and valued by ourselves and others.
When reality seems at odds with all that, it’s natural to feel disheartened.
Thankfully, there are ways out of the hole we can dig for ourselves. Here are ten tips I hope will help anyone who’s wondering what they’re doing with their life.
[Last updated: May 2023]
“What Am I Doing with My Life?” – 10 Tips to Turn Things Around
What am I doing? What am I doing wrong in life? What am I supposed to do with my life? What am I doing with my life? What am I going to do with my life?
These kinds of questions running around your head? I hope the following tips will help you realize how to figure out what you want in life.
Heads up, you might also like these 200 Awesome Self-Love Affirmations!
1. Don’t Panic
First off, don’t get ahead of yourself.
Remember, ‘this too shall pass’, and all that jazz- right?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling better about affairs in a few days (maybe less).
Don’t go all quarter-life crisis on matters and make some drastic decisions you can’t take back!
Pinch yourself, hold your tongue, and bide your time.
At the end of the day, this question stems from something you’re feeling.
Instead of being reactive to it, it can help to just attend to what’s going on inside. Listen to your emotions and what they’re saying; sit with them without judging or rushing to conclusions.
You might find that your worries dissipate upon inspection.
FYI- this post about the value of personal development might help too!
2. Write a Bucket List
I love bucket lists.
For one thing, they distract me.
Writing a bucket list is a tantalizing and intoxicating glimpse into what you’re future could look like. It’s a wish-list of activities that leads to wistful day-dreams; a way of beautifying your life without actually doing anything!
You write down all the things you want to do before you die. Naturally, you become excited and inspired by the opportunities available.
The trick’s to make sure you actually start ticking items off it…
Here’s a list of 50 simple bucket list ideas to get you started.
3. Make a Plan
I also love planning.
In psychological lingo, I’m distinctly ‘intolerant to uncertainty’.
As much as I believe spontaneity and a lack of planning in life are important, I can’t deny how reassuring I find it to have one. In this context, making a plan is a great first step to putting your bucket list to work.
Don’t be one of those people full of dreams and big ideas who never does anything with them. Take that tack and you’ll be wondering what you’re doing with life until you die.
If you think there’s more to it, and that you’re not making the most of your time (and it isn’t just a passing bout of the blues), then you have to take action.
Look at the things you want to do and set about planning how to make them happen.
If you’re interested, here are the things I’m determined to do before I die.
4. Seek Progress
If the ‘what am I doing with my life’ question was a snake bite, progress or growth would be the anti-venom.
I challenge anybody to feel a sense of progress while feeling down in the dumps at the same time.
You can’t – the two just don’t go together.
Progress is a great cure-all for most difficult emotional situations. However, that’s never truer than when you’re wondering, “what am I doing with my life.”
Do what you can to attain a sense of it.
Start a new hobby, push for a promotion at work, go back to university, join a sports team, do some drawing…anything. It doesn’t have to be big- any sense of growth will help inspire you.
Find yourself really hating life? Here’s what to do.
5. Go Travelling
Wondering what you’re doing with your life?
I reckon it ticks all the boxes you’re looking for in a solution.
Firstly, you have an epic adventure somewhere in the world, which automatically makes life feel more worthwhile.
Second, it forces a level of new self-understanding upon you. It’s hard to come away from your travels without a newfound sense of who you want to be, what you want to do, and so on.
You walk away with a new sense of purpose. And, where purpose is present, meaning isn’t far behind.
Finally, and I’ve experienced this for myself, there’s something intrinsically healing about travel.
To be as clichéd as possible, you go on a journey in more ways than one, and get the time, space and practical challenges that facilitate growth and resolution.
Here’s all the travel content you need to get started with your travel plans.
People are a bit like sheep.
And society’s the shepherd.
It herds, funnels and cajoles us into a particular pathway, fencing us in when we’ve gone far enough.
Most of us end up following a well-trodden path through life. It’s the one we’ve been told about since we were 3: school, college, uni, job, career, marriage, kids…
…unhappiness, divorce, mid-life crisis…death.
Okay, so those last few weren’t in the original script. All the same, you get the idea.
Take that path and it’s no surprise to me that we end up wondering what on earth we’re doing with our lives. It’s just so ordinary.
There’s far more out there.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Try a new career path, move to a new place, make new friends, eat new foods, sell all your stuff, and, at the end of it all, heed this quote from Jack Kerouac:
Live by the Kerouac creed and queries about life’s value will fade into nothingness.
Setting some goals might be helpful here too. These 100 life goals ideas could be a source of inspiration.
7. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
I’m a total sucker for this.
I compare myself to other people all the bloody time- it’s tiring.
Not only is it hugely judgmental, but it’s also a strain on my mental wellbeing. I wonder what I’m doing with my life and look around at the friends and family crushing it in their respective fields.
Rationality goes out of the window in these moments- I forget that nobody is perfect. In my mind it’s black and white: they’re doing better than I am.
Of course, the comparisons don’t help anybody.
Find yourself doing the same? Try and give yourself a break. Sure, social comparisons can be a useful source of inspiration, and a kick up the butt when you’re slacking.
But they can also be deeply upsetting. All that judgment and self-hate bounces around inside and destroys levels of motivation; you just beat yourself up, grow increasingly anxious, and perpetuate the problem.
Stop, take a breath, and do something to distract yourself.
8. Get Off Social Media
…And get off social media.
It’s no surprise to me that social media usage is being tied to all sorts of mental illness these days.
It’s just one giant orgy of judgment and self-comparison. I know social media has a lot of positives too, but for many people, it’s a source of real distress.
Heck, it might even have sparked the questions in the first place.
There’s nothing like seeing the wealthy lifestyle of an old school-friend on Instagram to provoke jealousy and a feeling of inadequacy.
Take a break from social media for a while.
9. Remember Your Achievements
With social media switched off and your mobile phone put away, you’ve got a newfound free hand to give yourself a pat on the bum.
Well done, you’re a bloody good person.
Remind yourself of that fact! Spend a moment reflecting on the positive stuff you’ve done, and the quality parts of your personality.
When you’re really down this can be easier said than done- you might not even want to try. However, in difficult times, it never hurts to remind ourselves of our successes.
Don’t conjure them up half-heartedly. Stop and really reflect on your achievements. Roll them around in your mind as you would a delicious sweet on the tongue. Dwell on them, indulging this healing attempt at self-enhancement.
You deserve it.
10. Try Gratitude
A quick one to finish: try and be thankful for the stuff in your life too.
Life might not be going as you’d like it.
All the same, there’s always something to be grateful for. I mean, you could even argue that this entire period of struggle over your life is one big learning opportunity…
Sometimes, finding gratitude for the negative things provides the greatest benefits anyway. Turning a negative into a positive will forever be a powerful tool at your disposal.
You reframe the issue, taking charge of it in the process. The ability to find thanks in the tough times is an enormous attribute.
Treat it like a muscle, regularly exercising your attempts at reframing the situation. With practice, you’ll become adept at counteracting negative self-talk through the power of gratitude.
Start Feeling Better About Life
I frequently find myself asking:
‘What am I doing with my life?’
It’s like my go-to query when I’m having a moment. Thankfully, I’ve found a few tools and tactics for turning the situation around.
Hopefully, if you’ve found yourself in a sub-ideal time of life, the suggestions above will help you do the same.
Got any thoughts or comments on this post? I’d love to hear them! Drop a comment below 🙂