Over the last few years, I’ve launched more than 5 different sites. In the beginning, of course, I was super enthusiastic about every one of these new projects. Unfortunately, only a few months after I’ve started, what I did seemed stupid and I was soon dropping it. I thought I’d become a designer. Then, I thought I would become a developer. Then I got the idea to motivate others and I started a site with motivational articles and book reviews. All these projects had potential, but I was quickly tired of what I was doing. Soon, I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering from this condition…
Let’s be honest, there are many moments in our lives in which we feel that we don’t know where we’re headed. “What’s my life purpose” is one of the most asked questions online. The question that even Google can’t answer.1
While we age, most of us notice that the job we do or the hobbies we have are no longer relevant to our personality. We enjoy a lot less activities like going to clubs, drinking every night, exercising, working for someone else, and etc.2 When we grow older, we should supposedly become more responsible people, who need to have a job in order to support their families. Although we know this, it’s like everything we do seems so distant from our persona with each passing year.
In this article, I will try to answer one question that is not giving me peace for the last couple of months. A question I’m sure most of you have asked yourselves a lot of times. A question driving you insane and making you wanna hurt yourself sometimes. This question is: What to do when you don’t know what to do?
It’s a question about finding your meaning and about directing your actions towards something productive. Unfortunately, the answer is rarely obvious and it requires a lot of thought.
I hope this article can give you direction when you’re feeling lost in your own head.
Why We Don’t Know What to Do?
The problem comes from the fact that we were ruled by other people for the most part of our lives. We obey what other people tell us from very little. We are raised with the idea that we should do what others tell us to do. After so many years of obedience, at one point we do not know what we really want for ourselves because we’ve listened to others for so many years.
There are 3 stages in our lives that have had a lasting impact on the way we think. I’m sure you will understand while you see/read about them:
Stage number 1: Parents
In the beginning of our existence, we strictly follow what our parents tell us to do. Well, not exactly in the beginning, we usually don’t do what our parents tell us but after several slaps, we know who is the boss in our world and who we should listen to. When we’re between 1 and 7 we explore the world. Since we don’t know anything about our surroundings, we can spend a whole hour looking at the washing machine and thinking about how does this thing actually works – at least this is what I did when I was a little boy. Our curiosity drives us and we aim towards things we shouldn’t touch and at this very moment the parent figure appears and tell us that we “shouldn’t touch the cables”, “we should avoid the yellow snow”, “we should watch when we cross.” Even though our parents wish us well, the most common things we hear from them while we’re growing up are: “Don’t; Stop; Listen to me; Don’t do that; Don’t eat that; Go to sleep; Get up; Do that.” But that’s just how it all starts.
Stage number 2: Going to school.
School should be the place where children can find and pursue their true passions in life. Instead, thanks to the education system, they end up working on a desk for 8 hours straight doing a job that nobody cares about.
If our parents fail to make us small soldiers who follow every command, this will definitely happen when we start going to school. Like it or not, we will eventually surrender and obey what the seniors are telling us. Otherwise, we won’t graduate and we will be eventually kicked out of society.
Most of the kids love school when they are first grade, but after the first year is over, they hate it, why? Because they see that this is a very strict place where you need to follow certain rules if you want to survive. Not that rules are bad. It’s because kids understand that even when they’re doing their best creative work, it’s still not good enough for the other people. School is designed to permanently remove your desire to become something more and adjust your personality to the average norms. And it’s doing a hell of a job. Thanks to the grade system and the social censure, we learn to follow the rules.
The whole school system is designed to brainwash our minds so that we can later work in a factory, without asking too many questions.
Stage number 3: Working
We graduate and we think that we’re free from all the chores that were previously occupying our lives for so many years and that now can pursue our passions. We dream of a fancy job title and a corner office. Exactly at this moment the bank calls you and reminds you that the payment for your student loan is next week. At this moment you understand that you can’t wait for the desired position and you start working at McDonald’s.
When we get a job the trap snaps. You’re a hostage and your overall freedom depends on your financial health. If you have money aside, you can tell your boss that he is a jerk when he really is. If you don’t, you have to keep up with his shit regularly.
What are the main things we do in life:
Before we observe the problem about not knowing what to do in your life, let see what are the things we do and need to do in lives in general no matter if we like it or not:
Sleep – We need this in order to survive.
Eat – We need to eat in order to survive.
Exercise – We can skip that but it will have a negative aspect over our lives.
Travel – We travel in order to go to other places.
Shop – We shop for food, clothes, and other essential things.
Go to the restroom – Yep. Also something essential.
Do work that helps us gain money and acquire things important for our survival. Or in other words, to have a job.
We can’t survive without doing 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. I mean, you need to at least go downstairs to pick what the delivery guy brought you. For number 3 you have an option to skip it but it’s something I will suggest doing nevertheless. These things are constant. You can’t survive without doing them and it’s only one way of doing these things. We all sleep in a vertical position and you surely don’t need a science degree to eat. Also, even though you can have a piss sitting if you’re a man, I believe you got my point.
The key aspect here is number 7: Doing something that will help you gain the essential goods you need to survive in the world. In some areas in the world, people still hunt wild animals and gather food in order to survive in the wilderness. Hunting is basically their daily job. This was our job as humans for thousands of years. No matter what was your passion or your strengths. You had to kill in order to eat. This changed over the years. Slowly but surely, different job positions emerged and people had more opportunities and freedom in terms of how to spend their time.
Now, believe it or not, you can literally become the person you desire.3 You are free to choose your destiny. Yes, it will require a lot of work and yes, it will take you a lot of time but our current reality allow us to make a living doing what we love.
So what’s wrong then? It seems like we’re having a party here on Earth since people can work the job they desire, right? Wrong. This freedom is killing us. The more options we have the more overwhelmed we feel. When you go to the supermarket to pick a cereal for breakfast you stare at the aisle, you see 200 different kinds of cereal and you supposedly should be happy, but you’re not. You’re stunned. Shocked by all different options and you don’t know what to pick. The same applies when we’re thinking about towards where to direct our lives. Since you can become anything, doing only something, only one thing, seems like you’re missing out on the other things.4
That’s why we end up being confused and using extensive amounts of alcohol, drugs and other substances that only cloud our thinking even more.
What NOT to do when you don’t know what to do?
The above title might sound a bit confusing but there are indeed a couple of things that you shouldn’t do when you don’t know what to do in your life. Here are they:
Focus too much on others
Now is easier than ever to check what celebrities are doing and fall in love with their lifestyle. It’s fun to dream to sound like Beyonce or have a butt like Nicki Minaj. People become so obsessed with what others are doing that they tend to forget what they want in their own personal lives. If you have a social media account you can tab the follow icon and dive deep into what your favorite celebrity is doing in just a few seconds. However, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that this is the worst thing you can do in your life.
When you put a rapper celebrity on a pedestal, everything you do will seem boring, thus you will be dissatisfied with every single action you take during your whole day. You will compare your income, looks, and friends with the other people. A recipe for disaster. If you’re in stuck mode don’t bother checking social media or what others are getting, buying.
Purchase an online course
There are indeed great courses online. There are courses that will help you become 375 times more productive. Also, there are courses that will only waste your time and money.
When you’re stuck you’re vulnerable. Your sole is hurt and it’s looking for easy ways to feel good again. Getting the first course you see online may seem like an easy solution but it surely not the best one if you still don’t know what to do. Subscribing to an online membership will be a good idea but only after you’re sure that you really need it.
Block the outside world
Going solo is maybe a good solution when you want to decide on an important question, like this one, but do be careful. Complete isolation is not such a positive thing. If you don’t know what to do, the chance to figure it out on your own is slim. Closing inside yourself often lead to depression.
Cure your troubles with more stuff
There is no such thing as shopping therapy. It’s simply a modern cliché. It mainly refers towards getting things you don’t actually need. When we go shopping we’re not too excited about the thing we’re getting, we’re more in love with the process of buying. It’s intoxicating. Even addictive. Like alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and constant desire for sexual intercourse. Also, it’s something you should avoid when you’re in a crisis situation. Buying things don’t solve the problem, they simply help you forget it for a while.
What to do when you don’t know what to do?
I’ve felt stuck a lot of times. Before, when I wasn’t sure towards where I want to direct my life I was often turning to alcohol for advice. Now I know better that this is not the place you want to be.
There are several areas in which you might be feeling stuck:
You don’t know what work you want to do.
You don’t know what to do in your personal life.
You don’t know what to do in your spare time.
A lot of times exactly because we don’t know where we’re headed we settle for the thing we are comfortable with. The easy job, that doesn’t pay you a lot of money but has only a few responsibilities. Video games and social media because they are fun and they feel good. Sometimes we even end up married to a person who we don’t quite like because we’re convinced that there won’t be someone else that will love us.
Here are few ways to that will help you unstuck:
Look in the past
What made you happy in the past? We change when we get older but there are certainly things which we’ll continue to adore throughout our entire lifespan. Think about the moments that made you feel happy when you were younger. Did you enjoy writing? Or it might be painting? Our future actions are often predetermined by our past so it’s a good idea to check what you did a couple of years ago.
Talk with people
Have a meaningful conversation with other people about what’s life and what are their goals. Sharing your condition with the people that are close to you can open a lot of doors and can give you a different perspective in regards life in general. Even though you will probably won’t find the answer to your question you can hear other stories that will surely contain something valuable. Something you might use and implement in your life.
Why you’re asking yourself this question? Why is so hard for you to find direction in life? Probably you’re thinking that the work you do is not making a meaningful impact. Then, it’s time for a change.
My best advice will be to experiment and try different things. Write. Paint. Travel. Fail a couple of times. Then try again. You can’t be sure that you don’t like ballet unless you’ve tried it, right?
While we’re younger we should do our best to experiment in order to find our true meaning. Not that this can’t happen while we’re older but it will be a bit harder. There are consequences that are preventing us from being adventurous. Things like kids, wife, mortgages, and other responsibilities. Nevertheless, don’t settle. Find time for yourself so you can better understand who you are.
If you don’t know what to do get still. Do nothing till you figure it out. Unfortunately, nobody knows for you what you want to get out of life. Where you should be headed and what you should do. This is something only you can decide. Different people can give you different advice. Can share with your their stories and that’s cool because you can use this information to figure your things out. Still, you’re responsible for your own destiny. Maybe it’s a good idea to sit down with yourself for a while and think deeply about your future intentions.
We spend a lot of time thinking about what to wear or what to eat, but we rarely think about our future or what we want to do when we grow older. We settle for a job that is not even close to our personality only because we don’t observe ourselves enough from the inside. This lack of self-knowledge leads to a place where you don’t wanna go. A place like this article – trying to understand what to do with our lives.
Schedule some “me” time where you can check where you’re headed and see if this is the right path. Otherwise, you will soon again ask yourself the question we’re trying to answer here: What to do when you don’t know what to do?
Well, it can. But even if you read all the content online related to this topic it still won’t answer your question unless you look deep inside your soul. I mean, deeper than you’ve ever looked before.
I’m probably wrong for reason number 2.
Don’t believe me? Look at the current US president. The guy is an achiever. He set a goal is he achieve it. Nobody thinks that he is doing a great job but he’s the president now and we can’t do anything about it.
That’s why so many people are suffering from the FOMO condition these days.