What Should I Do with My Life? Figure Out What You Really Want in 5 Steps

Find your direction to living a life full of purpose, fulfillment, and career success.

Knowing what to do with your life isn't always an easy task. Sometimes you may feel stuck, trying to figure out your next career move. While this is not uncommon and can happen at any stage of life, it can lead to frustration and confusion on many levels. But, as stressful as it may seem, try to focus on the positive aspects. The question "What should I do with my life?" is simply the beginning of your journey to self-discovery. You should feel excited and optimistic about taking the next step on your career path.

Whether you've just graduated, are returning from a career break, or are looking to change your profession, it's never too late to find your calling. Unfortunately, no crystal ball or fortune teller can predict your future. The good news is that you are the architect of your destiny. So, start believing in yourself. Then figure out what you really want and how to achieve it.

If you've lost your direction in life, read on to explore five steps to help you discover who you are and how to choose a purposeful and fulfilling career. You never know, the answer to "What should I do with my life?" might be closer than you think.

  1. Where Are You Now and How Did You Get Here?

The first step in how to figure out what to do with your life is to reflect on your past experiences. Everything you have done in your life has brought you to where you are now and can help you make thoughtful decisions about where you’re heading. This step can allow you to explore the things you're good at and what you enjoy doing, and get you closer to choosing a new career.

Consider the following questions to help you connect the dots:

  • What events, choices, and milestones in your life have shaped who you are today?
  • What jobs in your past did you love or hate and why?
  • Were there any classes or activities that you enjoyed and excelled at?
  • Do you feel passionate about your current work? If not, why?
  • Are there any industries or careers that you may not have considered?
  1. Are You Where You Always Thought You Would Be?

To help answer your question of "What should I do with my Life?" it's important to think about why you're doing what you're doing. Life can throw us curveballs sometimes, forcing us into a career that doesn't align with our desires and values.

As a child, what did you dream of becoming? How did that dream change over the years? Maybe the expectations of your parents or a teacher overshadowed your expectations of yourself, and now you are stuck in a job that makes you unhappy. Or perhaps you are miserable working in your job simply to pay the bills.

Whatever the case, it's never too late to make a change. This is your life to live, nobody else's. Take time to channel your inner child and reconnect with your innate passions. What you think you should be doing is quite different from what you really want to do. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Write down all the reasons that you are in your current situation (be truthful with yourself), and you could be surprised at what you find.

  1. What Are You Good at and Enjoy Doing?

Now that you've reflected on your past and evaluated where you are, it's time to assess what you're passionate about and where you excel. If you're wondering, "What should I be doing with my life?" this is your chance to explore how your interests and skills can fit into a career you'll love. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What are you naturally good at?
  • What tasks do you innately enjoy doing and why?
  • What skills do you have? Make a list of your transferable, soft, and technical skills.
  • What are your greatest strengths, and how do you use them?
  • What is your favorite pastime or hobby?
  • What elements of your previous jobs have you enjoyed the most?

Talk to your trusted friends, family members, or colleagues if you get stuck on any of these questions. They may be able to give you a different perspective, providing a potential lightbulb moment.

  1. What Are Your Motivations and Values?

Understanding what you value most in your personal life and career is essential to answering, "What should I do with my life?" It can help determine your reasons for pursuing a specific job and the type of company culture you'll thrive in. While we know, there is no "perfect job" out there, prioritizing your values and recognizing your motivations can help you make an intelligent and informed career decision. You'll find fulfillment and success much easier when you enjoy your work environment.

Some of your core lifestyle and work values might include:

  • having a healthy work-life balance
  • saving money
  • keeping your independence
  • retiring early
  • serving others
  • flexibility in your work
  • making a good salary
  • having variety at work
  1. What Are Your Goals in Life?

If you're still questioning "What to do with my life?" the next essential step is determining your life goals. What do you want to accomplish in your personal and professional life? When writing down your goals, it's a good idea to separate them into short, medium, and long-term goals, and remember to review your progress. For example, what can you do today when thinking about your short-term goals? A good start would be to work on updating your resume and look online at jobs in your desired industries.

Setting SMART goals allows you to define your career ideas, focus your actions, and use your time wisely. Each goal must be:

  • Specific – what must I accomplish, why is it important, and how will it be done?
  • Measurable – its progress must be quantified and measured frequently.
  • Achievable – is it realistic and obtainable?
  • Relevant – is it beneficial, and does it match my needs?
  • Time-bound – set deadlines to attain actionable results.

Remember, your life consists of several elements: health, spiritual wellness, wealth, mental strength, career, and relationships. Setting goals in each area is essential to helping you live a happy and fulfilled life.

Trust in Your Future

We hope you're a few steps closer to solving your question of "What should I do with my life?" Don't worry about having it all figured out; the real key is getting started. The most important areas to focus on are your core values and goals and how they could fit into your ideal career. When searching for jobs, make sure to have these written down in order of importance, so they stay top of mind. Remember, as long as you stay true to who you are; you can manifest the life and career you've always dreamed of by following our five targeted steps to knowing yourself and your career aspirations.

Kickstart Your New Career and Start Searching on Monster

Now that you have gained helpful insights into your question, "What should I do with my life?" it's time to begin your job search with Monster. Start by creating a free profile today and take the next step in finding your dream job. You'll receive customized job alerts, career advice, and job search tips straight to your inbox. After you've signed up, you can upload your resume, and we'll match you with positions that align with your values, goals, and experience.