If you’re feeling a bit lost about the direction you want to take in life, you’re certainly not alone (though that may not make you feel any better about it)! When we’re young, the world is our oyster, and the possibilities are limitless–and that may be part of the problem. There are so many directions you can go that it’s common to suffer from a bit of analysis paralysis.
But, there’s hope. You just need to be willing to engage in a bit of self-reflection.
1. Decide What YOU Want and Value
Far too often, people fall prey to a lifestyle based on the beliefs and expectations of others, whether it be their family or society at large. We’re conditioned to believe a certain type of life is what’s appropriate. It’s pounded into our heads over and over what we should want. There’s a prevailing and narrow definition of what constitutes being “successful,” and we may feel pressure to fit that mold. And, all the while, our true selves gets buried deeper and deeper.
The reality is, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you really want to do with your life, but it’s being blocked by all of this stuff; you may worry what other people would think of you if you chose a certain path. You may worry about disappointing family. The list of concerns is endless.
But, if you really want to live a meaningful life, and have a job you like, you must really sit down and figure out who you are and what you want. Don’t censor yourself. What makes you happy? What are your core values? The more clearly you can answer these questions, the better idea you’ll have of what type of life you’d like to live, and what would make you happy. And, with this clarity comes greater confidence in the decisions you make—you’ll know you are doing the right thing, and you won’t be deterred.
2. Start Taking Action, No Matter How Small
Sometimes when we think about all that stands between the life we want and the life we have now, it can seem overwhelming. There’s so much to be done to make these changes we desire, and this usually leads us to the interesting decision of doing nothing. If you have an idea of the direction you want to go, take a step today toward reaching it, no matter how small it may seem.
If you think you want to get your master’s degree, take a GRE practice test. If you’re thinking about going to college for the first time, get online and request informational brochures. If you’ve discovered a new career that may vibe with you, start learning all you can about it. The important thing is to do something that will get you moving in the right direction. We all must start somewhere. Be patient, and keep taking those steps until you get where you want to be.
3. Remember Nothing is Permanent
There’s probably a big part of you that’s thinking any decision you make now must be acceptable for the next 50 years of your life. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. And while you do want to give some thought to the long-term, your main focus should be now. People change careers all the time, so you can too. People themselves change over time, and they often redirect the course of their lives completely. Any decision you make now is not permanent. If things change down the line, you can simply shift gears.
If you can follow these three pieces of advice, you’ll take yourself far in figuring out the answers to the questions you have about your life. And, no matter what you do, remember to have faith that you’ll get on the right path and that you’ll be supported along the way.
Rachel Matthews is a freelance writer with a background in business who’s been relying on her entrepreneurial skill set since she was in high school.