There was a time when I thought it was only me. I was the only one who felt that something was missing – but I didn’t know what. I had a successful career in sales and had the trappings of success, but I was deeply unhappy. I used to ask myself – ‘What Do I Want To Do’ and I got no answer. Turns out it wasn’t just me. Millions of people get to “mid-life” and still don’t know what they want to do. And it is not just mid-lifers. There are an astonishing amount of students and people in jobs, who have no idea what they want to do, and are miserable as sin doing what they ARE actually doing.
What has happened?
Well, much of it has to do with the messages you hear all your life about what ‘success’ is. People have all sorts of limiting beliefs – which they think are real. The thing about beliefs is though – they are just beliefs. But what you believe is real for you. So if you want to change your life you need to change your beliefs – but first, you need to look at them and acknowledge that they exist and that they ARE just beliefs.
Watch out for Limiting Beliefs
So what sort of beliefs stop you from knowing what you want to do and keep you where you are? Do any of these ring true for you?
- I need to earn XX amount to be happy/have a successful life
- I am too old to make a change – I have left it too late
- I don’t have the skills to do anything else
- It would be too disruptive to my family
- I am hopeless – and could never achieve anything
- I don’t have what it takes to make it in a different field
- Nothing else would be better than this – I’ll just have to put up with it
You see, the education system is not geared up to help you answer the question ‘What Do I Want To Do?’. The education system is about what does society want you to do/think is acceptable. And to a degree, I understand this. It is much more time consuming and therefore beyond the financial capacity of the education system to treat each child as an individual and to show them their uniqueness and look at a career path which might be anything other than mainstream.
So – kids in school think they need 4 ‘A’s at A-level to succeed in life (blatantly untrue), and then that they need to get a (good) degree to succeed (untrue), and that once they are in a career they must move up that career ladder as quickly as possible, increasing their earning capacity as much as possible in order to be “a success” (so not true).
And we get stuck in that thought process and end up 20 years later miserable as hell and hating our lives but being stuck in those golden handcuffs. You know the ones. The ones made out of the salary you earn, the job “security” (there is none by the way) and the comfort zone of being ‘good’ at what you do even though you might hate it (or parts of it).
And it is all so wrong and so avoidable. If we only recognised and celebrated each child for the individual they are with the different talents and passions and treated them all as important maybe things would be different. But back in the real world – when you find yourself stuck and have no idea what you want to do – it is because of all this programming and you need to de-program before you can really tune into what it is you want to do.
Read the list above and know – KNOW – that all of those things are illusions.
But here’s the thing. You can’t solve a problem at the level it was created. Meaning – what you have believed until now has got you where you are and so – if you are going to go somewhere else – you need to challenge and change your beliefs. And that is not so easy to do – and it is definitely not easy to do on your own. So my first recommendation is – get yourself a coach. Preferably someone who has walked your path – someone who has experienced what you have experienced and what you want to experience and can help you get there faster.
What Steps Can You Take to Help You Decide?
In no specific order, there are some things you need to sort out before you can decide what you want to do. Possibly the first of these is where you are now? And, more importantly, WHY you are where you are now. So this is about all those beliefs. What are they? Where did they come from? Which are true. This very important question is why Marion Bevington and I created the Find Your Why Foundation and our Live Love Laugh Lessons on-line to help people find their ‘Why’ and the answer to Why they are where they are right now.
Once You Can Say ‘I Know What I Want To Do’
Then, (once you have found why you are where you are) – and this one is really important – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. What I mean by this is – many people who want to make significant changes in their life think they have to change everything. They up sticks, move away, change career and change their family relationships all at one go. But then they find – the same problems come up again. Because this is not called change – this is called running away. You HAVE to solve your problems where you are before you can move onto something new, otherwise, the same patterns will repeat.
And don’t change EVERYTHING, all at once. Not everything in your life is broken – and there is an old phrase – ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ and that certainly applies here. For example – you may think promotion to management will solve your issue of ‘more money’. However, when you get there you realise what you love is being hands on in the job. Don’t throw that away for the end goal because you won’t be happy. Maybe the answer was to ask for a payrise/move company for better pay/start a part time business or negotiate a management role where you CAN be hands on. There are other options, never throw away the baby with the bath water.
Next, build your network of supporters. How much support do you get from friends and family? If they totally support everything you do, then great – still build your network! You can never have too many supporters. However, if your F&F don’t want you to change – which often happens – if they are scared for you because they don’t want you to fail, or if they are secretly scared that if you succeed things will change, then you need to build your network. Jim Rohn said you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with – so develop your network of people who are one step ahead of where you are now and can help you to get there.
A good way to think about what you want to do is to ask yourself what you want to be remembered for. Without being morbid – we are all going to die one day, and when that happens (hopefully not for a very long time) what do you want people to say about you? Whatever it is you want to be remembered for – that’s probably a good clue as to your core values and what you should be doing more of.
There are other tools and techniques you can use to Find Your Why – and if you need any help with that – email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s talk! And remember to Live Love and Laugh every day and continue to be you in your own unique way.