Who knew adulting could be so complicated and, if we’re being completely honest, lackluster? Sure, we all have those days where we feel like we’re rocking it: fun nights with friends, good relationships with coworkers, solid performance reviews from our boss, and growing spiritual walk with God. And then there are the other days.
Other days when we may still have those things, but the question of “what am I doing with my life” haunts us. Other days we’re wondering why am I doing this and how did I get here. For all of those days and more, it’d be nice to have an answer!
But though I’m sure you’re reading this post hoping to find the answer, all I can promise you is that you’ll find an answer. But the real answer? You’re the one that knows it, and this guide will help you be honest with yourself and get to the bottom of the question of what should I be doing with my life?
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Waking up to “What am I Doing with my Life?”
More than once, I’ve woken up in the morning, stared at the ceiling, and wondered what am I doing with my life. At times it feels like someone else has taken the reins, and I’m just an actor in a play. Other days, I feel like I’m floating aimlessly through life. And still, there are those days where I look around and realize this is not where I want to be.
Sometimes, the feelings of confusion rise up and pass pretty quickly once I resume the busyness of adulting.
Is it normal to not know what you’re doing with your life?
If you’re asking this question, then be encouraged! It is completely normal to not know what you’re doing with your life. I know adults from 18 to 60 who are still wondering what they want to be when they grow up. Even more, I know people who are doing jobs that are completely unrelated to their college degrees or professional education (like me!).
And there are thousands of people who visit this blog every day because they’re also wondering what am I doing with my life. You are certainly not alone. And just because you got lost for a bit or are unsure what’s next doesn’t mean you’re abnormal. In fact, it probably means you are normal. All of the manicured, put-together lives that we see on TV or on social media are not real.
If we’re honest, we’re faking it until we make it. Trying hard and making mistakes, but getting back up again.Kara J Lovett
How can I be happy?
From working in corporate and chasing all of the wrong things, I can tell you that the things the world tells you will make you happy actually will not make you happy. My college professor told us an anecdote in a business class about a very wealthy, prominent, and respected businessman that spoke about his amazing international experiences and professional positions throughout his career. During the Q&A session, one of the students asked how he maintained work-life balance.
Instead of answering, the businessman teared up and left the room. Later, he apologized to my professor for leaving unexpectedly. He said, “I realized that my youngest son just graduated college and I don’t even know who he is.”
None of us want to be this businessman. We don’t want to look back at the end of our life and realize that we wasted our opportunities to spend time with the people that we love, to build strong relationships and friendships, create special memories, and make an impact on the people around us.
So, it’s not a surprise that these things are what will make us happy and give us a purposeful life. We desire a purpose and a calling greater than ourselves. Jesus fills that calling for our life, and he has a plan destined for each of us in His will.
5 Answers for 5 situations when IDK what to do with my life
When it comes to answering the question of “what am I doing with my life,” you have to be honest with yourself. You have to reflect on aspects of your life that may make you uncomfortable. Additionally, you may need to set aside time to work through complicated feelings and emotions that you’ve been too busy to process.
Similar to how adulting is complicated, there is not one answer or magic solution for when you don’t know what to do with your life.
But all hope is not lost. Here are 5 common situations that often bring up the question of what am I doing with my life. And as I’ve experienced all 5 of these at one time or another, you’ll get an authentic response and a way for you to reflect and find your answer.
1 – What do I want out of life?
We’re starting with the biggest question that usually stems from what am I doing with my life. Honestly, when I’m feeling confused or dissatisfied with the direction of my life, usually it’s because I’ve lost track of what I want out of life.
My dad has a saying that I love for how simple and true it is: Keep the main thing, the main thing.
What’s your main thing? Do you know what your heart desires most and are you chasing it? If not, then what are you doing and why? Take some time to reflect on these questions and write your honest thoughts.
For me, the main thing is being part of God’s kingdom and living a life that advances Jesus’s mission. It’s about knowing God and being known by Him. Whenever I’m feeling aimless or without purpose, I remind myself of my personal mission. With the gifts and talents that God has given me, how can I bring glory to him every day with my actions?
Life is fleeting, but the some treasures will outlast our lives. Whatever will count in heaven us what we should be chasing here on earth.
2 – What am I doing with myself and my time?
If you’ve found yourself asking this question, you may also have asked yourself, what am I doing with my life. This question is for those who are finding themselves exhausted at the end of the day…and most days. Some other aspects of adulting that may lead to these questions include:
You have a never ending to-do list that’s stressing you out.
- As soon as you cross off one item, there are ten more tasks you need to attend to.
- You can’t remember the last time you had some quality me-time.
- Your planner is overflowing and no matter how much you organize it, you’re still overwhelmed by the list of to-dos.
- You’ve started forgetting to do what you’ve promised or are missing deadlines.
- You know living like this is unsustainable and you’re feeling burnt-out.
Related: Best Planners to Help with Organizing
What I Want to Do with My Life
When I started my PhD program and continued working as a consultant, I felt this way particularly during exam weeks. It didn’t matter how early I got up or when I arrived to campus to start working. Still – I kept running out of time.
If you can relate to any (or all) of the items outlined above, then you’re probably wondering what am I doing in life and why am I doing this. Except it’s not about what you’re doing, but how much you’re doing.
You are doing too much and stretching yourself too thin.
While Wonder Woman may be able to handle everything without sleep, you and I on the other hand are limited. We have limited time, energy, and brainpower, and we like to commit to doing a lot even though we can’t necessarily follow through.
Solving the Stressed Version of “What am I Doing with My Life”
Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce your stress and reduce your commitments so you’ll feel less exhausted and worn out.
- Prioritize – everything cannot be important, or else nothing is important. Looking at your to-do lists, group things into different related buckets and then prioritize the groups. What will be your #1 priority over everything else?
- Write down how you spend your time – Sometimes we don’t realize how much time we are spending on different tasks or responsibilities. For a couple of days, track how you spend your time. Then you can see how you may be misusing your time.
- Block your time – Create a schedule in blocks of time. For example, I have blocks of time for “blog writing”, “website maintenance”, “homework”, and “social time.” Yep – seeing my friends and family is a priority so I block off the time.
- Take time to think about what you want to be doing – imagine that instead of 24 hours a day (or 8 hours of free time) you had even less. What would make the cut?
- Outsource – are there things you spend time on that you hate and that you could afford to hire someone to do? For example, I use grocery pick up so I can save time grocery shopping, and I hired my cousin to mow my yard so I can do homework on the weekends.
3 – I don’t know What to Do with my Future
Adulting is full of crossroads, tough decisions that seem to be the determinants of our future. In high school, I remember laboring over decisions like what college should I go to or what major should I choose. Now in my 20s, my decisions are more about should I buy a house, should I go back to school, which job should I take, do I want move…
It all boils down to the fact that I don’t know what to do with my future.
How do I discover what I want to do in life?
If I don’t know what to do with my future, chances are I don’t know what I’m doing with my life.
At times where I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with my life, I’m actually wondering what should I be doing next.
My best advice is to seek wise counsel that you trust and that is rooted in God’s word. Sometimes we live under the false assumption that we have to do everything on our own as an adult instead of asking for help. But we actually do ourselves a disservice by not getting as much information as we can about big decisions or new career paths.
For example, when I was trying to decide whether or not to buy a house, I spoke with my parents, my aunts, trusted mentors, and a realtor. The realtor in particular was able to tell me about the housing market and if buying would be a better investment than paying rent in the short term.
When building a budget and deciding how to invest in my 401(k), I turned to a spiritual mentor of mine who is a financial advisor. I also did an in-depth biblical study about handling money. I learned all of these rewarding habits of managing money as a young professional. When it came to deciding to become a PhD student, I had to do a lot of self-discovery, too.
How do you change your life when you don’t know where to start?
Before starting a PhD program, I’d been feeling restless for some time. It was as though God placed within me this yearning for a career change though I didn’t know what that change looked like. So I explored different career options in 4 main ways:
- I looked up job postings and read the descriptions then found people in that job to whom I could talk to about the job roles.
- I reached out to my mentor and she helped me drill down what I was looking for in a new job.
- I networked with other young professionals and asked them what it was like to be an early career professional at their current firm.
- I made a list of what I was looking for in a job, how I wanted to use my skills, and what I enjoyed doing. That way, I had a better idea of what types of job would fit my desires, talents, and lifestyle.
Here is where it helps to be honest with yourself and reflect on the previous jobs you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy.
Even if you’re feeling like “I don’t know what I want,” chances are you know what you don’t want. Start there. The more information you have about possible decisions and your desires, the easier it will be to make decisions about the future.
4 – My life is on autopilot – what am I even doing?
I love routines. They’re comfortable, predictable, and not stress-inducing. I also love making schedules (though they often get ruined). For these reasons, I thought I would revel the day when my life got into a nice routine. On the contrary, I was so comfortable that life turned mundane.
It was as though I was going through the motions and living on autopilot. If you’ve felt similarly, you may have woken up wondering what am I even doing and why am I doing this?
What is the point of life?
Instead of using an example from my own life, I’m going to borrow from the Good Place. One of the aspects I love about the show is that it paints a compelling picture for why life is meaningful. The dissatisfaction that the characters even have with this man-made portrayal of heaven is that it last forever, and because it lasts forever, it loses its shine.
But because life is short, life is meaningful.
Psalms 103:15-16 reads:
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.ESV
In the uncertainties and the unknowns, we never know which day in life will be our last. And the same for our loved ones. While this reality may seem morbid, I bring it up to encourage you to live.
If you feel like your life is on auto-pilot, then what are you waiting for?
- Grab your 20s bucket list or your 30 before 30 challenge or your personal goals and get started.
- Check things off of your summer bucket list, fall bucket list, winter bucket list, and spring bucket list.
- Ask yourself what you would do if this year were your last year. Is it traveling? Buy a ticket to the cheapest destination today.
- Find your list of things to do “someday” and make a plan to get it done soon.
- Do what scares you. Stop waiting for someone to tell you it’s time to move. Change it up. Go. Do.
I write more about this feeling of complacency and staying in my comfort zone in my guest post for Reclaim Today.
5 – What am I supposed to do with my life?
This last question is for situations when you’re asking yourself, “what am I doing with my life?” because you don’t know what you need to be doing, but you know this is not it. Perhaps you’re also looking at other people “adulting” and feel like you’re missing out. Take a break from social media – the Instagrams, LinkedIns, and Facebooks of the world.
Adulting is a struggle, but it is a different struggle for each of us. I talk more about the art of adulting and how to handle adulting here. Apart from the tips in that post, if you’re facing this situation, I advise you to:
- Give yourself some grace and self-compassion – You’re not perfect, nor will your life be. If you feel like you’re always messing up, ask for help. Reach out to friends. Celebrate your successes.
- Be patient with yourself as you figure it out – You don’t have all of the answers, and no adult does. You can read all the help books and put the Bible to memory, but you still won’t know everything. Instead, adopt a growth mindset and be open to learn new things.
- Know changing your mind is okay – some aspects of life are only good for us for a season – a church, a relationship, a job, a certain priority. And those things change from time to time. Don’t be afraid to let those things go and welcome “the new” into your life.
Related: How to Bloom Where God Plants You with Grace
Encouragement for those who don’t know what to do with their life
If you’ve made it to the end of this article, and the wheels in your brain are spinning, take a deep breath. You may not know what you are doing with your life, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, the adventure is just beginning. And it is a continuous journey of seeking out God’s will, navigating the adulting struggle, and engaging in self-discovery.
But you’re not alone in your plight to find what I’m doing with my life. In fact, you’d be surprised how many are wondering the same.
So take another deep breath, look at the five situations and reflect on which ones resonate the most with you. Write down your hopes, dreams, and feelings then pray. Ask God to lead you to His will and give you the courage to follow. While you’re wondering what am I doing with my life, God is here to meet you exactly where you are. Adulting is hard, friend, but you’re rocking it!
How would you answer what am I doing with my life?
Leave me a comment below!
Don’t miss this! More posts in the Living & Adulting Category
- 9 Best Adulting Blogs to Support You in the Adulting Struggle
- How to Handle Adulting with Flair and Faith
- How to Bloom Where God Plants You with Grace
- 100 Weekly Goal Ideas to Help Focus Your Life (+Template)
- 16 Top Tips for Goal Setting for Young Professionals
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