“How do I figure out what to do with my life?”
It’s the question I get more than any other from clients who think I have some magic formula to spit out an answer for them.
Boy, are they disappointed when I say the only person who can determine your soul’s purpose is YOU.
Everyone knows what they want to do with their lives deep down. The only problem is that most of us think our dreams are too outlandish to pursue (they’re not, I promise you).
But how do you get below the surface enough to find the answers? These three activities will do the trick: a career inventory, the nine lives game, experimentation, and working with a coach.
I. The Career Inventory
Warning: The first of the three activities to figure out what to do with your life is a doozy.
This is going to be the most time-consuming task, but likely also the most beneficial. If you do it right, it will take you HOURS, maybe even over a few days to complete it. But do it right, and you’ll never need to do it again!
Alright, enough with the warnings. Here’s what you do:
- List every single job you’ve ever had, including babysitting the next door neighbors’ kids during high school and the week-long gig you quit in college.
- For each position, write detailed lists about what you loved and hated about each one.
- Once this is complete, go through and highlight all the repeating qualities.
- Make a list of the common qualities and determine if they are a “must” or a “bonus.”
A quick note: These need to be detailed. So, rather than writing “bad boss,” get descriptive. What was particularly bad? Were they poor communicators? Micro-manager? Too hands off? Aggressive? Not aggressive enough? The more detailed, the better your final list.
Once you have this list, you’ll essentially have self-guidance on what opportunities to pursue and a list of needs you have from a job or career choice. It will improve the quality of your job interviews, as you now know what you need to thrive in a position or work place.
II. Nine Lives Game
Hopefully, you find the second of the three activities to figure out what to do with your life more fun. Feel free to start with this one if you feel so called.
Cool news! You now get nine lives to live and each one is going to be divine!
Here are the rules:
- Money is not an issue. You will be successful and have as much money as you could possibly want no matter what choices you make.
- Everyone is going to approve of your career. That includes family, friends, and society at large. Everyone is going to respect you and what you do.
- You will have all the necessary education, training, and/or certification to do the job. Think your bad at math? Think again. If you need it to do the job in that lifetime, you’re a math whiz!
Now, pick a career to pursue in each of your lives.
What similarities can you pick out of the nine? Are there underlying themes like problem-solving, working alone, working with people, creativity, etc.? This will help you dream again and get a better idea of what your core desires are.
You can’t think your way to your life’s purpose
With the exception of trusted brands I’ve worn for years (looking at you, LOFT), I never buy clothes without trying them on. I’m short and curvy and some brands just don’t seem to believe ladies can have T&A under 5’5″.
My sizing is unique, and unless I want to spend money getting them tailored, I need to try them on to ensure they fit a certain way.
No amount of thinking is going to help me determine what’s truly going to look good on me or not. I can’t try on clothes in my head.
Why, then, would I choose something as important as a career without trying it out first?
Part of why it feels hard to find your life’s purpose is because we’re afraid of making a mistake. Well, by trying out the career first, you are severely reducing the chance of making one!
And when the stakes are low, so are your insecurities. No one cares if they were bad at something they don’t want to do their whole lives anyway.
If you’re interested in a potential path, it’s your duty to get as much information and experimentation in as possible before committing.
This is the entire mindset behind internships. The only problem? There generally aren’t internships with pay that’s helpful enough to foster a career switch.
That brings us to No. 3.
III. Experiment, volunteer, shadow
That leaves the final activity to figure out what to do with your life, and it involves a few different methods. Basically, you get to try out your passion and see if it’s what you imagine doing every day for the rest of your life:
- Experiment – Teach a free class, take on pro bono clients, or else do something that will give you a taste of what it’s like to work at that.
- Volunteer – Basically the same as experimenting, except others are giving you guidance to improve along the way. You’ll likely have a supervisor and co-volunteers that will replicate the feeling of this passion being your work.
- Shadow – Get in touch with someone who already does this work and ask them if you could follow them around for a day or afternoon and see what it’s like to work in that profession. This is what I did in high school that made me realize I did NOT want to be a doctor.
Note: If you can’t take an entire day or afternoon off to shadow, talking to someone who has the career you want over coffee or lunch could provide a sufficient replacement. Most people are happy to help; you just need to ask.
BONUS Activity: Hire a coach
If all these methods feel overwhelming, working with a coach would be your best bet.
Sure, you could save the money and figure it out by yourself, but working with a coach will save you TIME. And if time is money, then I’ve got some news for you.
Back when I was confused about why my dream job was no longer satisfying me, I hired a coach to help me through the process. That’s how I figured out it was time for me to try my hand in the nonprofit world. (Of course, it didn’t stick, but that clarity was all I needed at the time.)
Return on investment is a real factor to consider. So, if your investment is zero, your return is naturally going to be lower.
But when you invest in yourself, you give your money a chance to grow so you can earn back the initial investment and then some.
It might feel like you’re paying a coach, but in actuality, you’re investing in yourself. The coach is just the method through which you invest.
working with me
When people work with me to figure out their life’s purpose, I take them through quite the process.
I give them an intuitive reading, translate the jumbled thoughts about their careers, identify whether they would most like a traditional career or entrepreneurship, and then we strategize a plan to build confidence and momentum either toward a new job or a business.
More than 60% of my job hunting clients land their dream jobs at their dream salaries within 30-90 days. The rest clock in slightly over that timeline.
As for businesses, my clients go through a massive uplevel that sees them step up their confidence, marketing, and sales skills so they can leave their shitty careers behind and finally find the freedom they crave.
Not sure which you are? Book a FREE 30-minute discovery call with me today.