How to know what you want to do in life

“What do I want to do with my life?” is a question that seems to plague a surprisingly large number of people of all ages and background.

Young people about to enter college experience this when it’s time to choose their majors. But adults often have it worse, especially those who had spent more than half of their lives doing what they thought was their calling—only to wake up one day and realize that they no longer want to go to work. And the confusion and the frustration of not knowing what to do or where to go is often compounded by one common factor: fear.

University students feel pressured to choose one major and stick to it for 4 years for fear of wasting time, energy, and money on something that might not guarantee employment after graduation. On the other hand, adults who find themselves at this crossroad much later in life feel that time is running out: they have to find what they want to do quickly so they can get started right away; otherwise, they would rather just stay where they are rather than waste time on things that may not give them the level of satisfaction or rewards that they want.

But life coach Celestine Chua, founder of Personal Excellence, believes that to get an idea of what you want to do, you need to refer to your past experiences. And you won’t get those experiences unless you go out there and try out different things.

She used an interesting example to illustrate her point: if you want to buy a mobile phone, are you going to just sit at home, mulling over what model you should buy and waiting for an answer to pop in your head out of nowhere? Or will you go out there and explore and even try out different mobile phone models and brands?

To put it simply:

It’s like asking what’s your favorite sport when you’ve never exercised in your life. Or what’s your favorite book when you only read less than a book a year. Or what’s your favorite restaurant when you don’t eat out at all.

The fog will remain as long as you stay still. It’ll still be uncertain, hazy, possibly confusing and disempowering. To clear out the fog, you need to explore. You need to get out there and start trying out different things. You need to gain experience, to pick up new knowledge, to get into new situations. By building up as many of these experiences as possible, you create a baseline reference point in your mind. The more experiences you get, the more knowledgeable you become, the clearer you are of what you don’t like and what you do like, and the more you discover what you don’t want to do and what you DO want to do.

Ms. Chua also shared how she discovered what she truly wanted to do in life—by going all out in pursuing all her goals and interests and putting all heart and soul in everything that she did. In the process she was able to learn new things about herself and discovered her strengths, what she liked and didn’t like, and what she values—all of which helped her gain a clearer perspective of how she wanted to live out her life.

To know Ms. Chua’s 5-step process on how to get started on finding what you want to do, read the full article How To Know What You Want To Do In Life at Personal Excellence blog.