10 Ways to Know What to Do With Your Life

These tips will help if you’re wondering “what should I do with my life?” I come back to this question every couple of years; these ideas always help me get back on the right path.

I’ve finally settled into the purpose of my existence and job – and it feels great! I’m 46, and it took over 30 years to finally know what to do with my life. I have a sense of peace and joy, of excitement and security. I’ve struck that balance between risk and stability, adventure and certainty that I am exactly where I should be. You can feel this way, too – and I can almost guaranteed it won’t take you 30 years.

You, too, will find your place in this world! It may take some time, but you’ll stop wrestling with the “What should I do with my life?” question and start living with purpose and meaning. You’ll learn how to avoid meaningless things in your life, and you’ll be free from confusion and indecision.

The funniest and weirdest thing about this question – “What should I do with my life?” is that you’ll probably ask it again and again. As I said, I’ve wondered over and over what to do with my life. This is part of being human, and of living in such a transient, connected, social world. We move faster, we change course more quickly, and we have more options available to us.

This can be difficult to adjust to, especially if you’re my age! I’m 46, and grew up in an era of more stability and less creative options. Here’s what I’ve learned, and what helped me finally figure my life out…

10 Ways to Figure Out What to Do With Your Life

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau.

I’ll pair an insightful life quote with every tip, because quotes can bring ideas to life in powerful ways. At the end of this article, tell me which quote or idea resonated the most with you. Think about this as you read through these tips – because the quote that resonated with you is the one that will help you know what to do with your life.

1. Succeed and fail at a variety of things

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it. –Art Williams.

I never knew what to do with my life, so I did lots of different things! My latest achievement is learning a difficult piece of flute music and performing at a recital, which I describe in How to Play the Flute on Stage When You’re Terrified. That was so hard, but I learned that I do not want to spend my life learning music for hours and then performing in a concert for minutes. I also don’t like be watched. It’s not easy to try different things – and fail, and succeed – but it’s the best way to know what to do with your life.

2. Keep trying something different and new (to you)

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E. M. Forster.

Maybe your parents planned that you’d be a mechanical engineer, but you’re planning to be an airplane mechanic. Maybe you planned to get married and have 7 kids, but God planned for you to be single and childless. One of the best ways to know what to do with your life is to accept your circumstances for what they are. Even better — embrace them! You will go far if you learn how to accept, surrender and enjoy your life for what it is.

3. Picture yourself as an octogenarian (80 year old)

“A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.” – Eudora Welty.

When I was 27 I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to live big and adventurous, so when I looked back as an 89 year old I could see that my life was exciting! That helped me know what to do with my life: my perspective at the end of my life. Picture yourself as an octogenarian (an 80 plus year old) – what do you want to have accomplished or experienced in your life? What do you want to leave behind?

4. Prepare to slay the dragons

“It’s not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” – unknown.

Did you know the biggest, most powerful and scary dragons are within you? You are your own worst enemy, and you have more power to hold yourself back or propel yourself forward than anyone else in the world. When you’re thinking about what to do with your life, don’t allow your fears, insecurities, self-doubts, or inability to stand up to others get in your way. You have to identify and fight those dragons.

5. Turn your back on the crowd

“A woman who wants to lead the orchestra must turn her back on the crowd.” – unknown.

I love this tip for figuring out what to do with your life because I had to apply it at the concert last week, when I played my flute. I had to set aside all my self-consciousness and ego, turn my back on the crowd (figuratively, mostly), and play my heart out.

And that’s also what I how I know what to do with my life: I let go of my fears and worries about what others think. Of course, this is difficult if you’re dependent on others (if you still live at home, you might find How to Cope With Controlling Parents helpful).

6. Be realistic about your abilities, personality, and plans

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill.

When I was 29, I thought I knew what to do with my life. I went to Africa and taught grade 8 Language Arts and high school Journalism at an American school for missionaries’ and ex-pats’ kids. It was wrong for me. Not the Africa part, the teaching part. I wasn’t being realistic about my personality and temperament. Teachers of middle and high school students should have extroverted personality traits.

If you’re an introvert, read Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone.

7. Don’t give up so soon!

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein.

Figuring out what to do with your life is a process that you have to stick with for a long time. It’s not a problem. It’s not an obstacle. It’s not a weakness! It’s actually a privilege that you should be grateful to have. Billions of people don’t have the luxury of deciding what to do with their lives. Their main purpose is finding enough food to eat today, or fleeing a civil war, or taking care of a child with mental or physical challenges. I am thankful that I’ve always had the freedom to decide what to do with my life…for it is a blessing.

8. Respond to changes in the wind

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward.

So I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The truth is that I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life…but I got distracted. I chased all sorts of different types of university degrees that didn’t involve writing: my degrees are in Psychology, Education, and Social Work. I’ve worked at more than 65 jobs in my life, and none of them worked for me. Until I started blogging. I tried getting traditionally published with a book published, but that didn’t work for me either. So I blog. And I love it.

To learn how I Blossomed into my blogs, read How I Became a Blogger – Laurie’s Story.

9. Accept endings gracefully and gratefully

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” – Ivy Baker Priest.

10 Ways to Know What to Do With Your Life
10 Ways to Know What to Do With Your Life

When I didn’t get a book publishing contract, I thought it was the end for me as a writer. Wrong! I found – I mean created – something even better: my Blossom blogs.

Maybe you’re wondering what to do with your life because of an ending in your life. Maybe you’re graduating from grade 12, or you dropped out of school in grade 9. Maybe you’re getting divorced after 25 years of marriage, or your fiance left you at the altar. Maybe your dreams of being an athlete are destroyed because of an injury, or you got rejected from all the colleges you applied to.

These are endings…and they are beginnings. They will help you learn how to find your dream job.

10. Trust that you will find what your purpose in life is

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11. If you follow Jesus, read An Easy Way to Stop Overthinking God’s Will for Your Life.

Have faith that if you keep moving forward and trying new things, you will figure out what to do in life. Believe that God knows you – after all, He created you! – and that He has plans for you. You have a purpose here, and He has good things in store for you.

But you have to act. You can’t just search the internet for “what to do with my life.” You have to try different things, fail, succeed, recalibrate, and keep moving forward.

What to Do Next

Pretend you could live any life you wanted. What is your ideal, perfect life? Who do you want to be, where do you want to go, and what will you do when you get there? Feel free to share your dreams in the comments section below. Also consider…what is holding you back, and how can you get out of your own way?

what to do in my life

Read How will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton Christensen. He and his coauthors James Allworth and Karen Dillon discuss a series of fundamental questions that everyone asks themselves at some point in their lives:

  • How can I be sure that I’ll find satisfaction in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?
  • How can I avoid compromising my integrity – and stay out of jail?

“I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered while at school,” says Christensen. “If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life.”

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” – Winnie the Pooh.

Your big and little comments are welcome below! Share your experience, and respond to other readers’ comments. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you figure out what you really want to do with your life.


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19 thoughts on “10 Ways to Know What to Do With Your Life”

  1. Thanks for a good read, and you don’t know how lucky you are always having known what you wanted to do/be when you grew up. I have two siblings like that – one a solicitor, the other a very successful doctor. Me? well I’m srill fighting (at the age of 53),ro find my calling. I work in IT mainly because it pays wel), but it’s notu passio,which I believe has something to do with animals…anf then there’s the major depression I’ve been trying to fight since my late teens… Depression is such a thief of all things goo,lwaoa baren she’ll of a person.
    As for my favourite quote?.. well it’s this one :
    “Everybody is a Genius. But If You judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”
    — Albert Einstein

    Or it could also be this :
    “Great minds discuss ideas, average ones discuss events, and small minds discuss people – Eleanor Roosevelt”

  2. I’m constantly angry my brother left a little over 3,years ago. When he first left I became uncharictaristly patient. It gmhas escalsted to more impatience than before. I don’t know how to get back to level ground.

  3. My ideal, perfect life is to have been born into the British royal family. How do I make that happen? I’ve been visualizing really hard but the results have been disappointing.

  4. I feel pointless as a person. I am always single and lonely. I’ve come to the conclusion that I mustn’t be good enough for anyone to bother with. I have recently lost my mum and my dad died many years ago. I’m currently unemployed and don’t see any reason to have a job when I have nobody to contribute to. I am currently writing poetry and I have been urged to get my poetry published. I have difficulty thinking of myself as having a talent. I also have difficulty thinking that I could matter to anyone.

  5. Thanks Laurie for your beautiful article. I am glad I came across your Blog by chance! I am hoping I will be able to help myself through your words of wisdom and figure out the right path for my life ahead. I have had very messy and confusing 2years of my life. I feel that at last I am coming to the end of this grey chapter of my life. I am totally in agreement with your advice to let God take control of our lives and direct us. I put my trust in God and hope to come to the shinning light of his mighty power. Thank you.

  6. The Holy Spirit I believe led me to this site..Thank God and thank YOU. Initially I have been feeling as though the whole world is caving in on me. Divorce, ungrateful kids, and the list continues, every word you said inspires me. However, for the last couple of weeks I have been reciting to myself Jeremiah 29:11 so I was glad when you quoted Jeremiah it gave me confirmation. I know that God is guiding my steps, but it seems that my dream of becoming a lawyer (and people don’t help) your too this or too that or don’t have enough of this or that is overwhelming. And not but since I don’t But God , and if I did not know Christ for myself I would doubt just like them , Nothing is too hard or God, so as difficult as it seems sometimes I’m going on continue to pray, trust and believe a God to ty that can part the Red Sea raise the dead , is surely going to finish His work in me. So, writing does help and yes, going outside and being in His presence helps also. Please feel free to respond. People may be finished with me, God is not. Blessings and thanks or the good reads

  7. Dear Cheryl,

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom and brother. It sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with – especially with back surgery and your husband leaving you. That seems like it would make it even harder to know what to do with your life! Health issues and personal problems do tend to muddy the waters and make things tough.

    I can only imagine how helpless and hopeless you must feel. You want to go back to school and leave this unhealthy relationship you’re in, but you feel alone and scared. My heart goes out to you, and I wish you didn’t have to face these problems.

    But something tells me that you’re a survivor. You’ve been through hard times, and you pull yourself out of them in the past. You know what it’s like to be down… And you know what it’s like to rise up again! I have a strong feeling that you will figure out what to do with your life, and that you will rise out of the valley you’re currently walking in.

    Is there something you can do today, to help you get one step closer to your goal of leaving this relationship and going back to school?

  8. Hi Laurie, I been though hard times myself. My mom and brother both passed away. Then I ended up with back surgery. My husband left me. Had to take my children to there Dad (my first husband) because I was left with nothing and could not support them. Ended up with 3 more surgeries. Finally after 1 1/2 years I got back to work. Loved my job. Things were looking up.Finally! My kids were going to come back! I
    I wanted to go to college to become an RN….. Then, I got hurt,….again! on the job after working 2 years. Ended up in surgery again. This time it was more serious surgery than the others. They cut me from both sides of my body. Fused my spine in 3 places. I’m now disabled…
    Now 21/2 years later I moved in with my boyfriend. Now that was the wrong move. We fight continuesly. He has physically hurt me twice. I want to get out but I can’t work and I have not even received disability yet. I have no income and I’m stuck. My life has been nothing but turmoil. Yes I feel truly alone.i want to go to school again so I can learn something new. I’m so confused and scared. I have no where to go. I’m in pain a lot. On top of that I’m allergic to medications. I can only take Motrin or Aleve for my pain. Sometimes I feel God walked out on me too.

  9. Hi Carol,

    Even if I knew how to give advice – which I don’t! – I wouldn’t know where to start. I barely know what to do with my own life, much less yours!

    What advice have other people given you? When you took their suggestions and made changes in your life, how did it work? Maybe you could start there. If their advice didn’t work, maybe you could modify it and try something new.

    I’m not sure if you signed up for my She Blossoms newsletter — I share all my new articles in it. Here’s my latest post:

    7 Things to Remember When You Feel Like No One Cares

    Maybe it’ll give you an idea! At the very least, maybe you could pick one of the four options and commit yourself to exploring it more fully 🙂


  10. Lori , thanks for being here for me… I wish you could give me some advice ? on what to do … I’m just so Overwelmed , and lost ….. With my life!!! Thank you

  11. Hey JAK,

    Great to hear from you! I love the idea of free will, but in relation to God it means that we have the freedom to choose to believe and follow Him…or not. I don’t think it means we can decide exactly how our lives will turn out 🙂

    Have you figured out what to do with your life? Your energy, determination, and enthusiasm will take you a long way!


  12. “Maybe you planned to get married and have 7 kids, but God planned for you to be single and childless.”
    Are you joking???? God gave us free will and if you want to be a wife you will be a wife and if you want to be a mom with 19 kids, it will happen!!!!!!

  13. Dear Carol,

    It sounds like you’ve had to deal with alot in one year! All that grief and shock can definitely make it more difficult to know what to do with your life.

    When I feel lost and unhappy, I turn to Ecclesiastes in the Bible. There’s something comforting in the wise writer’s words, even though they’re full of pain and loneliness! Maybe that’s why it helps me. The writer – I think it’s King Solomon – is sharing how meaningless life is, how lonely, sad, and alone he feels. He says nothing makes him happy, not money or wine or even wisdom. He ends by saying that the only solution is to fear God and obey His commandments.

    Why that makes me feel better, I don’t know! I guess it’s because it helps me see that we’re all suffering, we all go through bouts of loneliness and meaninglessness…even people who lived more than 2,000 years felt the lostness and unhappiness we feel. It’s just part of being alive.

    That’s what helps me feel better – and it even helps me know what to do with my life!

    What makes you feel better? What gives you purpose and meaning in life?

  14. I’m totally lost and unhappy with my life… I have no ambition at all. After my divorce, my parents passing away, and I had to sell my house, all in the same year …Everything caved in on me… I’m on disability because of what happened… Please Help !!! Thank you