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What Should I Do with My Life?

what should I do with my life

I’m pretty sure you’ve asked yourself this question at some point in your life. 

The problem starts at a pretty young age. 

Not too long ago, my nine year old niece was stressed out because she doesn’t have any hobbies.

“Why are you worrying about this now?” I asked her.

“Because hobbies determine what I’m going to be when I grow up,” she told me.

The pressure to figure out your “passion” starts when you’re a kid. You see successful athletes, writers, singers, artists. How did they get there?

They must have passion and talent.

Passion + talent = the secret sauce that you don’t figure out until later in life.

When you get to college, you’re told to pick a major. At this point you’ve had about 18 years to get your shit together. So if you don’t yet know what you want to do, just pick a train, get on it, and you’ll figure things out later.

So you pick a train and head on your way.

Eventually there’s a ladder to climb, money to make, promotions to acquire.

But hold up. Something just isn’t right. Is this really the right direction, one that you had to make because you weren’t self aware enough or experienced enough at the age of 18 to make the right decision?

You know it’s not.

So, what should you do with your life now that you know this isn’t it?

There is a formula to figuring this out. Self awareness and strategy are critical.

When you identify your mission, the work you want to do, mostly you cut out the bullshit. You learn to make decisions. Life becomes simpler, better, more fulfilling. 

So how do you identify your mission?

We have a 3-step framework here at Work Bigger, which you can download here.

Also, here three ways to get started.

What Do You Care About?

You may be feeling lost because you care about more than one thing. 

Recently, I stumbled on clarifying my big mission for this website. I gravitate to education, gender inequality, the career space and mental health. I’m also drawn to social impact, and I can’t seem to get creativity out of my mind.  

How do you make sense of so many interests? How do you pick one?

I stopped. I took a step back. Because making an impact is important to me and because it’s a key value for our generation, I asked myself “What social issues am I drawn to?”

I made a list.

  • Gender inequality
  • The Black Lives Matter movement
  • The environment
  • Education and creativity
  • Mental Health
  • Career

Now it’s out of my head, down on paper. 

Dig Deeper. Why These Issues?

Do these issues spark any memories? Are they connected to any personal experiences?

Likely, yes. Here’s how I break mine down.

  • Gender inequality: I’m a woman, so I directly feel the impact gender inequality has on our society. I feel especially frustrated when I see my female friends struggling to ask for raises and promotions.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement: Loss of life and inequity are unacceptable. Also, we teach reaching your full potential here at Work Bigger. How can Black people reach their full potential when the system is designed to keep them down? It doesn’t add up. We need to do better. 
  • The environment: The environment gives us life. I want to see our environment protected.
  • Education and creativity: In school, I focused heavily on getting good grades, succeeding, getting the reward. But this impacted my ability to be creative and think critically, which impacted my professional life and approach to problem solving.  
  • Mental health: In the past I used to approach problems with anxiety and stress. I know this is no way to live or make an impact. 
  • Career: I struggled in my twenties to figure out what I wanted to do. The result was a lot of stress, anxiety and wasted time.

All of these areas have some personal connection to me, my experiences and my growth. Pinpointing the reason behind the interest allows us to have greater clarity. Relief and understanding follow. 

So next is focusing.

What’s the Connection?

Rather than asking yourself, “Where do I focus?” or “How do I parlay these interests into a career?” ask yourself, “What themes do I see?”

All of these issues are connected.

My education and perceptions around creativity impacted my career, which of course also touches on gender inequality in the workplace.

The environment, Black Lives Matter and mental health contribute to a better world and society for everyone – they fuel our ability as individuals to reach our full potential.

So What Do You Do with This Information?

Having awareness of what you care about and knowing why you care about it brings you much closer to identifying what you want to do.

You don’t have to pick one and be set with your life. You can combine one, two or three of the issues to come up with a new solution. 

Also, when you dig deeper beyond the surface, you can see what you’re gravitating to – there’s a theme that’s bigger than the specific interest. 

The best next step is to start exploring opportunities in these areas. Start finding communities and meetups that talk about these issues.

Do some market research. What job opportunities currently exist?

Go broad before you focus on your next steps. Live the questions.

What questions do you have? Share them in the comments.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

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