If you’ve asked yourself, “what should I do with my life?”, you should know that you’re not alone in your inquiry. That exact question “what should I do with my life?” is a high volume search in google. That means there are many, many other people out there in the world, sitting on their phones, wondering what life holds for them. Which path should they take? What will make them happy? What will give them the best outcome later in life?
Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you’re probably wondering what to do in life. Whether you’re a recent grad, trying to decide on a major, changing careers, or just trying to find your passion, you’ve found the right post.
First, if you have no idea where the first step is towards figuring out what you should do in life, start exploring. Try new things. Expand your horizons. All that stuff. In US culture, even beginning in high school, people push for your to determine what you’re doing in life. They ask where you’re going to college, what you’re going to study, what career you want. You probably did career assessments and went to college/career fairs. If you express interest in one direction (not the band), you were probably encourage to keep going in that route, even if you weren’t sure that’s what you wanted.
If you’re around 14-20, you’re probably going through internal struggles like that right now. You probably don’t know exactly what interests you yet. That’s ok. You’re young. Take the time you have to explore new interests. See if you really do love biology or if organic chemistry is more intriguing. Even if you are receiving external pressure to focus on one thing, that doesn’t mean you can’t try other things in your free time. Try different extracurriculars. Read some books. Get a part time job in whatever field you want to try.
In addition, if you’re going college route, you’ll have to take general education courses, which will basically force you to learn about topics you most likely would not have ventured into on your own.
When I was nearing the end of high school, I was interested in going into early childhood education. So I worked as a teacher at a church and a substitute teacher for a preschool. That was enough to encourage me to start taking early childhood education courses at the local community college.
- Read blog posts on careers and hobbies (eg, our fitness section)
- Make a Pinterest board on topics
- Reach out to people regarding learning about their careers (eg: I went on a ride-along when I was interested in law enforcement. I sent a letter to a person my mom knew in the Department of Defense and that led to meeting with an FBI agent.)
- Get a job or internship in a line of work you’re considering
If you feel like you’re on your own, you might have trouble feeling ok with trying new things and making big decisions on what to do in life. One easy way to remedy that is to seek out support. Find other people who are also equally as confused about their life path. If you have good relationships with your family members, tell them what you’re doing and thinking about your future. If you’re not getting support from people close to you, find other people that will support you. I mean unless your ideas for your life are complete garbage like trying to rob banks as a career or something like that, you deserve support while you’re figuring out yourself and your life.
By support, I mean encouragement, listening, and conversation with others. I do not mean just blind “yes, do whatever you want in life” type of support. I know that my family loves me, but if I came up with some bizarre idea to bejewel ceiling fans as a career, they would probably redirect me elsewhere or be there to make sure I was ok and learned my lesson after that failed and push me towards a more sensible career.
Evan and I have been privileged in our journey to figure out what we’re doing with our lives. Both of us have received support from others. My family has supported me in changing majors, moving across states, trying different hobbies, and getting in a relationship with Evan. Evan’s family supported him in joining the Marine Corps and going to college. We also support each other.
- Visit your college’s career center
- Talk to an academic counselor
- Speak to friends
- Join Facebook groups (eg: I’m in one called Subtle Asian Networking, which has a lot of people asking about careers, what to do after college, etc.)
- Share what your plans are with your family and friends
Determine Like vs. Love
In the US, people focus a lot on what their “passion” is. So if you’re like me, you’ve probably spent a significant amount of time trying to finally learn what your passion is. If you already know your passion, then you wouldn’t be reading this post. The previous two paragraphs go over how you can start trying to find your passion. This section continues that direction. In order to find your so-called passion, you’ll have to separate your interests into likes and loves.
I like art. I like painting, drawing, theatre, dance, etc. Visual and performing arts are fun for me. But I wouldn’t say I love art enough to pursue art as a career. If you love doing art constantly, then that is something worth considering as a career path. One word of caution though, sometimes if you choose to do something you love for your income, you may stop loving it to the same degree as when it was just a hobby or interest. I personally haven’t experienced that, but I know that the mental difference between wanting to do something vs having to do something can make an enjoyable task feel forced. I don’t have examples for this because it’s all up to you. You can’t go to someone else and have them help you figure out whether you like or love something. This is a you thing.
Notice Whether You Like Something or if You’re Just Good at It
In addition to knowing what you like vs what you love, you’ll also have to pay attention to what you enjoy doing vs what you’re good at doing. Sometimes if you’re naturally good at something, you’ll be encouraged to keep doing that even if you don’t really like it. Eventually you might think that you love doing it, but you may just like the feeling you get from being good at it. You might like the attention you get from others for being successful in that realm. It’s important to analyze what you really like about the activity. If it’s not the actual activity itself, then you might consider trying other things.
- If you’re good at dance, do you love performing or love the routine of practicing? Think about other things that involve either performing or routines. You may find something else you enjoy more.
- If you’re naturally talented at public speaking, but don’t really love it, you might do well in a career that involves public speaking, but isn’t only public speaking.
- If you’re great at numbers, maybe your career will involve numbers, but you could keep something else you truly love as a hobby.
Be Realistic/Have a Backup Plan
Evan and I are not the type of people to tell you not to follow your dreams. We have lofty goals, but we stay realistic and have backup plans. You may be reading this because there is something you love to do, but it isn’t easy or conventional, so you’re feeling unsure about what you should really do with your life. First, if you’re determined and really want something, go for it. If you’re kinda wishy-washy about it, then keep at it, but you might stop along the way. In both situations, it is important to have a backup plan and avoid being ignorant.
Lets say you want to be a Tony-winning actor by 30, but you’ve never stepped foot on stage at 18. That’s going to be a tough journey. It’s not impossible, but unlikely. Who knows, you might be a natural. However, don’t go in with the assumption that you’ll reach that goal easily. It will take work, and even then you might not get there. Don’t stop trying to reach your goals, just be aware of how hard it is going to be and that you may not succeed, no matter how good you are. You’re not in control of everything. That’s how life is. In order to be realistic, it would be wise to start at the beginning. Take acting classes, do community theatre, that sort of stuff. Don’t just move to New York with no experience and think that you’ll somehow be able to out-act everyone else who did the same thing. Be smart with how you’re trying to reach your goals.
I’ll continue with the hypothetical actor scenario. So, if you’re going to school to get BFA and you’re planning on moving to New York after graduation, the next step is to set up your backup plan. If you don’t make it on Broadway, what are you going to do? Having a backup plan doesn’t mean that you’re less likely to reach your goals (unless you really like your backup plan and give up on your goals). It just means that you have a second option just in case you don’t reach your goals or if you want a career change later on.
On a personal note, I would like to blog/influence full time. Now that is pretty unrealistic at the moment because I don’t have enough content for Instagram and I don’t have enough time to work on the blog as much as would be necessary to monetize it. So, I am working my regular full-time job and keeping the blog and Instagram as a hobby/side hustle. Evan is doing well with trading, and due to the consistency he’s gained over time, it is realistic for him to pursue that as his actual career. However, he is still going to school for a business degree as his backup.
Know that You’re Not Stuck (Conclusion)
Just because you decide you want to pursue one path as a career, that doesn’t mean you are limited to that one path forever. If you completely love something now, go into it wholeheartedly. Later on, if you stop loving it, that is fine. You’re not stuck in that career for the rest of your life. Contrary to what society may tell you, it is ok to change your mind. It is fine to work one job for 20 years and then pick a completely different career path. It is absolutely ok if you haven’t found a passion. Maybe you discover you love living a more bohemian lifestyle and don’t even think to ask “what should I do with my life?” anymore. We don’t know what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives, so we definitely don’t have the answer to what you should do with your life. But, we hope this post could help guide you in figuring it out yourself.