If you’re wondering “what do I want to do in life,” you’re probably a little scared – or completely terrified, especially at middle age.
You might believe you’re supposed to have it figured out by now, but since hardly anybody does, you can probably let go of that one already.
We all know that one person who has always known they wanted to run for governor when they grew up (or something like that) and from that day forward every decision they made was with that goal in mind.
Meanwhile we couldn’t decide what to eat for dinner.
But those people are the exception to the rule.
You’ve had a certain amount of success, but at this phase in your life it might seem that some of the busyness is over and you can start to focus less on making money and taking care of other people, and more on figuring out what’s really important to you.
So how do you do it?
Get A Little Crazy
I’ve talked about this subject before when we talked about whether it was possible to love your work.
You should read that article too, but this will break it down very simply.
The first step when answering the “What Do I Want To Do In Life?” question is to get a little crazy. By that I mean you need to let go of the rational part of your mind for a little bit and allow yourself to dream.
We’re all taught to be so practical and constrain ourselves to what makes sense, so when our minds begin to wander into thinking about something that would be amazing for us, we quickly shut it down by coming up with all the reasons we can’t, or shouldn’t or would never (you get the idea) do that thing.
So the second you begin daydreaming about what it might be like to be a best-selling author, you immediately tell yourself that it’s never gonna happen, and you put that idea right back where it came from.
Then you set your mind to thinking about what you want to do with your life, but you limit yourself to ideas that seem rational, logical, and possible.
The reality is that there’s no way that you can get to the root of what you really want by choosing only among what feels possible.
What you want is about your emotions – what you feel – but what is possible and rational is about what you think.
So the first step to figuring out what you want to do with your life is to connect on a deep level with your emotional longing.
You may have to contend with fears, difficulty finding passions, or a real difficulty putting aside your practicality, but once you can do it, move on to step 2.
Step 2: Getting Real – What Do I Want To Do In Life, Really?
Ok, let’s say you’ve been able to set aside those voices in your head that are limiting you.
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones who has found their dream job and can go and pursue it, now is the time to get real.
You’ve figured out that you have a deep love for everything related to astronomy for example, but you really aren’t interested in going back to school, starting your career over, getting paid what you’d have to be paid or maybe even doing whatever astronomists actually do (you just like the fun stuff).
This is where you can’t be literal. You need to think outside the box.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Am I interested or prepared to do what it takes to do my dream job?
- If not, is there something closely related that would make me just as happy?
If you’re striking out on those questions, here’s the big bomber:
3. What is it that I love about my dream job? Can I extract that element and apply it to something that works for the lifestyle I want?
If you can understand the essence of what you love – and often it’s more than one thing – you may be able to figure out a career that has similar elements, but that also matches the lifestyle that works for you.
For example, you might figure out you love the idea of being an astronomer because it’s inspiring, it’s about discovery, and you get to be around other brilliant people.
But, it’s a deal breaker for you to go back for a physics Ph.D.
So where else could you meet your requirements (inspiration, discovery, brilliant people), and not have to go to school to do it?
It will probably take some research and some careful thought to come up with ideas that work for you, but once you do, you have an idea that is both exciting and practical.
With just two steps you can get really clear on your dream career. The key is allowing yourself to dream in step 1 and know that you’re not making any commitments at that point. That realization should give you the safety and freedom to drop your rational mind for a while.
Does this article help you get closer to your dream life and career? Leave a question or comment below and share on your social networks! Thank you so much!! xoxo