It is okay not to know what you want to do in life because it is normal, it is better than being on the wrong path, and nobody can judge you for it.
We all get stuck in life, probably more than once. In fact, always knowing what to do with your life is extremely abnormal. If you’re worried about not knowing what your next steps in life should be, take heart because I’m about to help you dissolve this concern.
Not knowing what to want to do in life is normal
We all come into this world wired to be better at some things and worse at others. We have our talents, strengths, gifts, and weaknesses. But, as statistics show, over 80% of all people in the western world (and probably in the East, as well) just meekly show up for the jobs.
Eighty percent is an overwhelming rate of people whose careers or jobs are a total mismatch with what they were meant to do in this world. In your case, you are either between jobs or likely have one that you’d love to quit. In either case, if you’re not sure what the next step is for you, you are in a vast company.
It is better not to know than to know and be wrong
A lot of people convince themselves that a certain path in life (we’re talking about a career path, primarily) is ideal for them and just launch into it. This seems like a good plan or a good position to be in life.
However, a large chunk of these people comprise that vast majority who eventually get to either hate or quietly tolerate their jobs. They are decisive, and that is a good quality. However, their decisions about what career path of vocation to invest themselves in are usually ill-informed.
They are usually motivated by answers to these questions:
- Is this a “money” industry?
- How easy is it to get a job in this field?
- Is there ample vacation time?
- How soon can I retire?
The first question – about money – is probably the best real question to ask. But it seems that people are mostly motivated by the last three. This explains why so many people become school teachers:
- It’s easy to get a job as a teacher
- You get summers off, which is awesome
- Retirement requirements are no too bad, either
But if someone makes a decision to become a teacher based on these factors, is that really a good decision? No, not really. In fact, it’s ill-informed.
If you don’t know what to do with the rest of your life, are you better off than a teacher who hates teaching and is just in it for the aforementioned benefits? Yes, you absolutely are because at least you are not stuck in the comfort zone called “quiet desperation.”
If you don’t know what to do in life, you are at least searching for answers. You’re not in a comfortable place right now. The uncertainty can feel scary and even a bit depressing, especially if you’ve been in this state for a while.
But the good news is that your options are open. You are not attached to a job, even if you have to depend on one for now just to keep a roof over your head. That’s fine. You probably have not invested an enormous amount of money and time into an education that now binds you to it.
I mean, think of a doctor who hates his job but who has taken out $300,000 in student loans and is now stuck in his profession. (Well, nobody is really ever truly stuck. But people perceive that they are.)
Can you imagine this situation? A study done by Medscape shows that 42% of all doctors are burned out, and burnout is, in a sense, a form of depression. This is a huge percentage, given that doctors make what is known as “good money.”
Remember that first question people ask when deciding on their career paths – the one about the money? Well, it looks like for a lot of doctors this was the primary motivation. And if you’re not in their shoes, then you are in good shape, comparatively.
If you don’t know, it is better than if you had known and were wrong, like all the people who have made their choices for all the wrong reasons.
What to do when you don’t know what to do in life
Here is a strategy you can begin to implement right now to not only feel better about this issue but to also begin solving it.
Surrender and accept not knowing
To accept reality as it is at the present moment is always the first step in solving any problem. Don’t argue with what is because that only creates tension.
To fully surrender to the reality as it is now does not mean to give up or give in to the situation. It is simply a way to relax into the unpleasant reality so you could begin to change it.
How do you do that? Meditate. Meditation cultivates your ability to witness things in real time and not react to them. Instead, you are now in a position to respond intelligently rather than react emotionally.
Let’s analyze the question to see a deeper issue.
So, you are asking yourself this question: “Is it okay for me not to know what I want to do in life?”
Let’s take a closer look at it to see if you should be asking this question at all. Because the question is actually quite insidious. Why?
Well, what does the question presuppose? It presupposes that someone out there is judging you. In other words, who is that someone out there who gets to decide if it’s okay or not okay for you to not know what to do with your life?
If this issue really bothers you, is it possible that you are unconsciously seeking permission or approval from someone else?
Do you need anyone’s permission to have a certain state of mind? Do you need permission from anyone to do anything at all (as long as it’s legal and ethical)?
Do you need anyone’s approval of anything you do or choose not to do? Does someone have to nod their head in approval of your decisions or actions?
Well, here’s an uncomfortable truth. If you believe that you do, then that is true for you. If you believe that you need someone’s approval, perhaps your father’s or someone else’s, then you do, and that colors your entire experience of life.
But what if you asked a totally different question?
“Is it okay for me not to know what I want to do in life?”
“What if I don’t know what I want to do in my life?”
Or, even better:
“How can I find out what I really want so I could go after it?”
This last one is a lot better because it takes you out of the problem frame of mind and puts you in the solution frame of mind.
Questions are very powerful because they make your brain produce answers. And when you ask yourself a question and get an answer, your mind believes it. So, be careful what questions you ask yourself.
Journaling is a great exercise; it is a form of self-therapy, and you can do it at any time. Here are a few things you could write down in your journal.
Write down an exciting vision for your life
An exercise you can do is called Your Ideal Day. In it, you go through an imaginary day in which everything is perfect, every aspect of your life. Just take yourself from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, activity by activity, and imagine doing and having all the things that you want and that are good for you in life.
While doing this, don’t worry about how to make that vision a reality. First get a vision, a dream that you can get excited about. Figuring out how to make it a reality is a process, and there are many ways to skin a cat.
Make the best plan you can at the moment
Once you have a vision that you love, just write down some kind of a plan the best way you can. Don’t try to be perfect. Just come up with steps one, two, three, and get them on paper.
Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to launch into action. And guess what – now you know what to do because all you need is the next step.
In psychology, there is a concept called the Corridor Principle. It states that you don’t have to see every step of the way to keep moving forward. Just keep taking one step at a time, and as you make progress through the corridor, you’ll begin to see doors, and some of them will open.
I hope this article really helped you deal with this question.
To your freedom,