Have you ever looked up to the stars, to the vast Universe that exists just beyond our understanding, and wondered, “What am I doing with my life? What is this all for? What purpose am I fulfilling in my life? And forget tomorrow for a second. How am I going to get through today?”
I’ve wondered these exact thoughts, and I’m guessing you have too? Haven’t we all?
The problem is that there isn’t a perfect answer. Sorry to burst your bubble. No one has a perfect answer for you and your unique situation. Everyone has hidden struggles and battles raging in their closets. Life is an unpredictable joyous mess, isn’t it?
Instead of giving you fake answers and short-term solutions, I will empower you to question. Thinking about a few tough questions can get your mind thinking in ways you never expected. By the end of this post I bet you’ll have a better understanding of yourself and how you roll.
I want to encourage you to forge ahead and discover life change for yourself.
We all wonder what purpose life has for us. Why are we even here to begin with? This post will help you move in the right direction and get you started toward meaningful change. Taking action is hard, but these simple questions will help you pivot in a positive direction.
We all have to decide what to do with our lives. We can live a life of no regrets or find ourselves disappointed in our later years. It’s a choice worth pondering, and it’s a choice I will help you with.
These questions are perfect for anyone stuck in a job they hate, a college student with little direction, or a someone facing a midlife crisis.
Keep in mind though, that our answers here may change. We may have found ourselves in a job we used to love, but now we despise.
It is up to you to decide how to move forward with your life, no one can (or should!) tell you what to do. It’s up to you to question and to continue to seek a greater understanding of how YOU operate. Not only will it benefit you, but you will impact others by finding your life purpose.
My hope is you will be able to answer the question you have been wondering for too long, what am I doing with my life?
The first step is asking that question, and doing what you can to take positive action steps towards that goal.
Question 1: What Would I do If I could Do Anything?
This question is one of my favorites to ask. Why? Because it breaks us outside of the box for a hot minute. It gives us the chance to dream. It allows us to see what “Could be” in a world that is too often “Should be” or “Can’t be.”
When you ask this question don’t limit your thinking. Brainstorm a list of everything you would like to do with your life.
One effective way to do this is to build a list of fifty life goals for yourself. Break it down this way (as Mark Matteson does in his book on productivity):
- What are ten things I would like to do? (Example: Write 25 books)
- What are ten things I would like to see? (Example: The Pyramids)
- What are ten things I would like to be? (Example: An International Speaker)
- What are ten fun things I want to do? (Example: Fly to Outer Space)
- What are ten things I would like to share? (Example: I want my children to have a love for reading)
If you can get to fifty goals your eyes will be open to what you want to do with your life. You will see that life has so much more potential for you than you ever thought possible.
Don’t put yourself in the box of never being able to live the life you want. Nothing happens right away, and few things are easy, but be intentional about carving our time to work towards these goals and you may just found out what to do with your life.
Question 2: If I Could Only Accomplish One More Thing in My Life What Would it Be?
This question follows in the footsteps of the big dreaming question before it. We don’t know how much time we have left. A bus could hit us while walking to work, or we might get sick with only a few months left to live. We don’t know how many days we have to do what we want to do.
At some point there will not be a tomorrow for us. It’s a harsh reality but one we ought to think about. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would you do today?
Still I know it’s tough to think about since we know that we probably have many years left to accomplish our goals, but the premise is that we shouldn’t take any time for granted. We can’t let the likely amount of time prevent us from liking our time now.
Question 3: Do I Have Any Regrets?
Miranda and I wanted to visit Thailand, so we bought tickets and are currently having a wonderful time in this beautiful country.
This could have looked very different. If we waited, we could have gone at a later date, but it ALWAYS seems easier to do something tomorrow, next week, or next year than to do it right now. It’s so easy to get complacent with today and think tomorrow will fix itself.
Don’t wait on infinite tomorrows!
Regret is a fickle thing. It creeps up on us at a point in which we can’t do anything about it.
Is there anything in your life you fear you missed out on? FOMO is a real thing and can plague our days if we let it.
The question then becomes, how do you avoid future regrets?
Maybe you have no regrets at all at this time in your life. Great! Keep working at living the life you want. If you aren’t moving in the right direction you are often falling backwards. There is only neutral momentum, only falling backwards or forward progress.
To not face regret later on in life, consider tackling a new goal, doing something you’ve never done before, or make a plan to reinvent your lifestyle.
The good thing about past regrets is that they can motivate us to move toward bigger and brighter futures. The bad thing is that we can’t do everything we want to do. There are things in life we won’t see and that we won’t experience.
The key is to be intentional and to be okay if you miss something. I’ve often said one of my huge goals is to write a fiction novel, but I haven’t yet done so. This is okay with me as I’ve come to grips with the fact that the timing needs to be just right for this specific goal.
I’ve placed other priorities and other things I want to do above this goal. This means I might die having never reached this goal and I have to be okay with that. If I’m not okay with missing out, then I need to shift priorities so I can do it right now.
This practical way of looking at regrets has helped to form my goals and my current priorities. If we know our top level priorities and base decisions off of them, life gets a heck of a lot more simple and we can avoid major regret later on in life.
Question 4: What is My Number One Goal in Life (And if you Don’t Know: How Will you Find Out?)
What is the main thing you are working toward right now? Do you have a major life direction and focus? Do you have a mission statement?
The mission statement that my wife and I put together is: “To empower individuals to pursue their God-given potential by reducing passivity.”
We believe in a good mix of planning and action, but we also know the action piece is where people struggle. We build out all of our content with this firm goal in mind.
If you don’t have a leading goal that guides your steps how will you find out? That’s me asking you right there, what steps are you going to take to find out what your number one goal is?
If you don’t know or feel stuck, I suggest brainstorming by starting with what you love, what you are good at, and merging the two of these into a force for good in the world. How are you uniquely positioned to make a lasting difference in the world?
Don’t feel like this question needs to be answered right away but take steps to finding out. As John Maxwell always says:
“The two greatest days of your life are 1) when you were born and 2) when you find out why.”
Keep working towards finding out why, and if you already know, bolster your daily habits and activities to move the needle forward.
Question 5: How I do I Discover my Life’s Direction?
For real though, discovering direction for your life is an ongoing process and a question you will never answer. This means that five years ago your passion and life’s direction were probably not the same as today, and that’s okay.
All things come in seasons and to be cognizant of the change in seasons we need be willing to change direction mid-course.
I am not suggesting that we jump ship every time things get hard, far from it. We often have to stick with things for a while before we see meaningful results. However, many people find themselves ten years into a job they thought they might love but are feeling like they are not fulfilling their potential to make a difference in the world.
Do not feel stuck. You are never stuck.
Your passion 25 years ago may have been woodworking, and that might be what you are known for. “Let John check it out he can fix it!” But one day you might wake up and never want to see a broken wooden chair ever again.
This is normal. We need to be aware of our passions and the difference we are making with them. If we don’t love what we are doing, no matter what it is, we should work to pull away and allow others to fill our place. Or maybe even still be involved but in a new capacity.
If we cannot be joyful givers then we are not impacting others at our highest potential.
All of us face burnout from time to time no matter our position or love for what we do. Many professionals face this even more when working multiple long shifts back to back.
You might be in this situation currently which makes it even more crucial to answer these questions and take action on them one day at a time.
Question 6: How Can I Help Someone Else Right Now?
This question gets to the root of who you are and what you offer. You are an individual with a particular set of skills. Not all of us can be as awesome as Liam Neeson, but we have special traits that no one else has.
You might think this question is impossible to answer, but it’s not true. You know deep down inside what you offer, you just need to discover it.
Life is all about building connections and growing relationships after all right?
What this question also serves to do is to get the focus off of us and our own selfish ambitions, but instead to use our gifts to help other people. We need to do something that provides for our own needs and the needs of our family, but so often we can use this as a barrier to helping anyone else other than ourselves.
If we can shift the focus to helping others instead of lasering in on what makes us happy, we will accomplish two goals at once. We will find contentment and happiness in lifting others up and helping them reach their dreams.
For me, I don’t write this blog and write books to become a millionaire. I hope to help others through my writing, and if this is my focus I can’t go wrong right?
There are things I can do to increase the “business” side of things buy my focus has to be on helping others.
We must strive to do for others and to provide value. This might look like writing a book, opening a garage to help people with car stuff (sign me up!) or even starting a ministry to help victims of sex trafficking.
There are so many worthwhile causes out there, that it might seem overwhelming to pick just one. People need help at every end of the spectrum from writing books to the more extreme example I mentioned above.
It all comes down to what your unique skills are and what breaks your heart the most. For me, I hate seeing people stuck at a job they hate, because I was there once. I experienced the effects of what a ton of stress can do to you and I’m passionate about helping others to find freedom like I did.
For you, it might mean starting a business or non-profit to make a difference in your local community.
If we start with this question, we will be on the right road to figuring out what the heck it is we are doing with our lives.
Question 7: Where do I Find the Time to Pursue My Passion?
This is the ultimate question, and one I have asked myself regularly. We only seem to lose time as we get older as priorities stack up.
If we get married, our responsibilities jump. If we get a high paying and demanding salary job our time might disappear. if we then have kids, then what? Sounds like we are up a creek without a paddle, fellas.
Time and money are the big reality factors we all face. We can’t manufacture time out of nowhere, so we only have a finite number of hours to pick from. We either must reduce current time wasters such as TV, or free up time by finding a more flexible job.
Therefore I recommend finding a job you love AND one that will give back to the community meaningfully. We spend most of our waking lives either at work or sleeping, with a small fraction of that time left over for our families and for fun activities.
Do you want to face the constant pressures of work that doesn’t fulfill you?
I am excited for this generation of millennials who through side hustles and personal development answer that question with a huge resounding NO! No they do not want to find themselves stuck in a job they hate with no reasonable means of escape.
Say what you want about millennials, but we are overcoming a dependence upon corporations, and we are seeing that so called “safe” jobs, are anything but.
We (and I say we because yes I am a millennial too) find ourselves in a world brimming with possibility. Some would argue we have it harder in an economy with no talk of pensions, but I disagree. I think we have a world of opportunity before us, we just have to learn how to seize it.
We have little reason to stick with a company that doesn’t treat us right and isn’t that the way it should be? We have too much potential to risk working for someone and some cause we can’t get behind.
Time is born out a willingness to reduce obligations and set priorities. There is always room for improvement and change, and the biggest factor will be getting the “job thing” right so we can find a level of flexibility that will meet the needs of our family and the needs of others.
Question 8: What is One Small Action Step I Can Take Today?
Action steps are key to life change and the reason why I’m so obsessed with prompting people to take action. It’s the best way to activate an idea, learn more about yourself, and find out what you are made of.
So, what’s one step you can take today? Do you have thirty minutes you can spare to make a small dent towards a big goal?
I know it’s tough and you won’t find motivation from it right away, but consistency is key. Thirty minutes per day adds up to about 15 hours over the course of a month. The more success you have the more time and effort you will put forth.
It’s never easy to begin working towards something, especially if there are more fun things happening right around you, but if you can stave off instant gratification and learn to relish in delayed gratification you will find success.
Take action now and check one small item off your to do list.
Question 9: What is One Thing I Could Do Every Day to Move the Needle Forward Towards My Big Goals?
Question nine expands on the previous question here. This looks to a broader scheme of habit development. Instead of rushing to figure out your best task for the day every day, be intentional about your goals and make a plan for completion.
When I go to write a book, I map out what I need to do by when to meet deadlines. It’s isn’t rocket science to plan in this way, yet it works more often than not. If we schedule a due date for ourselves we will get it done by that due date. If the goal has an ambiguous end date it will take much longer to achieve.
Again, this is because of our innate tendencies to procrastinate and put tasks off until tomorrow or even later. Set a due date and work to get it done by that date. Don’t push yourself too hard and cut yourself slack when you need it but realize that goals won’t complete themselves and big tasks can be made into much more manageable bite-sized tasks if tackled daily.
Question 10: What Will They Say in Your Eulogy?
I admit this question is a tad dark, but picture it for a second. You know who it is will step up and deliver the commentary on your life. Will the compliments be surfacy, the jokes stale, and the crowd playing along but knowing the truth behind the well-meaning but empty praise?
What will you be remembered for? What will your legacy be once you leave this Earth?
Pondering this question helps you to see that life is about much more than what we get out of it. It makes all the difference to know we are making a difference for others.
For me, I want folks to remember me for what I gave, not what I took. I want people to have a good experience when meeting me. I want my words and actions to be inspiring and to make a difference.
I am closer to this goal now that I’m woke to the impact I can have on others. I still act selfishly more than I ought, but the key is that my goals and actions reflect my desire for growth.
Don’t die without giving it your best. Don’t wait another second living and working for anything less than YOUR utmost potential.
Final Thoughts and Encouragement
Ponder once again these ten important life questions:
- What would I do if I could do anything?
- If I could only accomplish one more thing in my life what would it be?
- Do I have any regrets?
- What is my number one goal?
- How do I discover my life’s purpose?
- How can I help someone else right now?
- Where do I find the time to pursue my passion?
- What is one small action step I can take today?
- What is one thing I could do every day to move the needle forward on my bigger goals?
- What will they say in your eulogy?
Don’t think for a second it’s too late to get started in figuring out your life path and direction. I don’t care what age you are.
Answering these questions should help you think about what it is you can do with your life.
I don’t know about you, but I won’t wait until retirement, the kids move away, or the timing is just right, in order to find a life of happiness, flexibility, and the sense that the work I do is making a difference. I will hustle now, continue to search for my passions and how I can use them to help others, and never stop growing, learning, and reflecting.
I hope you will join me in doing the same. Ponder these questions often. Come back to them when you need a refresher, and always remember that each day is a new day with the opportunity to move forward.
Comment below with other questions you might have, and we will learn from each other. I don’t have all the answers, but I sure as heck want to keep learning.
Jordan Ring might seem like an intergalactic task-ninja, but he’s an authorpreneur at heart. As good as he is with words, his primary goal is to help people live a life of less talk and more action. When he isn’t busy writing, blogging, or out walking, Jordan is also the book marketing and launch guru for clients over at his second home, Archangel Ink. And that’s not all; he’s also a freelance copywriter, writing coach, consultant—and anything else he can do to keep the lights on and coffee comin’. His hobbies include playing on Trello boards, watching Marvel movies, drinking iced coffee, and hanging out with his amazing wife, Miranda. You can see what all he’s up to on his site at http://www.jmring.com/.
Image courtesy of Tyson Dudley.