Watching others seemingly living out their full potential while you’re asking yourself ‘How do I know what I want to do?’ as you’re about to finish your University degree and/or have finished your degree is deflating and demoralising.
And so, it’s in this post I want to help you to tackle this question because I’ve been in the exact same position you’ve been in, and I know how hard it is. But I’ve managed to find my way out by taking certain actions and it’s those actions I want to share with you because I know if they’ve led me to figuring out what I want to do, they can also lead you to figuring out what you want to do.
Not knowing what you want to do doesn’t need to be demoralising and deflating.
In fact, it can be exciting when you know what action steps you need to take.
And so, what I’m going to show you in this step by step guide on how to figure out the answer to your question ‘How do I know what I want to do’?
Starting with a change in perspective in order to make you feel better about it, before then moving onto what actions you can take.
Why? because without either, you can’t take positive action towards it.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
How do I know what I want to do?
Caveat: Quote by Martin Luther King Jr
This is one of my favourite quotes and why I want to start with it because it’s important you know, you’re not always going to understand why you’re taking a particular action or where a particular action might lead you to in the future.
And it’s only in hindsight (and usually much further down the line) that you will be able to see the connections.
Therefore, I want you to bear this in mind, as I make suggestions around what actions to take to help you to figure out the answer to ‘How do I know what I want to do?’ for yourself.
How do I know what I want to do? A change in perspective
As mentioned earlier, to be able to take steps towards figuring out the answer to the question ‘How do I know what I want to do?’, you first need a change in perspective.
In other words, you need to understand the WHY behind it.
Because without it, you will feel less motivated and determined to take action.
Therefore, stopping you in your tracks before you even get started.
So let’s get started with a question you might be thinking.
Is it okay not to know what you want in life, including your career?
As depressing as not knowing what you want in life (including in your career before and after University) is, not knowing what you want in life, turns out to be a good thing.
Why? because asking yourself this question acts as a basis for helping you to figure it out.
But don’t take my word for it.
Here’s some science to back it up.
1) Creating from the unknown
According to neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza the best place to create anything new in your life from, is from the trepid waters of the unknown.
In other words, from a place of uncertainty, which for all of us to be in (due to our Psychology and how we’re wired) is a scary place to be in, but nonetheless, is a positive place to be in.
And not one at all, which means ‘there’s something wrong with you’ because you don’t know what you want to do (yet).
In fact, it’s a sign there’s something burning within you to do something more significant with your life than you’ve ever considered possible for you.
It’s simply the ‘figuring out’ exactly what that is, bit, you need to work on, and I’ll be coming onto later.
To learn more about the work of Dr Joe Dispenza (and trust me you do want to learn more), check out his books:
- Becoming Supernatural
- You are the placebo: Making your Mind Matter
- Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How To Lose Your Mind And Create A New One
More reasons wondering ‘How do I know what I want to do’ is a good thing
2) It separates you from the rest of the pack
Secondly, it’s positive because the fact you’re here looking for an answer to this question removes you from the category of people who aren’t willing to work towards figuring it out.
And therefore, are simply sticking with what they know and thus, are dissatisfied and unhappy with in their lives.
I mean some people unfortunately never even get the chance to figure out what it is they want to do in life.
And it’s only rare there are people (usually artists, actors, singers, musicians) who know immediately what they want to do and pursue it without a shadow of a doubt.
But here you are in the difficult position of not knowing what you want to do and are actively looking to find a solution to your struggle.
Which in my eyes is commendable and sets you apart from the rest.
And, is exactly the quality you need to thrive in life.
How do you find a job when you don’t know what you want to do?
If you’re looking to get your first step on the career ladder before or after finishing your university degree, however, you might be thinking how does this help you when looking for that initial job?
Which, brings me to the final reason why not knowing what you want to do is a good thing.
3) The openness and willingness to try everything and anything
Why the openness and willingness to try everything and anything is a good thing?
This is a good thing for the most part because you will be less likely to get stuck simply doing one thing for the rest of your life.
And, in fact, was the best and most useful careers advice I ever got not knowing or having any clue what I wanted to do in life (including my career) before and after finishing my University degree.
Why trying anything and everything was the best careers advice I ever got?
This was the best careers advice I ever got, in particular, because in trying everything and anything I was able to learn a lot about me.
Even if some of those moves didn’t necessarily always pan out in my best interests at the time because I wasn’t in the best position (mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually) to be able to fulfil them to the best of my ability.
Which, as a result, meant I’d made tons of what I considered to be, embarrassing and shameful mistakes.
But nonetheless was pushing me in the right direction to pursuing my passion and purpose in life (this blog, personal development, health and wellness), even if I didn’t realise these were my passions at the time and was faced with lots of fear and anxiety about pursuing everything and anything.
LEARN MORE: HOW DO I FIND MY PASSION AND MOTIVATION?
Why I recommend you heed this advice too?
It’s, therefore, for this reason, I recommend you heed this advice too; to learn about yourself.
In particular, because it will support you in also discovering the answers to the following questions…
1) How do I find my strengths?
Finding your strengths is important because it will not only give you an insight into where to put your energy, attention and focus into but it will also, by-product, enable you to find your weaknesses, in order to be able to reduce or eliminate them altogether.
Although, I will say not being particularly good at something isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it simply means whatever you’re trying isn’t for you.
And that’s okay, because there are other things, which you are most likely to be good at.
So, are more worth you putting your time, attention, energy and focus into.
In fact, (in hindsight) I probably spent way too much time noticing my weakness and trying to make them my strengths, instead of recognising my strengths, being happy with them and pursuing them fully.
2) How do I know my likes and dislikes?
Identifying your likes and dislikes is also important because it will further enable you to identify, which direction you want to go more towards and which direction you want to go less towards.
Although, really listening to what your likes and dislikes are (similarly to being able to recognise what your strengths are) is a whole other issue in itself.
3) How do I know what I want and don’t want?
In realising your strengths, likes and dislikes you will also be able to identify what you want and don’t want.
So again you can pursue the things you do want.
Although, being able to listen to what you tuly want again is also a whole other issue in itself.
What it means to be open and willing to try everything and anything?
What it means to be open and willing to try everything and anything, therefore, is that you are open and willing to try activities, which might sound appealing to you even if you aren’t certain they are what you want to do in the short or long run.
In addition, it might be that you are open and willing to trying something, which you think you’re not going to like, or are going to be good at, or isn’t very ‘you’.
And choosing to do this over and over again, regardless of how many times you find you don’t like something.
Because with each new job/career you try, comes a whole host of new learnings and discoveries about yourself, which you didn’t even know existed.
And so may bring you that one step closer to discovering what you do want to do.
How to try everything and anything?
Step 1: Write down what you might like to try
Before you do everything and anything, however, you of course need to have at least one or two ideas around what you might want to try to begin with.
So if you’re really struggling with this take some time to do some research and jot some ideas around what careers or jobs you would like to try.
Perhaps ones related to the degree you studied (or not, since there are tons of people not in jobs/careers related to their degree).
In addition, you could try this one technique from Marie Forleo ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…’
OR this one used in the acting world ‘what if…I could want something, what would that be’ and keep doing that over and over again (Learn more here).
OR read this article here >>> HOW TO TAKE A BIG ENOUGH STEP BACK TO FIND YOUR PASSION CAREER?
Lastly, don’t worry if you come up with jobs/careers that seem way out of your league, just write them down.
Step 2: Consider what action you can take
Once you have this list, think about where you can potentially obtain the knowledge, skills and experience needed to be able to get into those industries, jobs/careers.
Here are some ideas for you:
- Volunteer at a charity using sites like LinkedIn and Do IT
- Work or volunteer abroad (Bonus points for this as it will definitely help you to stand out above the rest)
- Undertake an internship (or two) through organisations, such as, Inspiring Interns (Hint: what I did after working abroad)
- Calling smaller sized companies to see if you can do any work experience with them for a couple of weeks
Lastly, be open to contract, part-time and full-time permanent jobs once you get the skills, knowledge and experience you need.
And don’t be afraid to make tons of mistakes because the end goal is for you to learn about yourself.
NOT care about what other people think about you, which I know is easier said than done.
But as Lisa Nichols says ‘what other people think about me is none of my business’.
The result of trying everything and anything
In trying all of the above activities, you don’t know who you’re going to come across and might be able to assist you with writing a winning CV (again what happened to me).
Therefore, enabling you (as it did me), to land interviews for roles, which you previously may not have been able to consider before due to your lack of knowledge, skills and experience.
As a result, helping you to confirm or deny whether a particular industry, career or role you’re trying is in fact what you do want to do.
This is important because the only way to figure out whether something is for you and so what you want to do or not is by actively participating in it rather than ‘thinking it through’.
However, I would say don’t stop there.
Work with a therapist
Once you land a paid role using the above advice and guidance, I further recommend you read this article >>> HOW TO MAKE THE BEST USE OF A JOB CHANGE (AND WHAT STOPS YOU)?
And implement the advice I suggest around working with a therapist.
- ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THERAPY ANSWERED (AN ULTIMATE GUIDE)
- HOW TO TREAT THERAPY TO BE ABLE TO SEE RESULTS IN YOUR LIFE?
- WORK A LOT? HOW (AND WHY) TO STOP TO BE ABLE TO CREATE THE LIFE YOU WANT
Why bother working with a therapist?
Why waste your time (or money) working with a therapist when you could be spending it on other things you want?
Well, for one thing, you’re unlikely to have lots of responsibilities on your hands (i.e. a mortgage, a family etc.). Therefore, making it the perfect opportunity to invest in yourself and in the long run, learn how you can be happy (or happier) and make more money than you would with a 9-5 job (more on this towards the end of my post).
And secondly, let me ask you, do you want to be or live a life that’s ordinary or extraordinary?
And do you want to be like everyone else, or do you want to maybe consider if there’s another way, a better way to approaching life than what you (and others) have been taught and are acting out?
Because that’s exactly what working with a therapist will give you, another way of thinking about and approaching life.
How working with a therapist will give you another way of thinking about and approaching life
Teaching you more about yourself
As you engage in the work activities I mentioned earlier, yes you’ll learn about yourself and will gain the knowledge, skills and experience to be able to land a paid role.
But why stop there? Keep going. Keep learning about yourself and how you can improve yourself and your life by working with a therapist.
No matter how little you ‘think’ you’re earning (SEE: CONSIDERING THERAPY? WHY YOU NEED TO IGNORE THESE 3 STRONG FEARS) because working with a therapist will help you to stop wasting money on things, which really don’t matter to you and your life in the long run, such as, clothes, alcohol and other things.
And to instead, start spending it on things which really will make a difference to you and your life in the long run.
As you’ll learn how to better identify and manage your emotions so you don’t allow them to make the decisions in your life.
What you will learn about yourself
In particular, what you’ll learn about yourself is…
1. Where your head is at
As you work with a therapist each week (sharing any challenging experiences, thoughts and feelings, which occurred during the week), you’ll work to explore and analyse your mindset towards the people, places and experiences in your life (present and past).
In order to identify whether your mindset could be improved upon to be able to create a life you never imagined possible for you.
No, it’s not easy.
You’re going to come face to face with your demons, however, you will overcome them the more you face them as I talk more about in my post DOES SEEING A THERAPIST MAKE YOU WEAK? 15 REASONS WHY IT DOESN’T.
Not to mention, nothing in life is easy, otherwise everybody would be doing it.
And as Malcom X says:
So become a person who prepares for the future now, rather than later.
2) Teaching you, you (and everybody else in the world) are work in progress’s
What I mean by being a ‘work in progress’ is the process of learning about yourself is never over.
It’s an ongoing process over months, years and decades because we’re always shifting and changing.
Which means, what you liked and wanted a year ago, isn’t likely to be the same as what you like and want today or tomorrow.
So one day you might find you like the job you’re doing and the next you don’t, or you might find you don’t like any of the jobs/careers you try, therefore, hopping from one job/career to the next because you have no clue what else to do.
Therefore, it’s in my opinion, the sooner you can get to work on learning about yourself with a therapist the better.
Because by doing the work now you’ll get to reap the rewards later.
And long gone are the days where working with a therapist was simply seen as a result of ‘there being something wrong with you’.
But rather, a process of learning and growing yourself as an individual as I talk more about in my post A COMPLETE GUIDE ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE LIFE BETTER.
3) How do I find my why?
Probably most important of all, however, is this one; working with a therapist will help to you discover your ‘WHY’ and to really believe in it fully.
As it will give you the confidence needed to be able to really listen to your likes, dislikes, wants and don’t wants, do’s and don’ts.
In addition, your WHY is directly linked to your past because nothing in life is a coincidence, although sometimes it may appear this way.
Everything that has happened in your life and will happen in your life is for a specific purpose.
That is, to teach you something about yourself and what you can do differently in future.
The lesson isn’t always easy to learn but it’s important for you to learn, to be able to move your life forward in the way you want to move it forward.
Why do I need to know my why?
Knowing your why is important because it’s this, which will give you joy, meaning and purpose in your life.
Therefore, is exactly what you need to be happy.
In addition, as a University graduate right now gaining knowledge, skills, experience in a work environment is a priority to you.
However, once you have these, you may feel disillusioned with the idea of climbing the corporate ladder and simply working for money and a wage in return.
Therefore, will be looking for the next best thing, which is the bigger question of what your why is and ultimately what your life’s purpose is, whether you consciously realise it or not.
So trying to work it out with a therapist before you need to (i.e starting before you’re ready) will help you to be one step ahead of the curve.
The result of working with a therapist to find your why
In practical terms, what it means to find your ‘WHY’, is that you’ll start to consider careers, including Entrepreneurship, which aren’t of the traditional kind and to believe they’re possible for you to succeed at, as they are for millions of other people.
As you’ll realise you don’t need to sacrifice your happiness in order to be able to take steps toward success. Instead, you can have it all.
So, you might begin to consider writing a book or becoming a Blogger, a Vlogger, a Podcaster, you name it, the world will pretty much be your oyster.
Caveat to finding your Why
A caveat to be mindful of, however, is once you do find your WHY you will be required to go against the status quo.
So you will likely face hesitation about leaving the ‘traditional job’ to venture out on your own.
However, this isn’t to be treated as a sign to not follow an idea you have, but rather a go ahead sign.
As I talk more about in my post WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO LEAVE YOUR JOB TO START A BUSINESS?
How do I know what I want to do? Further resources to support you
Working with a therapist resources
To support you in embarking on the challenging, but also exciting journey of working with a therapist, check out the following articles:
- THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS IN THERAPY
- 6 SIGNS TO KNOW YOU ARE IN THE GOOD COMPANY OF A GREAT THERAPIST
- 3 QUALITIES YOU NEED TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PSYCHOTHERAPY SESSIONS
- DON’T KNOW WHAT TO TALK ABOUT IN THERAPY? HELP INSIDE
- WHY YOU WANT TO WORK WITH A THERAPIST NOT SEE A THERAPIST?
Starting a Blogging Business Resources
As blogging might also be the career choice you make further down the line, here are some more articles to help you:
- HOW TO START A BLOG WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO BLOG ABOUT?
- 11 AMAZING REASONS TO START A BLOGGING BUSINESS AFTER A YEAR IN THERAPY
- LOVE A BLOG TOOL? HERE’S WHY YOU NEED THE MARKETING CALENDAR BY COSCHEDULE
Summary: How do I know what I want to do?
So there you have it…
Your answer to the question How do I know what I want to do?
As a starting point, put yourself into uncomfortable positions by trying anything and everything in order to learn about yourself (i.e.what your strengths and weaknesses, likes, dislikes, want’s and don’t wants are).
Then once you secure a paid position, keep learning about yourself by working with a therapist because this will enable you to develop and grow as a person and most important of all, will help you to discover your life’s purpose.
So you can live a life you love.
Now over to you…
I would love to know what actions you’re going to take after reading this article so leave a comment in the comment section below.
- ALL YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT THERAPY ANSWERED (AN ULTIMATE GUIDE)
- AN ULTIMATE GUIDE OF PRACTICES TO TRY
- HOW DOES THERAPY HELP YOU TO STOP BEING A PEOPLE-PLEASER AT WORK?
- HOW TO CHANGE MYSELF?
- HOW PSYCHOTHERAPY CAN HELP YOU TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER
- WHY A CHANGE IN PERSPECTIVE IS YOUR KEY TO FREEDOM (AND HOW TO GET IT)
- WHY A THERAPIST MAKES A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO TEACHING?