“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” – Golda Meir
Do you feel stuck? Are you confused about what you’re meant to do with your life?
If so, it’s because you’re digging for an answer that doesn’t exist.
When we’re stuck we ask questions that are too hard to answer.
What am I supposed to do with my life? What’s my life purpose?
According to Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, professors at Stanford University, it’s hard to get unstuck or take action when we ask these prodigious questions.
We believe there is a best or most optimal choice for our life, but there isn’t.
Instead, there are numerous possibilities you can choose from. There are numerous paths you can take and many different versions of who you can become.
This idea is called design thinking and it can help you create the life you want.
When we don’t have to know exactly what to do or have a specific final destination, there is less pressure around making change.
We don’t have to wait for a grand epiphany to start living a fulfilling life.
All we need to do is take the next step based on the information we have.
As we move forward we can pivot and make adjustments based on our experience and what we learn along the way.
So, if you feel stuck and are unsure of what direction to take, use the idea of design thinking in combination with the four guidelines below.
This will help you narrow down some options and feel more confident about choosing what to do next.
1. Let joy lead
Do what excites and thrills you. Instead of basing your decision on logic and what you believe is guaranteed to work, consider what you would really enjoy.
Don’t be reckless and bet all your chips on one hand, but at least realize that there are many joyful path you could take.
To start, make a list of what you enjoy doing.
2. Go with growth
Personal growth is one of my core values. If I’m not growing and being challenged I get bored and unfulfilled. That’s why I choose to think big and put myself in situations where I’m forced to learn and expand my comfort zone.
We’re meant to be challenged by our work, so don’t assume you’re on the wrong path if something is difficult or doesn’t come easily.
Since you get to choose your life path, decide to make it something that will help you evolve and become the best version of yourself.
3. Serve, serve, serve
You have a contribution to make. Helping others and making a difference is an important factor in choosing your life path.
A path of service is a win/win. It will be more meaningful to you and you get to improve other peoples’ lives.
If you want to feel a sense of purpose and significance focus on how you can serve and help others.
4. Build personal assets
What are your strengths? What do you like best about yourself?
Make a list of all of these assets. Your talents and skills are a good signpost for what direction to take.
You don’t have to be the best. Just consider your skills and gifts – the things that come naturally to you that you can continue to improve and develop.
Design and choose a life path
These four concepts are a good starting place to help you brainstorm your possible futures.
The next step is to use design thinking to actually create a clear description of what these possible future look like.
(If you want to learn more about design thinking in action, listen to this episode of the NPR podcast Hidden Brain.)
There are no rules here. Your potential life path doesn’t need to include all of the qualities above, but if you notice there’s overlap it is worth exploring further.
Write a description of at least three possible paths you could take.
Label them Path 1, Path 2, Path 3, or whatever works for you to have a visual of the possible paths you can choose from.
From here, your job is to choose one option and begin moving forward. Take the next step and try out a new lifestyle and learn more about this possibility.
Don’t stay stuck trying to figure out your entire life plan. Start living your life today and create it as you go!
Photo credit: Umbrella Shot