Figure It Out Friday: I Don’t Know What To Do With My Life

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Figure It Out Friday’ is a new weekly blog series where you submit your questions and struggles about designing your Uncaged life and business – and I give you my straight up advice. Because sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to do.

Question:

I’m turning 23 in one month. I’m smart, make friends easily, and am working my way through college. Problem is, I don’t know what to do with my life! Oh, I know what I ENJOY, but I don’t know how to make money doing it. I want to travel, own my own cottage in the mountains, and write novels. I don’t want to work for anyone (unless some dream job pops up that makes it worth it).  I want stability with the opportunity to shake things up by flying across the world.

But most of all, I want to have a purpose. A goal I’m excited to work for. I’ve forgotten what passion feels like. Help!

Answer:

I’m going to keep this so mega simple that it might frustrate some of you. My advice might piss you off. But I’ll take that chance, because it’s what I really believe. It’s what I take a stand for in my business, and in my life.

I have been exactly where this reader is. I was 24, finished University, and when everyone else was busy applying for jobs, I was buying a plane ticket to Australia to hang out for a year. Everyone asked me “What about work?”

“I’ll work when I’m there” I said. Which I did.

But more importantly – who the fuck cares about work!? I’m 24, I just finished 4 brutal years of University, and I want to have some fun. Work can wait.

And it did. For about 7 years.

Sure, I worked odd jobs in the meantime – waiting tables, teaching English overseas, and other jobs that gave me the flexibility and adventure I wanted in my lifestyle.  But none of them were “career jobs”, at least not for me. (I thought they might be. Like that time I became a travel agent. Turns out selling trips to other people is not NEARLY as exciting as taking them myself)

And if I learned anything during that time, it’s that you can’t try so hard to figure it out. The number of people that come to me saying they have been to career counsellors and still haven’t figured it out, is striking.

People come to me all the time saying they want to travel and explore the world, and if only they could figure out a job that would let them do that. And what that says to me is “You’re not ready to figure it out.”

You have to be ready to want to work. You have to be ready to commit to something (even if that commitment changes).

Until then – be free. Play. Travel. Make just enough money to buy your plane ticket, and work small jobs abroad.

 

Those life experiences aren’t taking away from you figuring it out – they are a critical part of it.

 

The more you can stop trying so hard to come up with an answer, the more likely it is that the answer will just come to you. Because let me tell you – the WORST thing in the world is working when all you want to be doing is travelling. It sucks. Bigtime

And if you’re someone who IS ready to commit, ready to figure out how you can create the lifestyle you want while working for yourself, someone who is ready to put the hard work into making that a reality, click here to get my free training on how to figure out WTF business you should start.

And as a final piece of homework for the person asking this question – it sounds like you’re asking for help figuring out your “passions”. And even just with the small amount of info I have in your question, I can see that you already know what they are. You are passionate about travel, about writing (or maybe creative expression in general), about being in nature, about exploration.

So do those things, and see where they lead you! They don’t have to be a job just yet. There is life after college that doesn’t involve heading right into the workforce.

Giving yourself the time to explore those things you love doing – that’s how you will figure out what the hell to do with your life. And it sounds like WAY more fun than taking any of those crazy career tests, right?

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What do you think? What has been your experience in “figuring it out”? Post your comments below!

Read 17 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. This is such clear and sound advice! Having been that person who tried and tried and tried SO HARD to figure out what my thing was, and then having it come to me only when I was really ready to commit to something in a way I had never done before, I can wholeheartedly endorse everything you’re saying, Becca!

  2. Umgawa

    Right  on Becca!
    I notice you work mostly with young women, probably because that is your experience base. Well, I am an old man. I want you to know that many of us have the same problem. Retirement. I did this as early as I could and had no problem. Retirement for me does not mean waiting to die. Unlike so many retirees, I have lots of interests to explore. Retirement for me has not meant a stopping of work, but rather moving from inside–no compulsions. Doing what I want every day. 
    So I finally published a memoir I started 18 years ago. That put a fire in my belly! Along with inflation, I decided its time to get back to work. So I have taken on learning how to do  Internet marketing. This means learning the tech stuff and also business. What a challenge! Now I feel like a teenager!
    Just to let you know, 23,  that in your search for a meaningful life, you are not alone. And that there is no one-time solution.

  3. Becca, it was worth the wait for this one! I’m 28 and just “figuring it out.”  When I sat down to create the “About Me” on my website recently I was actually impressed by myself for the first time ever. This feeling stood in stark contrast to times when I tried to work for other people and put together a resume. I critiqued my experiences as too varied and indicative of my inability to figure it out already.  Seeing the bigger picture when I wrote that “about me” allowed me to have that “ah ha” moment that is your philosophy on this issue. All of the things I have done, my life experiences the past 7 yrs (how  has it been that long?!) after college were  actually very interconnected and make me the “perfect candidate” for my “uncaged life.”  So to those 23 yr olds and everyone else out there-keep the faith! It might not seem like what you’re doing is making sense now but however different your many paths are, everything will give you at least a lesson that will help you in the future.  Good luck!

  4. leapaheadfitnes

    Awesome answer Becca! It’s too bad we feel so pressured to figure it all out … we would all be so much happier if we really experienced our lives and let the universe give us the answers. I can’t wait to share this with my community!

  5. jenner807

    I wish someone had told me this when I was graduating college. I had two miserable jobs before I even had an inkling of an idea of what I wanted….but in the meantime I was holed up and not able to travel because I was chained to my job in the first place…. what great advice!!! I will definitely be sharing this with some of the folks I love :) Thanks again for a great post.

  6. maryjschiller

    I’m 52 and, because of a lot of not-so-hot life circumstances, I’m just now able to determine what I want to do with my life. I don’t have the benefit of decades to figure it out (of course, we never really know how long we have, do we?). You gave good advice, and it’s the same advice I gave to my daughter, who is now 25 and who has lived an amazing life so far. For those of us over 50, I have some advice, which I’m following, myself: Go big. REALLY BIG. You know those wild and crazy dreams? The ones everyone else might think were completely unrealistic? Shoot for them! That’s what I’m doing, and it dang, it feels good.

  7. jenner807 Boooo to that! Glad you are getting out of the cage now :)

  8. leapaheadfitnes Thanks so much for sharing! It’s SO true – it’s the pressure that we need to let go of. It comes at us from all angles sometimes!

  9. FitArmadillo Sooo true! It never makes sense when it’s happening, but when you take a step back you can see how everything is interconnected. And EVERYONE had this, even if you have never had any meaningful jobs or any “resume worthy” work experience.

  10. Umgawa Ahhhh i LOVE that this connected with you, as an “old man” hehe. It’s really interesting to hear how an Uncaged life an evolve over time and even into retirement. Enjoy!

  11. Andrea Shields Nunez Thanks Andrea!

  12. maryjschiller NICE, go for it!! When we’re young, we think everything is a HUGE deal, like all our choices are the end of the world, but really, it’s all an evolution and you can always change your mind. Have fun taking on the world!

  13. SophieCuyler

    I’m 21 and a junior in college. I literally have a life crisis about the future every day. The problem is not that I have too many interests and passions, it’s that I have too few. I’m literally not interested in anything except having fun with friends, finding love, making my blog look cool, and dancing. That’s not a job. Everyone is so professional and i’m just…. yeah. Help.

  14. SophieCuyler you’ll be fine :) at 21 all I wanted to do was skip my university classes to nap, get drunk, and hang out with boys. I wouldn’t expect anyone to know what to do with their lives at 21 xo

  15. WilliePenley

    I’m almost 32. In my 20’s I didn’t go to school and wasted all of my time doing things that I enjoyed and now I’m paying the price. I would like to say going out and living life helped me and that in those ten years I learned a ton about myself and have a clear idea what to do but that’s so far from the truth it’s almost humorous. Now I’m just completely lost with what to do.

  16. ANGIE

    I love this!! I’m 21, a college senior. I came across this post by literally Google-searching, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life, how do I figure it out?” I want to travel, I want to become an author. My dream has always been to travel and write abroad, whether that’s sitting at a little cafe in Italy, or sitting inside a warm, cozy cottage in Ireland. Travel travel travel. I want to sky dive. Base jump in Dubai. Zip line in the Amazon. There are so many things I want to do, I just can’t imagine sitting behind a computer at a desk day dreaming my life away. This helped me so, so much. Thanks Becca!!

  17. Rebecca Tracey

    Oh my gosh Angie I am so glad you found this! TRAVEL! Go! Explore! Adventure! Those are all great things to do with your life, and through those experiences you will learn more about yourself, which will help you eventually figure out the job part. HAVE FUN! Oh to be 21 again!! :)

    PS. I didn’t “figure it out” til I was 30 and even now it’s all a fun experiment :)
    xoxo