Determining What You Want Out Of Life
“Man is not born to solve the problem of the universe, but to find out what he has to do, and to restrain himself within the limits of his comprehension.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Knowing what you want to do in life is one of the most sought-after goals in the world. Some people feel at some point in their lives that they need to have a clear idea of what they want to do.
For these people, not knowing what to do in life is a very frustrating feeling. And most people think that if they find out quickly what they want to do, they will be able to dedicate themselves 100% to it.
However, there is one concern. To get an idea of what you want to do, you must first have a reference point, somewhere to start. This reference point is based on your past experiences. So if you don’t have enough experience, then you won’t get the result you want.
Let’s say, for example, you want to buy a smartphone when you’ve never used one. You don’t know what a smartphone looks like or even what functions it has, let alone the differences between existing models.
What To Do?
- Sit at home and think over the smartphone you’d like to buy, waiting for the answer to magically come to you. Or a bright idea may or may not come to you. All of this without having the slightest intention of deciding before the answer comes to you. OR
- To find out what a smartphone is. To browse the net or ask your friends for advice on the differences between the various brands. And if possible, try out smartphones in your neighborhood or in mobile phone shops before you make your decision.
Which option will help you solve your dilemma? Which option will open new horizons, acquire new information to help you make the best choice? Which option is the most reliable to get what you want?
If you are thinking about option #2, then we agree!
Do you see where I’m going with this?
The Blurry Vision In Your Mind
You now understand that to know what you want to do, you need to have some experience in this field. Because if what you want is only a vague concept, and you have never really put it into practice, then you will not have much information or references to rely on in your mind.
That’s why there’s this blurry vision: because you’ve never dared to take the plunge.
It’s a bit like asking yourself what is your favorite sport is when you’ve never played any sport in your life. Or what is your favorite book when you read less than one book a year. Or what’s your favorite restaurant if you’ve never eaten out.
These blurry things will stay as long as you don’t act. You’ll always feel like you’re swimming in uncertainty, confusion, and helplessness. To clear such things, you must go on an adventure. You have to get out of your comfort zone and try different things.
You need to gain experience, learn new skills, and experience new situations. For it is by forging these experiences as much as possible that you will create a reference point that you can trust in your mind.
And the more experience you accumulate, the more you will know exactly what you like and what you don’t like. And finally, you will discover what you want to do and what you don’t want to do!
Gaining Experience: At Length And Depth
So the key to knowing what you want to do is to gain as much experience as you can. Both in the length of the experiences and in the depth of the experiences.
The length of experiences is related to the intensity at which you do something. For example, if you have always viewed cooking in a negative way, have not invested time to learn more AND are only doing the bare minimum to feed yourself, then your experience will be limited.
Conversely, if you aspire to make the best dishes, by going through recipe books, following the best chefs, and trying to vary the pleasures, then your experience will be much wider.
So your experience on the subject increases simply by putting more time, effort and energy into it.
The depth of your experience refers to the variety of things you do. For example, if you’re only good at photography because you’ve studied and worked as a photographer all your life, then it’s time to try something new. Something completely different.
It could be anything, like drawing, finance, food, music, arts, etc. The more you try new things, the wider your range of experiences will be.
Where Do You Start?
Now you must surely be wondering where to start since there are so many different possibilities. My recommendation would be to start by doing the things you are already interested in (what you are interested in trying or improving on what you already know how to do).
Here are steps to get started and find out what you want to do:
- Take a piece of paper and a pen. For the next 30 minutes, write down everything you’ve ever wanted to try so far. Don’t overthink it. Don’t think about whether or not it’s doable. Don’t think about trying to figure out how you will put this in place. The purpose of this step is to know your WHAT before you look for the HOW. Just write.
- After you have done this, go through your list. What things would you like to try today? Circle them. It could be some of the suggestions or almost all of them.
- Now rank them. What would you like to try first? Put a number one in front of this one. Then look at the second thing you’d like to try and put a number two in front of it. And so on, until you’ve numbered all the things that you list.
- Now it’s time to think about HOW. How can you try out the first ideas you’ve circled? Of course, you may be afraid to try new things. Because you unconsciously complicate the process in your mind.
- Know that you don’t have to quit your job, stop your studies, or turn your back on what you are already doing. You can continue to do what you are doing and try something new at the same time. Start with small steps. Take a class. Volunteer with an organization. Talk to someone who has experience in this area. Read about it. Or make a plan to achieve what you’ve circled in your list.
As your experiences growth in length and depth, then you will begin to have a clear idea of what you don’t want to do, and what you do want to do.
The Key Step: Take Action!
At the end of the day, we always need to take action to gain new experiences. So go ahead and try what you want. Look outside. Regroup your discoveries periodically and check if you are moving in the right direction.
Once you’ve had enough experiences, in length and breadth, then the answer will be clear to you.
The most important thing of all is to maximize every experience you have had, invest yourself and remember to live your life to the fullest. After all, if you want to know what to do with your life, it’s mostly because you’re looking to get the most out of life, so it would be ironic if you stopped living by looking for what you want to do.
Knowing what you want to do won’t change anything if you don’t live in the moment. So live and enjoy your life, because everything you experience, the ups and downs, the good or bad situations, is all experience and it is that experience that will allow you to live your life to the fullest.