"I don't know what to do with my life"

There is something you can do that would make you happy and make you a good living. You may not believe that, and in fact, it’s not true. But it’s not false either. It is only a useful idea to hold as you try to find your mission in life. Holding that idea will help it come true.

The perfect career for you: 1) needs to be something you like to do, and 2) it will have to be something worthwhile — something needed and wanted in the world.

If you don’t like to do your work, you won’t be happy, even when you’re off work. Not only that, but you aren’t likely to work hard enough at it to succeed. And if your work isn’t worthwhile, it’ll feel as though life is empty and has no meaning.

Here is a powerful method of discovering what your mission is: For the next two weeks, every time you notice you’re feeling good about life and about yourself, take a moment to write out the answers to the following questions:

1. Where are you?
2. What are you doing?
3. Who are you with?

Get as many of these written “snapshots” as you can in the next two or three weeks. Then go through them and see if you can find the commonalities. What are some general themes common to most or all of them? Try to find out what actions make you happy. Happiness is an indicator of where your interests and purposes lie buried. It sometimes helps to have a trusted friend look them over too. She might see something you don’t see.

Remember Ernest Shackleton, the expedition leader of the ship Endurance? When he was young, a shipmate of his wrote:

When he was on the subject that... appealed to his imagination, his voice changed to a deep vibrant tone, his features worked, his eyes shone, and his whole body seemed to have received an increase of vitality... Shackleton on these occasions...was not even the same man who perhaps ten minutes earlier was spouting lines from Keats or Browning...

This is an excellent description of what someone can see from the outside. When you’re talking about a subject related to your strongest interest, people can see it — you come alive! Ask your friends to not only look at your notebook, but to tell you when they notice you brighten up significantly. It will give you a good indication of where your strongest interests lie.

Whatever you find as a theme common to the times you are happy and animated, you can assume it is in the direction of your mission in life. It is in a direction that is right for you.

Now put more of it in your life. Gradually add more of it...maybe an hour of it every week for the next month or two. Then make it two hours a week. Keep adding more, pursuing your interest. The whole tone of your life will rise, and you’ll be happier.

Find something you like to do that is needed and wanted. Put more of it in your life. 

This article was excerpted from the book, Self-Help Stuff That Works: How to Become More Effective with Your Actions and Feel Good More Often.

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