“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place… and I don´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But ain’t about how hard you hit… It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done.” — Rocky Balboa
We’ve all been there before. Myself included. Having no clue what to do with your life is painful. It makes you question the very essence of your existence, reflecting on wasted opportunities or bemoaning some of life’s biggest and most brutal failures. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you you don’t know what to do with your life, there’s still hope. Just because you don’t know the next logical step, it doesn’t mean that you can’t move forward.
You see, a long time ago, I found myself in this situation. I had failed miserably. Repeatedly. Over and over again, I experienced the gut-wrenching sensations that come along with failure. I didn’t just fail in business. I failed at everything. Nothing was left untouched or unscathed. Friendships were scorched, relationships were set asunder and the conflagration of failure consumed every aspect of my emotions, finances and mentality.
I can reflect back on those situations now with greater ease. I can think about them and ponder them, looking at them more objectively, almost from a bird’s-eye view. But those moments were painful. Even reliving them in the past, in my mind, hurt enormously. I would replay the events of my life repeatedly, each time feeling them as though they had been happening for the first time. I’m sure you’ve experienced this firsthand.
The fact of the matter is that failure causes pain. Tremendous amounts of pain. Who wants to fail? I certainly don’t want to fail. You definitely don’t want to fail. No one wants to fail. No one. But we all fail. And we all experience the cataclysmic ripple effects of those failures. It equates to treacherous levels of pain. Pain that we would much rather avoid or deflect. So we run from it. We avoid it like the plague.
The problem with that? Most simply don’t realize that we often need to experience massive amounts of pain in order to gain real pleasure. There’s no elevator up to success. As much as we might like there to be. We quite literally have to take the stairs. And, often, those stairs are missing steps along the way, so we fumble, we fall and we fail. But it’s those very failures that provide us with the deep-rooted lessons that we need to eventually succeed.
Even the most famous people in the world have failed. In fact, they’ve failed more times than they would likely care to admit. Don’t you think that they found themselves, after so many failures, questioning what they wanted to do, not knowing what direction they wanted their lives to go in? No matter how committed you are to your goals, failure will do that to you. It makes you question everything. But it also happens to everyone. There’s no shame in failure.
Feeling Lost In Life
I absolutely hate the state of feeling lost in life. It’s as though you’re moving from one point to the next, unsure of what’s around the next bend, too afraid to take the next step. And, when you do take a step, you feel queasy and sick to your stomach as you lurch violently forward.
It sucks. I know.
But that feeling also doesn’t last forever. Pain is the gateway to success. No matter what you categorize as success, pain is the surest pathway there. You’ve heard the saying before about, no pain, no gain. I know you have. And there’s a reason for it. It’s just that some people will do almost anything in their power to avoid that pain. But you can’t avoid it. You have to embrace it.
The Pathway Forward
Okay, so you’re unsure of yourself and where to go from here. Maybe you’ve made some decisions that resulted in massive failures or you simply made some mistakes that you truly regret, what now? When you don’t know what to do with your life, what are you supposed to do? Where are you supposed to go? Is there a pathway forward?
Clearly, life isn’t easy. It will beat you down. So you can’t expect to live on easy street all the time. However, it does get easier going forward. Especially after you’ve experienced monumental pain. If you’re asking yourself, where do you go from here, or how do you figure out what you want to do with your life, here are some questions you need to seriously ask.
#1 — What do I want out of life?
You might not know what to do with your life, but do you know what you want? Human beings are constantly seeking to fulfill a need that’s burning deep down inside. Those needs drive our goals. For example, we don’t want money for the sake of having a bunch of pieces of paper with deceased notables on them; we want money for the need that it’s going to fulfill. For power. For security. For freedom. And so on.
Ask yourself, what you want out of life. If you want to figure out where to go from here, and everything that you’ve tried up until now has resulted in failure, either one of two things happened. Either you didn’t want it badly enough. Or you didn’t associate a powerful enough human need with it. Plain and simple. That’s all it is.
Ask yourself right now what you want. This doesn’t have to do with the attainment of things. No, we’re not talking about that. Forget about the things for a moment. Forget about the things that can buy. I’m talking about those desires that push and pull us in the direction of those things. Freedom. Security. Family. Health. Love. Country. And so on. Decide on those first and foremost.
#2 — What am I no longer willing to accept?
Once you’ve decided on the needs that you’re looking to fill, you have to decide on what you’re no longer willing to accept. You know what it is. It’s in your mind, hidden there behind all the garbage that’s clouding you right now. Whether it’s people telling you that you’re incapable of achieving something, it’s your living situation, the car you’re driving, your weight, your finances, or whatever else it might be, decide on what you’ll no longer accept.
The funny thing is that most of us don’t decide what we’re no longer willing to accept. We’re complacent. Even when things bother and annoy us, we just allow them to run their course. We allow people and situations to consume and control us, like a marionette being controlled and manipulated, moved around by whims or sudden impulses. That’s no life to live.
If you seriously have no clue what to do with your life, you have to be willing to look at what you’ll no longer accept. If you don’t take an honest account of that, then it’ll be impossible to move forward. You’ll still feel stuck and trapped. Write down everything you’re no longer willing to accept, and allow yourself to freely write about it. Don’t hold back. Get angry and upset if you have to. If that’s what it takes, then do it.
#3 — What do my habits look like?
Habits are a very big part of life. The habits that you employ on a daily basis say a lot about you. Do you employ lots of good habits, or do you allow your bad habits to consume you? Anyone that’s at a crossroads in life, unsure of where they need to go, but still wanting to improve their lives, needs to take a serious look at their habits.
Everyone knows that bad habits hold us back from achieving our goals. Sometimes, they’re so powerful that they force us into a state of compliance, unwilling to want to do things like make more money or lose weight because we know that our bad habits preclude us from doing those things.
Just because you’ve had certain habits for a greater part of your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t change. Some people think that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. You actually can. It just takes a lot of time. Habits take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days to form, with an average of 66 days for implementation. But you can’t miss a beat. If you’ve had habits for decades, don’t expect to change overnight or in a week. It won’t happen.
#4 — What makes me happy?
Most people think that when they’re trying to figure out what to do with their lives, that they can’t do something that’ll make me happy. Most people think that happiness doesn’t pay the proverbial bills, when actually, it’s quite the contrary. When you do something you love in life, it’ll never feel like work. You’ll never feel lost or confused. You’ll be so enthralled in doing that one thing that you love so much that it’ll carry you through the difficult times.
Sure, you might have a hard time at the outset. If you want to be a writer or a painter or do something creative that you absolutely love to do, but you have no idea how you’re going to do it and actually make money doing it, don’t hesitate for a moment. You should follow your dreams, no matter how long it takes.
The thing is that none of us want to wake up 10 or 20 years down the line and think to ourselves just how unhappy everything makes us. When we’re not doing what we love, that’s exactly what happens. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Did you know that Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, was 62 years old when he was broke with barely any money to his name and set out to start up his chicken franchise business? He had failed so many times at everything in the past but was unwilling to give up.
#5 — How can I add some value to this world?
The last and final question that you need to ask yourself when you’re confused, lost and you have no idea where your life is heading, is to ask how you can add value to the world. The most successful people in the world have added the most value. If you’re not thinking about adding value, then you’re not looking at the bigger picture.
The truth? Most people look at doing the least amount of work for the greatest return. They get sucked into fad weight-loss diets and get-rich-quick schemes because they’re not thinking about the long term, only about the short term. They want to find a quick fix, a bandage if you will, to their problems. But it doesn’t quite work like that. You can’t be thinking about how you’ll take a shortcut or implement some hack to help you achieve your goals. No. Don’t think like that.
The reason why most people are in the situations that they’re in is because they only look at the short term. They’re driven by impulses. But you can’t do that if you’re serious about succeeding at anything. Everything worthwhile takes time. Doesn’t happen overnight or in a week or in months. We’re talking years and years of hard work. Blood, sweat and tears don’t aptly convey the monumental task ahead.
Without adding value, you’ll simply end up nowhere, fast. You can’t allow that to happen. This is the most important principle in life that should guide your every decision. No matter what it is that you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability. Do the most amount of work for the least initial return. That’s how you’ll get rich or succeed at anything you decide to do. Not the other way around.