Answering an age-old question: What should I do with my life? | Ladders

Make it a proud part of your identity: You’re making a point out of fearlessly trying as many things as possible. Here's how.
Advice

Answering an age-old question: What should I do with my life?

There’s got to be more to life than this, you think.

You grow up and get a job after college, but find yourself constantly searching for your true purpose. As the years go by at top speed, going through the motions while living on autopilot just isn’t enough for you.

But all is not lost: If you haven’t figured out what you really want to do with your life yet, this one’s for you.

Define ‘meaningful’ with your own terms

There’s no right answer, but everyone has their own definition.

Millie Tran, the global growth editor for theThe New York Times, writes that you — and only you — can “define what ‘meaningful’ means to you.”

“One framework I’ve found useful is thinking about it in four categories: legacy, mastery, freedom and alignment. Legacy and mastery are about the body of work and what you want to achieve and the skills you want to cultivate and strengthen. Freedom is about the conditions you need to have the lifestyle you want, like salary, benefits, flexibility. Finally, alignment is about belonging, in terms of the culture and values of whatever organization you may be working with. You can read more about each here,” she writes.

Create your very own “career manifesto”

Sum up what means the most to you.

Kendra Davies, founder of the Orlando-based life coaching firm Stellar Life Coaching, told Monster about what should be in it.

“A career manifesto is a combination of your personal mission, purpose, vocation, and passion. It is an intentional and clear vision about your career goals, what matters most to you, what you want your life to look like, and how you want to feel,” Davies told the site.

Write down what moves you — and what doesn’t

Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and creator of the video course “How to Get Hiredtold Business Insider that you should write down aspects of jobs that you do and don’t like.

The article continues, “Certain careers are better suited to different personality types. For example, do you like talking to people, thinking in the abstract, working independently, and using your brain more than your feelings? Maybe you should consider a career as a reporter. Next, write what is the most important part of a job to you. Do you care most about salary, status, or the job tasks? Also, are you more attached to the job description or the industry? When looking for jobs, refer back to this list to filter through the positions you should and shouldn’t apply for.”

Try everything

Oliver Emberton, founder of the UK-based software company Silktide, writes on Quora about how you should “get reckless” in the spirit of childhood.

“If you really don’t know what you want to do, you’re going to have to try things you haven’t done yet. And you’re going to fail – a lot – trying many different things, most of which won’t work. Kids find this a lot easier because they don’t worry about consequences. I encourage you to do the same. If it helps, make it a proud part of your identity: you’re making a point out of fearlessly trying as many things as possible, you sexy roguish daredevil you,” he writes.

Talk to those who know you best

The people we care about the most tend to have a knack for reminding us of who we are, where we come from, and what’s always been important to us. As you find yourself searching for meaning, don’t forget to have conversations with them about your time together, and get their take on what they always thought you’d do.

Even if they’re wildly off-base with their prediction about you, you’ll gain perspective.