7 ways to work out what to do with your life

Posted by on Sep 28, 2012 in Buddhism | 2 Comments
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What should you do with your life? This is a question that doesn’t seem to go away. I’ve got friends in their 60s who still ponder it.

Life, it seems, it not something you ever get sorted. It’s an unfolding, ongoing process, and you have to stay with it, stay present, and continually modify and tweak.

Even really sorted people (or at least, that’s how it looks on the outside), have all kinds of internal conflicts. It’s just what being alive feels like. So if that’s you, don’t sweat it.

But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing about it if you’re not enjoying yourself. The question is, what do you do?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Instead of trying to think up the answer, sit mindfully, ask the question, and notice what arises. It may well be more than one thing. It might just be images or feelings. It might be a voice screaming at you “Run away!”. Whatever it is, just note it, don’t judge it, and let the ideas keep coming.
  2. Look back over the last couple of years. What do you find yourself doing when you have a bit of free time? Is there a theme? If so, what is the essence of why you enjoy that activity, and how can you turn that into a life? For example, I love to write. I used to build websites. But I moved slowly into writing content for websites. That’s not the same as writing ‘Harry Potter’, or ‘On the Road’, but it still allows me to think about and sculpt words all day.
  3. ┬áDo something. Quite often we learn what we want to do next, based on what’s missing from our current experience. Sitting in a chair trying to work it out before you start isn’t the best way to uncover your deepest drives and desires. Get out there and do something! Work it out and modify it as you’re going along.
  4. Go on retreat. This is the opposite of my previous point. Except that going on retreat is doing something I suppose. Basically, if you go away somewhere quiet and do six or eight hours of meditation a day for a week or two (preferably two), when you come back, you’ll have much more of an idea what’s going on for you and what you need to do next.
  5. Read Finding your own North Star by Martha Beck. It’s awesome. And she spent a lot longer writing it than I did writing this blog post.
  6. Write spontaneously for 30 minutes every day. Don’t stop. Keep the pen moving. If you run out of words, write “What I’m really trying to say is…” and then keep going. Over the days and weeks you’ll notice themes emerging.
  7. Stop worrying. You aren’t in control. This life thing is a relationship between you and the universe. You don’t know what the future holds, what opportunities will arise, or what something’s really like until you try it. The most incredible job in the world can be ruined by a terrible boss. The most unglamorous life can be amazing if you love your workmates. So this goes back to my point 3. Just do something.

There are these cards you can get that are a bit like tarot cards. They’re called “Daily guidance from the angels”. I love stuff like that. Am old hippy.

Anyway, there’s one card called “Life purpose”. It says something like “Instead of trying to find your life purpose, simply try to serve a purpose. Then your life purpose will find you.”

I think that’s the angels’ way of saying “Do something.”

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