3 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life
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3 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Know What to Do with Your Life

Written by Joanna James-Lynn

Topics: Work

Deciding what to do with your life is difficult for anyone, but for multipotentialites it’s usually even harder. A lot of conventional career advice doesn’t work for us, and trying to follow it can make us miserable.

Over the years, Emilie’s shared plenty of ideas about how multipotentialites might go about finding the right career(s) or business(es) for them. Take a look at these posts on the recipe for career happinessfiguring out your overarching theme, and making money as a multipotentialite if you’re not sure where to start.

In this post, I’d like to offer up three more approaches – a few simple questions that might get you that bit closer to figuring out what to do with your life.

1. How do you want to feel?

This idea comes from Danielle LaPorte and The Desire Map.

According to Danielle, our approach to achievement is upside down. Instead of working out what we want to do and achieve, we should work out how we want to feel and then find the activities and goals that will enable us to feel that way.

Which feelings, emotions, and words come to mind when you ask yourself how you’d most like to feel? If you can’t think of many, browse through the Core Desired Feelings Library and note down any words that feel right for you.

How would you like to feel about your career or daily routine? How would you like to feel while you’re at work?

Then ask yourself how you could go about creating those feelings and which careers, industries, or businesses might make you feel that way.

  • If you most want to feel flow, remind yourself of the activities that have put you into a state of flow before. What do they have in common?
  • If feeling inspired is important to you, maybe you need to work with beauty, new technology, or industry leaders.
  • If you want to feel courageous, perhaps you need to do work that’ll take you outside your comfort zone on a regular basis, whether that means being a war correspondent, a storm chaser, or a high school teacher!

2. How do you want to make other people feel?

If you’re not sure how you’d like to feel, try thinking how you’d like those around you to feel.

If you had a magic wand you could use to make everyone you met feel one thing, what would it be? Healthy? Confident? Safe? Beautiful? Understood? Energized?

Each of these feelings could inspire a whole range of career or businesses. For example, if you’d love for everyone to feel beautiful, you could go into fashion design, body image counselling, or photography. If it’s all about energy for you, you could be a Zumba teacher, a children’s entertainer, or a nutritionist.

You could also try asking yourself who you’d like these people to be. Would you love to be surrounded by fast-moving entrepreneurs, passion-driven campaigners, or ambitious intellectuals? (Or passion-driven entrepreneurs, ambitious campaigners, or fast-moving intellectuals?!)

Likewise, if you could help anyone, who would you help? Sick animals? Stressed parents? Ambitious college grads?

3. What’s something you haven’t had that you would like other people to have?

I believe I got this one from an interview on the Unmistakable Creative podcast.

The guy being interviewed said he’d grown up without a father figure, so that was something he’d always craved. As an adult, he’s found himself taking on that role for other people. He’s giving other people the thing he didn’t have himself.

I’ve found myself doing this too. I seem to be on some kind of mission to make other people feel OK about themselves. I’ve led LGBT campaigns, I’ve run a blog for shy girls, and I’m always on the lookout for anyone who feels uncomfortable in social situations.

I believe this all comes down to my low self-esteem. I want to help other people feel confident because confidence is something I’ve always craved myself.

What’s something you’ve always lacked or wished for? What’s something you always try and help others with? Is there a clue there about your Why?

Look for Clues and Patterns

Instead of obsessing about what you’d like to do, try focusing on your feelings, the people you want to work with, and the things that motivate you. This way, you’ll be more likely to find work that fits with who you are and not just what interests you at any one time.

These questions may not tell you what exactly you should do with the rest of your life, but I hope they make you aware of some patterns or themes in your interests, preferences, and desires.

Collect these clues as you uncover them, and gradually you’ll develop a clearer picture of the careers, businesses, and callings that would suit you.

If you’re trying to work out what to do with your life, you might benefit from the support available in the Puttytribe:

jo_authorbioJoanna James-Lynn is a virtual assistant, podcaster, blogger, and writer. She’s fascinated by personality, identity, and self-awareness – themes she explores in her podcast, Introspectology, and on her blog. Find out more about her projects at JoannaJamesLynn.com or follow her on Twitter @joannajameslynn.


  1. Jens says:

    I knew the first one (and never could answer is satisfactorily). The 2nd and 3rd I have to ponder, but I might actually be able to answer those. :)


    • Jens says:

      I decided to give it a try right now. With a bit of changed wording :)
      And I’ve only chosen feelings that I have some control over to work towards.

      *How would I like to feel more often?*
      attractive, energetic, focused, helpful, inspired, expansive, centered, authentic.

      *How do you want to make other people feel?*
      Understood, heard, seen, connected, playful.

      *What’s something you haven’t had that you would like other people to have?*
      Support and encouragement for their ideas – no matter how crazy or mundane.
      The feeling of mattering, of being accepted.

  2. Wendy says:

    I love this, what a great approach!

  3. Kristi says:

    I love this! As someone who struggled for a long time to figure out what I wanted to do, I totally wish this article was around earlier, particularly when I was battling with myself and all of my various interests. I am glad it’s here now, though, because I am sure I will want to come back to this when I’m ready for the next step! ;)

    Funnily enough, I decided to answer these questions in my head and realized I am fulfilling all of these things through my current full-time job and my side hustle gig! Which really just affirms for me that I am in the right field, and heading in the right direction! :)

  4. Lorraine says:

    I love this and wish that someone had thought of this approach to career planning when I was starting out so many years ago. As it is now, I am changing to a new career – writing – these will certainly be used as checkpoints. Kudos

  5. Sami says:

    Like Lorraine said–I also wish that they’d taken this route way back in high school when trying to help me figure things out! And all through college, too, that would have been great.

    I want to feel free, supported, secure, and understood more than anything…still working on how to get that!

    I want to help others feel creative and inspired–especially people who feel like they can’t be, I think, though I haven’t figured out how. I have chronic health issues, and I think people like me could use the boost of creativity.


  6. Patrick says:

    I love this idea about how you want to feel. It makes me think and reflect right away and I will consider it and take time with. Thanks for the post Joanna.
    Love Patrick

  7. Catherine Chisnall says:

    This is a fantastic article! There are so many articles all over the internet saying ‘find your passion!’ ‘focus on your goal’ but they never struck a chord with me. Focusing on feelings is genius!

  8. Gabriela says:

    Hmmm. Not sure how to translate feeling into marketable job skill. Feelings can be somewhat hard to define and can change in a moment. Seems a bit too fuzzy. Do we want outer events and things to dictate feelings? Especially for people like me who have a bad habit of absorbing feelings from others. That’s a whole other deal but still can make it hard. Do I even trust my feelings always? Anyway, interesting approach.

  9. Love this Jo, and it’s exactly what I need right now as I’m figuring out the next stage in my career. Trying to find work that I enjoy and makes me happy. I hadn’t thought to re-phrase the “what do I want to achieve?” question to “how do I want to feel?” before, and I actually think this will be a great help for me.

    Thanks for the post, will definitely be sharing this one :)

  10. Nina says:

    Nice post, just in time, but I already had to start urgently to take steps into getting clarity, and I’m still working on gaining complete clarification and have my way, like everyone else, on figuring out things, but the most important thing for me was to realize the responsibility I have for it, and really to take matters into my own hands and do whatever it takes to figure it out, no matter how much more discomfort I endure.

    This problem has been making me extremely miserable, but now as I do it step-by-step, I’m finally concluding it. One website that saved me from having a mental breakdown from frustration is http://www.careerexplorer.com

    My main issue is that I’m desperate to make money, but also extremely anxious about it due to my many obstacles. Still, I can’t believe I’m finally getting through it. I was lucky enough to get the premium version of this tool (website) by asking someone to get it for me, but it was definitively worth it.

    P.S. Maybe I should completely revamp my website now. :D

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