How to Find Some Direction When You’re Feeling Lost

How to Find Some Direction When You’re Feeling Lost

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Miserable. Confused. Lost.

Just a few of the words I’d use to describe how I felt in my career a few years ago.

Waking up on a Monday morning knowing I had 5 whole days ahead of me in a job that drained my energy and sucked the life out of my soul was, quite frankly, horrendous.

I used to drag myself out of bed, fighting against the little voice in my head that was telling me to climb back into the warm safety of the bed covers before calling in sick.

But I just carried on. Getting dressed. Walking out of the door. Turning up to the vast open plan office where rows and rows of desks and telephones sat waiting for their workers to arrive.

I knew I had to get out of that job. I knew that the environment, the procedures, the office politics…it was all weighing me down. But I just didn’t know what to do.

Unsure of what I wanted, what I was good at or what I could do instead, I felt like I was standing at a crossroads with a hundred possible options and no map. I was completely and utterly lost

Fast-forward a few years however, and the scene is a little different.

I found my map. And it allowed me to figure out what I wanted, how I wanted to live my life and which direction I wanted to head in.

These days I now run two businesses, get to work where I want, when I want and am very much living life on my own terms.

With more freedom than I ever thought possible waking up on a Monday morning is now a joy (a sentence I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be able to say).

So, how did I find my direction?

Well it all started with one simple action that you too can do right here, right now.

I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and I wrote down what my dream life looked like.

Sounds easy, right? Well that’s because it is.

But don’t go thinking that because something’s easy it isn’t immensely powerful.

Regularly thinking about what you would do if money were no object can be a hugely helpful activity.

It allows you to put all the practicalities to one side and work out what’s really and truly important to you so you can begin to take action and turn that dream into a reality.

This one simple activity changed the way that I moved forwards with my life. It allowed me to get to the heart and soul of what I really wanted and was the first step to finding my direction and creating positive change.

So now it’s your turn.

If you’re feeling stuck and don’t know which way to turn, this exercise is the perfect starting place for gaining some clarity and figuring out which direction to head in.

Just do the following:

1) Grab a pen and some paper

2) Imagine you’ve won the lottery and money is no object. What does your dream life look like? Write it down in as much detail as possible.

Think about…

  • Where you live
  • How you spend your days
  • How you feel
  • What your perfect day looks like
  • Who you spend time with

TIP: If you’re more of a visual person you could instead try drawing pictures or creating a mood board by tearing inspiring images out of magazines. Just do whatever works for you.

3) Close your eyes and imagine how this life would feel if you were living it. Allow the energy of these positive thoughts to engulf and inspire you.

4) Now look again at your dream life. When it comes down to it, what do you really want in your life? What type of activities do you really want to be doing? And what could you start working towards today? Pick out what’s most important to you and set yourself a goal…something to work towards and action.

Hey presto! You’ve just made the first step to finding some direction!

Working out what you want to do with your life and how you want to earn a living is an ongoing process that develops and changes over time.

However I truly believe that everyone has the power to create change in their lives – it’s just a case of getting started.

Are you feeling lost in your career? I’d love to know what you think of this post. Try out the dream life activity and then come back here to let me know how you feel!

Photo by Joe St. Pierre

Kathryn Hall

Kathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts an avid writer and mentor to individuals across the globe who want to live happy, healthy and empowered lives. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a life they love. Sign up here to connect with Kathryn and receive her free guide ‘More Joy, Your Way'.

53 Comments

  1. Kathryn, thanks for a great post. If we want to live our life by design and not by default we need a plan. Creating a plan for our life will help us reach our dreams, and creating some margin in our busy life will give us the time that we need to take the next step toward our dream. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Yes sometimes it’s just about making the decision to start isn’t it? It’s amazing what change we can create when we really put our minds to it. Thanks for your comments Steve

      Reply
  2. Hi Thanks for sharing. It is a good start to find the right direction for ones life. Life is what we make it, never stop dreaming, life is good, stay happy and continue moving forward.

    Reply
    • Sorry I have to disagree, but money does find happiness. I have been at both ends of the spectrum and having money just confused me more. To insure happiness we have to engage our souls. A lost soul,
      Darlene

      Reply
      • Hi Darlene, I totally agree that money on it’s own does not bring you happiness. My aim with this exercise is to remove the barriers that money can sometimes put in place for people so that we can get to the heart of what we really want – in a soulful way, rather than a materialistic way. It takes time and this exercise on it’s own won’t give the perfect answer, but by using this as a starting point can we often have something to work from. I’m a massive believer in taking action in small steps so that we can get a feel of whether something feels right. For me, it’s been about allowing a business to grow, develop and change direction in a very natural way by trying things out and seeing what I enjoy.

        I hope that helps :-)

        Reply
  3. Wonderfully concise! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. I know exactly how you feel Kathryn – 2 years ago I worked in a job I hated too but now I have transformed my life and do what I love. I found that as well as brainstorming my dream life, I did huge amounts of research online in order to get the info I needed to make my dream career come true. All the info we need is out there – we just need to be willing to make change happen! Thanks for great article, Jess

    Reply
    • I know, it’s amazing what resources are out there when we start looking! Couldn’t have done it without the internet – there’s so much fab help out there. Thanks for your comments!

      Reply
  5. Kathryn,

    Thank you for a great article! I am doing exactly that now!! I couldn’t take the 9 to 5 life and after a battle with a health issue, I am running my own business and looking at starting another. Living life on my own terms. It feel great! :)

    Dan

    Reply
    • That’s wonderful – congratulations! :-)

      Reply
  6. Hello.
    After reading this I still can’t see the right direction.
    The reason is – do I even know what I want? You see, money has never been the problem. I can’t even think of anything when I imagine no limits when it comes to money.
    There are only some distant ‘maybes’ coming up in my mind. FAE, travelling the world, especially around Asia; have adventures like Jackie Chan has (in his films), and other movies; sail; be on the go, move, see land pass by; save the world from corruption; …? Learn languages.
    All abstract.

    Reply
    • Hi Lauris, you certainly aren’t alone in feeling like that so don’t panic if you don’t have clarity just yet. This exercise is designed to be very much a starting point and you are very unlikely to find your perfect answer through it. That takes time, exploration and a bit of experimentation (I’ve written a bit about this on my blog – planning only gets you so far! http://thebusinessofintroverts.co.uk/i-want-to-tell-you-a-secret/) What I would say however is that although you say you don’t know what you want to do, there is very much a running theme in the things you have written ‘travelling’ ‘having adventures’ ‘learning languages’ ‘sailing’. It sounds to me like your dream life involves seeing and exploring the world in some way. So perhaps use that as a starting point – how can you bring more of that into your life? Perhaps you could book a trip somewhere you’ve never been. Or sign up to a class to learn a new language. You aren’t committing yourself to anything long term – you are simply dipping your toe in the water to see how it feels.

      Wishing you lots of luck with whatever pathway you choose! – Kathryn

      PS: There are some amazing people out there who are travelling the world and running online businesses from a back pack who you may want to check out – Free Range Humans, Chris Guillebeau, Suitcase Entrepreneur to name a few…check them out if you want some amazing inspiration.

      Reply
      • Thanks a lot for your answer!
        I suppose it’s easier to look at things from another angle. Words from others help.
        At first, I had left my paper blank, but now there is a page long description about what I want. I would write it down for you (because it is amazing how other people can put my thinking back on the track), but I suppose that would be redundant and pretty much egocentric.
        But in the end, it doesn’t mix together with the way you see the ‘proper life’, I believe.

        Reply
  7. Great post! This really resonated. I had a similar experience when I started freelancing, and I still think it was taking the time to actually write down goals and a business plan that helped steer me to a successful career rather than floundering around going nowhere.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Leslie, glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  8. Wow, I really needed to see this article today!! I woke up this morning and no joke “called out sick” for a few hours just to avoid the madness that awaited me at work. We sometimes forget we have the power to make the changes happen and sometimes they’re not as difficult or huge as they first appeared, thanks for the reminder and for sharing your journey. It got me thinking a lot about mine and some of the steps I need to take that I’ve been avoiding for a while!

    Reply
    • Thanks Kate – it’s so easy to get caught in the trap of feeling we have no control when actually we have far more choice in our life than we often realise. So glad to hear that this post has triggered some action! :-)

      Reply
  9. Hi Kathryn. I;m from India. I was just looking for an advice like this. Thanks. I’m a graduate looking for my first job. I’m a regular visitor to thechangeblog. I wanted to share something with you. I know u’ll find it as al ong story, but if u have time please read it.

    In October, when I was just freshly passed out of my college and got my degree. I didnt know what job should I look for then. I followed my friends. I got coaching from an institute for a national level exam (if you clear it, then you would get a chance to work with india’s best world-renowned govt companies). I wasnt able to qualify the exam and wasted 50k rupees of my parents money. That’s a lot of money that got wasted. Now I’m sitting at home looking for jobs. But, didnt find any luck. Sitting at home peacefully helped me with one thing. I dreamed what should be my future like. A job which provides good money. This is because I want to help those those who cannot/couldnot help themselves. I wanted to work with NGOs during holidays(when i would join work). But, I also want my parents to be happy about this. My parents are dissapointed that I couldnt find any job till now. That’s why I’m trying to get in a job as a probationary officer in a bank, writing all the bank exams. Should I pursue this dream of mine ?

    Reply
    • Hi! Prajith, I can say that you have a very noble dream to help the needy. But the question is how can you give something you do not have? If finding a job is difficult for you, try business. As I see it, all you know to get your dream is by having a job. But in reality, getting your dreams by becoming an employee has a very low probability. You need to be an executive of a particular company before you get it (your dreams). I know what you’re thinking, starting a business needs a big capital. You’re wrong. If you want to how, you can reach me through this email address: roivyct@yahoo.com

      “If you want to predict your future, Create it!”
      Have a nice day!

      Reply
      • Hi Prajith,

        It can be really hard when you’ve just graduated to work out what you want to do and I know also that it can be difficult to work out what you want when you are surrounded by people who are following traditional paths. I can’t tell you what path you should take, only you can answer that. But what I would advise is to think about whose life you are living. I really believe that to be the best person we can be (both to ourselves and to those we love) we must follow our hearts. Being unhappy in a career (however much money you are earning) will likely leave you feeling restless and wanting more. And although I’m sure that your parents want to see you do well, I suspect that what’s most important to them is that you are happy and secure. My suggestion to you is to take some time on your own. Go for a really long walk somewhere quiet away from your parents and friends. Let your mind wander and listen to your intuition – what is your heart telling you? Wishing you lots of luck and best wishes for the future, I have no doubt that if you are determined and give yourself the space you need, things will begin to become clear.

        Reply
        • Thanks Kathryn. I’ll try that, that is, taking time off and asking my intuition of how to proceed further. I dont know why every other friend of mine can/could find/found his/her interest but, why couldnt I ? And, its been about 6 months since I graduated out of college, and I had only 1 interview. So, I think i’ll got to a city called Pune, gonna live with a cousin who works there. If in the near future, I didnt get a full-time job, i’ll always look for part-time/temp jobs during the time, so that in that way too i think i may get my dream-job. But, that will be a wastage of a lot of time, i think. Anyways, i’ll ponder on it and, I assure that i’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
          Thanks a ton for the advise. :)

          Reply
      • Thanks for the insight Vic. I dont want to start a bussiness or any think. Sice, I dont know what type of job should I join, thats why, I said that I want any job which earns big bucks. Im lost, not knowing which career-path to take, just sitting on the cross-roads. Seeing every other college friend of mine getting a job in a bank, or in a company makes me feel humiliated, that after so much wastage of time and money, I’m still there where I was during the start of my college days, that is, my future’s still blurred.

        Reply
    • Hi Prajith,
      The world is your playground at the moment. You are not already stuck somewhere, so plan and choose carefully what you want, not what you think you should do to conform, to make a living and such other reasons. And do not wait for tomorrow to do things, if you want to join a NGO and help people, do it now. Monetary help is not the only kind of help required.

      Good Luck to you!!

      Regards,
      Danita.

      Reply
  10. Kathryn, I love this activity. The first time I did it was a few years ago to help me get clarity and move forward. It did, but then things changed so I did it again. Now every six months or so, I go back and look at it. When I look at it after a few months I can see where I was, where I am and fine tune it if need be. Life if such an ongoing process with situations constantly changing that it is important to keep checking your navigation system. “Today I am not the same person I was yesterday.”

    Reply
    • Thanks Carolynne. Yes, I return to this activity every few months too. By combining it with action and reflection it’s amazing what you can learn about yourself. Thanks for your comments!

      Reply
  11. Wonderful post! I am at the beginning of this journey and have recently starting writing about it on my blog. Love your thought of writing down the dream, something that can be hard if you’ve spent a long time figuring out how to please everyone around you.

    Reply
    • Thank you! So pleased you enjoyed :-)

      Reply
  12. I am 49 and have been asked to quit by my employer. Trying for a job but things are not working out. Under tremendous pressure – social and financial (not too much financial though). Do not have the courage to start something on my own. What happens if I loose my hard earned money in this business?

    Reply
    • Hi, one thing you should know about me is that I’m not a risk-taker at all. Although it may seem to many that I’ve taken huge risks to start this life, I’ve actually been very careful. I don’t believe anyone should just walk away from a full time job in the hope that a little seedling idea will take off. Instead you can begin something and try ideas out while you are still employed which is what I did (many businesses need very little investment to get started these days thanks to the internet). Later down the line I then took my hours down to part time, until finally I felt confident to let go of employed hours completely. I talk much more about how I did this in my free audio series which you can sign up to on my website if you’re interested. http://thebusinessofintroverts.co.uk/free-stuff/

      Reply
  13. This is so WEIRD, Kathryn. My husband and I have a financial radio show that airs once a week and we interviewed an author that said this EXACT same thing. He called it “write a future letter to yourself.” I’m going to try this. Thank you for such great wisdom.

    Reply
    • You’re welcome Marcy, thanks so much for your comments!

      Reply
  14. “1) Grab a pen and some paper
    2) Imagine you’ve won the lottery and money is no object. What does your dream life look like? Write it down in as much detail as possible.”

    It may be easy or it may be difficult but you are correct, Kathryn. This is what we have to do to make our life work the way that we want it to work. You clearly care a lot about your readers. Thank you for writing this post.

    Reply
  15. About 3 years ago I put some magazine pictures together on a big sheet of paper to show what I wanted the future to hold. Some of it represented small things (getting my old bicycle roadworthy and doing more cycling) and some of it was bigger items (less job time more creative time). Gradually, things are moving and I’ve now made the big decision to leave the office and spend more time creatively.

    Reply
    • Thanks Peter, that’s great to hear. Using images can be really powerful!

      Reply
  16. Cheers to life ;)
    I love your spirit the way you fulfilled your dreams.Really this is something what I was looking for from past few days.
    Will surely gonna follow your way of fulfilling my dreams.
    As said by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
    Thank You so much

    Reply
    • Love that quote – thanks Aashima :-)

      Reply
  17. It is so hard some time to end something and start something new, even though we know we are not happy of where we are standing. But how to end this if we do not know hat will happend if we and this so called safety. We so love living in our little bubble.
    Just recently I found my map of focus, well at least I hope so. I have only put my focus on one thing and start working on this thing and my life already started changing.
    Thanks for the inspiring post. :)
    Emma

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Emma, glad to hear that things are beginning to become clearer for you. It’s an ongoing process as we learn more about ourselves – enjoy the ride!

      Reply
  18. Hallo Kathryn,

    I have a short story, at this interesting subject :
    My daughter lives now in USA, she is coming from Est Europe. She lived in another culture, different way of thinking, habits and traditions. She has a normal, beautiful life with her husband and her daughter. She told me yesterday “”the story of the jobs she had””, and all the difficulties she had to beat. And at the end she said to me : “” I can have all the things smb has too, there is nothing that I can not have ; but i fixed my priorities and I chose according to them.

    Reply
  19. This is a great exercise Kathryn and it does work, most of the time money is a barrier to getting started, so taking it out of the equation is a good idea because it takes away the pressure many feel at the core of their problems. Writing down your dream life is a powerful exercise and the first action to obtaining it, and it opens up the mind to see opportunities that we may previously missed.

    Reply
  20. What a wonderfully simple approach.

    The hardest part of making a plan is the very beginning where I am tempted to talk myself out of every idea. “That’ll never happen because….” So taking the limitations out of the way is a great way to begin. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  21. Morning,
    Its funny I was clearing out my emails and unsubscribing to all the rubbish I have joined over the years and then I stumbled across this post :) I always felt like a number (hated it) in past jobs and then one day I did exactly what you said, I made a list of what I wanted my life to be. Its truly amazing how seemingly such a small thing can make such a massive difference in your life!
    2 years in and I have moved country, moved my baking business with me and am currently setting up all sorts of wonderful little bits to the business :)

    I’m still getting used to the fact that I don’t have to be somewhere but rather can work from the comfort of my home (or in bed where I am now :) ) It also took me a bit to correct my answer from ‘no I’m not working’ to ‘yes, I work for myself’
    Its a strange thing finally reaching goals you have had all your life!

    Reply
  22. I think so many of us fear being stuck in our current situation with no way out (or so we think). We must be brave and make a change for the better, even if it’s scary. Thanks for the great post.

    Reply
  23. This post is simply amazing! I’m absolutely stuck in a dead career and I know that I’m standing on a mountain of untapped potential. I’m screaming on the inside for freedom! I am incredibly determined to live my dream life. Thank you for this encouragement.

    Reply
    • So pleased you like Kelli! And it’s amazing where determination can take you :-)

      Reply
  24. It has been long time and I am continuosly trying to get inputs to bring clarity in my thoughts and action. Today I felt I should visit to change blog and read your blog.

    Thanks a ton for sharing this! simple and to the point! As I was reading I took pen and paper and wrote my dream life and action points. They seem to be huge but as thousand mailes of journey begins with one step I know I have to start.

    I have taken action and planning to implement in coming days, weeks and months.

    I will share with you my journey! Thanks very much for making difference in my thoughts…and life.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comments Ankush – I’m so pleased that this post has helped you :-)

      Reply
  25. Hi Kathryn. Hope you are doing well.
    Thanks a lot. This article gave me a lot of perspective. A month ago, I was lost. I just graduated college, and was applying for job after job posting, but couldn’t help get somewhere. I felt depressed, lonely.

    Now, I’ve changed. I’m still looking for a job as a fresher out of college, but, in a positive way. I have started to embrace life and all the people & things that come in contact with me. I have started to exercise daily, well almost. It feels great after I come home and feel enthusiastic after a jog or a run. It feels good, not good, better.

    Whenever anybody used ping me asking “hw r u ?”. i would say “just fine” or “moving endlessly with time”. But, now I would say “I feel better”. Believe me, it feel “better” when I say that too. I’ve started improving my brain through http://www.lumosity.com, and many other things.

    Thanks a lot Kathryn. :)

    Hope you have a great day tomorrow.

    Prajith,
    Nagpur, India.

    Reply
    • Hi Prajith, I’m so pleased to hear that things are improving for you. It can be baby steps sometimes, but baby steps can get you a long way when you take enough of them. Thank you for letting me know how you’re getting on.

      Best wishes

      Kathryn

      Reply
  26. I’ve been struggling with this for several months. I was fed up with a job where I wasn’t using my full potential. There was a reorganization at work & I was moved into a new role where I thought was finally my opportunity to shine. I was promised a raise and fed lies of being a valuable asset. The raise hasn’t come, and in the process I’ve been overworked, felt undervalued and been thrown under the bus for trying to please everyone and do everything, only to fall short of the expectations I set for myself. While I’ve learned alot about myself through this, I feel like I am still stuck with the short end of the stick and exist in a constant state of paranoia of what I will miss tomorrow, who will try to throw me under the bus tomorrow, or whether I’ll be put of a job etc. I have been beyond burnt mentally and emotionally, but continue to trudge on b/c I don’t have the luxury or energy, much less the faith to quit work & start over, nor do I feel comfortable w/ admitting that I have failed. Its a stubborn poison, and I keep injesting it against my own good judgement. I do self talks, have spoken to friends and everyone says I need to get off my ass and change, but I honestly don’t know where to start. Everything feels like a wry and I cant see past the smog. I believe in possibilities, but at the end of the day, it just all feels like its outside my reach. I used to have a curious zest for life and actively seek things to engage in and indulge in and felt more connected to the possibilities, but now, I just don’t know where to look. I just feel like i’m existing out of desperation & everything in my life is at a standstill & every notion of peace and joy is just passing me by. I don’ know what to believe in b/c I’ve never been enough, done enough, or done things well enough to get any sort of recognition or sense of pure pride or comfort in my self. I will try this exercise, but I always get stuck and I keep beating up on myself and its been a hard cycle to break. I just wish there was something I could rely on…

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share This

Share this post with your friends!