You’ve graduated from high school. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. So… now what?
It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves at one point or another.
When I was at that point, I was honestly feeling completely lost. How did everyone I knew seem like they had figured it all out?
I felt as though I’d missed an important memo – the “what the [email protected] to do with your life workshop”, maybe.
But rest assured, I ended up figuring out exactly what it was I wanted to do and that time in between was simply necessary to land on that path.
To help you out a bit, I decided to write down some options – some ideas you might not have thought of that you could pursue when you don’t know what the [email protected] to do with your life!
1) Consider taking a gap year to figure out who you are
Yes, this is an obvious one, but it’s also one that can actually be extremely helpful.
The idea of taking a gap year has gained a lot of popularity recently, and with good reason.
A gap year can be a great way to take some time off after high school to explore potential careers, discover what you want to do with your life, or simply take the time to travel and have fun!
Many universities even offer credits for volunteer work and other activities during a gap year, so you can use that time to either earn credits or help build your resume before you go back to school to earn a degree.
It’s definitely a year that can really help you sort out all of the ideas and dreams you have while also giving you a lot of time to explore what it is you want to do with your life!
Now: this was essentially what led me down the right path, but there is a small catch.
It’s probably not a huge surprise, but you won’t figure out what it is you want to do with your life by spending your gap year watching tv and playing games.
I know, after school you feel like you deserve to blow off some steam. But really, you don’t have to go all out.
Take a few months off, maybe the summer, and then for the rest of your gap year, really try to focus on your future.
I did this by following 3 very important steps.
Number 1: Change your mindset
Before I even started thinking about what the [email protected] I should do with my life, I knew I needed to change my mindset.
When you are young, the thought of choosing a path or profession for the rest of your life seems incredibly daunting, and with the sheer number of options out there, impossible.
I was overwhelmed because I felt like there was nothing I wanted to do until I was old and retired.
I knew I wanted to do something that would be fun, but I also wanted to make a lot of money.
I wanted to be able to travel the world and have a great time, but I also wanted to help people in need.
It was all too much!
But then one day, I got an idea from my mom.
She told me that instead of trying to figure out everything at once, it would be easier if I focused on just one thing for a while – what I wanted to do next.
You see, the way society works today, nobody is telling you you need to stay in one job for the rest of your life anymore.
Times have changed! It is easier than ever before to find a new job or career, and even to change careers and move up the ladder within your current job.
It’s a lot less scary to think about the future now.
With that in mind, I knew that the future wasn’t very scary anymore – making a decision was not a life sentence, and that realization made me feel so much freer and happier right away!
But I still wasn’t sure what to do.
So here comes step number 2:
Number 2: Figure out who you want to be and what you want to stand for
Now I knew I could choose freely what I wanted to do because in the future, I could always change things up if I needed to.
But that meant it was time to really figure out what I wanted to do NOW!
To be honest, there were a few things floating around in my head, but I knew that now was the time I had to do research on myself.
If you have no idea of what you want to do, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your strengths?
- What are your values/ what is important to you?
- Who do you want to be seen as?
So, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next.
For me personally, my strengths were that I had great people skills, knew how to write well, and was very determined and ambitious.
When I thought about my values, I knew that I wanted to do something that would give me a lot of freedom in my schedule, so I wouldn’t be stuck at a job every day from 9-5 every year for the rest of my life, but that also gave me a good amount of money so I could still travel and have fun when I wanted to.
I also wanted to find something that was fun, because if you aren’t enjoying yourself at work then what is the point?
And finally, I wanted it to help people in some way. Even if it was just one person who benefited from my work every day – that would be enough for me!
When I thought of who I wanted to be seen as, I had this person in mind – they were happy and balanced, had time for their family, prioritized their self-care, were a great friend to other people and helped out wherever they could.
Getting clear on all of these things helped me to get closer to where I am today, so start with these questions!
But I didn’t get there without any help, to be honest.
One of my friends recommended something to me – video of the shaman Ruda Iande.
To be honest, I wasn’t very convinced that it would do anything – I thought shamans were mostly scams, especially in the modern world, but it was a free masterclass, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
The thing is, in his video, this shaman went really deep, explaining my limiting beliefs and what was holding me back from reaching my fullest potential.
You see, deep down I believed that I didn’t deserve to be successful, and I learned that until I managed to free myself of those beliefs, I would keep sabotaging my own work!
But not just that, this masterclass really taught me how to find my most authentic self, which was necessary in discovering my path!
Now, I can’t promise that this will work for you, too, but if you are struggling just a little bit with finding your path – this video might change your life!
Now, there is one more step:
Number 3: Try stuff and don’t be afraid to fail
Okay, this is undoubtedly one of the most important steps I took during my gap year:
I had to try different stuff out and see what worked for me and what didn’t.
The thing is, nobody gets it right the first time – I certainly didn’t!
I tried a lot of different things, and they all failed – sometimes they failed spectacularly.
But that’s okay!
You need to be able to fail in order to succeed!
So try stuff, and don’t be afraid to fail.
This is why the next 9 options I’ve listed here might give you some ideas on where to start.
After going through the 3 steps I just mentioned, you might still not be sure where to begin, but choosing one of the following might just give you the necessary inspiration that will make you path very clear to you!
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that not every path ends in a degree or a full-time job – some paths simply end with a lot of travel.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to travel and having that be your end goal.
In fact, I’d say more power to you! Travel is a huge part of life and can really change the way you think and see the world.
If you don’t have a specific path you want to pursue, travel can be a great way to figure out what it is you actually want to do with your life in general.
It’s one of the best ways to truly learn about yourself and what you want out of life.
Plus, who doesn’t want to experience new cultures, eat delicious food, and see unique and beautiful parts of the world?
If you are unsure how to fund your travels, you can always look into work and travel!
It’s a concept where you are allowed to eat and live somewhere for free while helping out a little bit.
And this could be things like helping out in a Surfer’s rental in Portugal, or guiding horse tours through Canada!
Sounds pretty awesome, right?
I know a lot of people who went down this route and who found out exactly what they wanted to do during their year of work and travel.
There, you get access to thousands of job offers from all over the world!
3) Go back to school
Going back to school, especially if you choose a degree that’s in a field you’re genuinely interested in, can be a great way to figure out what your passions are and what you want to do with your life.
It’s also a great way to build your resume and add some work experience to your profile before you decide to go after a specific job.
Just keep in mind that not all degrees are created equal.
There are certainly some degrees that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on and there are also some more “everyday” degrees that can be incredibly valuable!
The important thing to remember is to choose whatever degree you pursue for the right reasons – not because it’s the only thing you can think of doing.
When you choose a degree, make sure you actually want to study this. I saw many of my friends study just because they thought they had to – only to end up dropping out with a bunch of debt and pursuing something else entirely!
The thing is, nowadays degrees aren’t everything anymore, you aren’t guaranteed a job with one, so don’t study just for the sake of having a degree.
Instead, if you can’t find a degree you’re interested in, maybe look at other options, like certifications or online courses.
That can be a great way to discover your interests!
4) Start your own business
This one is a bit riskier, but also a bit more exciting.
Starting your own business is one of the best ways to truly figure out what you want out of life – and it can be in any field!
You could start a business in the travel industry, you could start a business that helps others, you could start a business that sells products online – there are so many different ways you can go with this.
The important thing to remember is that starting your own business can take a lot of time and effort – so make sure it’s something you’re willing to commit to and truly want to do before you start!
The upside? If you start a business, there is a great chance it will actually take off and you will have started something amazing!
Worst case, you learn what not to do in the future and have a better understanding of the market and what you don’t want to do.
Either way, you win!
5) Au pair
If you’re looking for a way to travel while also helping other people out, an au pair program could be the right fit for you.
An au pair program allows you to travel to a new country and live with a host family in exchange for helping out and taking care of children in the home.
It’s a great way to experience a new culture and meet new people and it’s a great way to help out others too!
At the same time, it’s also a great way to help you figure out what it is you want to do with your life – this experience can really help you discover what you want to do with your life.
I was an AuPair for a year – I went to the States.
My host family was amazing and they are still like a second family to me to this day.
Plus, I learned that even though I wanted to be successful, I really want to have children and a family one day.
That was a realization I didn’t have before!
You might have the exact same experience, or the exact opposite, either way, you will come closer to figuring out what you want to do with your life!
6) Volunteer work
Volunteering can be done in so many different ways and in so many different places.
You can volunteer at an animal shelter in your hometown, you can volunteer at a hospital or hospice, or you can even go abroad and volunteer with a non-profit organization in a different country!
The options are truly endless and they can be a great way to help you figure out what you want to do with your life.
By helping out others and making a difference in the world, you can really figure out what it is you want to do and who you want to be.
It can be an incredibly eye-opening and humbling experience, so it can really be a great way to figure out what you want to do in life!
You see, volunteering is what teaches a lot of people what they want to do with their lives.
I’ve met people who travel the world and volunteer with different organizations, helping out in different countries and seeing what they like.
I’ve also met people who volunteer at their local animal shelter or hospital and realize that they want to work with animals or help people when they grow up.
It’s a way of figuring out your future without having to go through a ton of schooling or debt!
And the best part?
You get to help people or animals and feel amazing while doing so! It’s a win-win!
7).. Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor can be an incredibly helpful and amazing experience and it can also be a great way to figure out what you want to do with your life.
A mentor is someone who has experience and knowledge in a specific field – maybe a mentor has worked in your desired career field or they’ve done something you’re interested in pursuing.
Finding a mentor is a great way to get advice, ask questions, and get guidance on a path you might otherwise not know how to navigate.
It can also be a great way to find out if a path you’ve been thinking about pursuing is even right for you!
Mentors are amazing, but if you don’t know where to start, I can only wholeheartedly recommend that video I mentioned earlier.
Ruda Iande might not be the mentor you want, but he will set you on the right path right away, maybe getting you one step closer to finding a mentor who is exactly in your desired field.
But first, you’ll need to figure out who you are and what is holding you back from success!
And this free video can help with that!
8) Join the military
If you’re looking for a way to give back to your country and really make a difference, joining the military can be a great option to consider.
There are a ton of different branches you can join and each of them has its own specific mission and goal – so finding the one that best fits you and your interests is important to make sure this is the right path for you.
Joining the military can be a great way to figure out what you want to do with your life and it can be the perfect path for someone who is a bit unsure of what they want to do with their life.
It can be a great way to get experience in a variety of fields and learn how to lead and work in a team environment.
Plus, I’ve had friends who joined the military and figured out that this was, in fact, their calling – so who knows? Maybe the military is the perfect fit for you!
If you are lost about what you want to do in life but have a general idea of what you want to do, an internship can be a great way to learn more about that field or narrow down your options.
Internships are a great way to get real-world experience and learn the ropes of what it’s like to actually work in a certain field.
Internships can also be a great way to figure out if you really like the work that you’re doing – and they’re also good for getting references and recommendations from people who are already working in that field.
I’ve personally worked several internships throughout college, each one helping me figure out more about my interests and what I wanted out of life – but I’ve also had friends who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives until they took an internship!
The thing is, some jobs sound amazing until you actually do them.
You see, I’ve always wanted to become a surgeon, a neurosurgeon, to be exact.
In high school, I got the amazing opportunity to do an internship and join a neurosurgeon during his day-to-day tasks (yes, even in the OR).
It was amazing and fascinating, and I obviously loved seeing how these things were done up close, but I also got the opportunity to talk to a bunch of doctors during that time.
Almost all of them told me the same thing: this is not always a great job to have.
Apart from the surgeries during the day, most of the time is spent having to work through hundreds of patients a day, talking to them for two minutes and then sending them away because there is not a lot of time.
The whole system makes it almost impossible to give patients the time and attention they deserve, and over the years, this really takes a toll on your mental health.
Needless to say, that internship really opened my eyes to the fact that I was not 100% sure if this was the job for me – and that’s okay!
Now, I am still interested in surgery and find it fascinating, but I knew that my main thing was helping people face-to-face, and that’s just not the job for me.
10) Become a digital nomad
While this one may not be for everyone, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Becoming a digital nomad is basically what it sounds like – you work remotely while traveling and living as a nomad in many different countries.
This is a great way to travel and earn money at the same time and can be a great way to figure out what you want to do with your life.
It’s important to note, however, that you do need some sort of career or income to fall back on, meaning that you can’t just quit your job and travel the world indefinitely.
In addition to that, you also need to make sure that your lifestyle will allow you to work from wherever you are.
This is usually the case if you are a freelancer or work remotely, but if not, it may be a bit harder.
Essentially, that’s what I do now. And while it has helped me figure out what I want to do with my life, I also don’t really plan on ever stopping, to be honest!
I love this lifestyle, I feel free to pursue whatever I want and I can travel whenever I feel like it!
The reason I mention this here is that sometimes, getting out of your hometown for a bit can really open your eyes to who you truly are and what you want with your life.
There is no wrong choice
Okay, to finish off this article, I want to mention one very important thing here: there is no wrong choice.
No matter what you end up choosing for your life, it will be the right choice for you.
You can’t make the wrong decision, because that is a decision that you made and you are okay with it.
The only thing that matters is that you choose something and then do your best to figure out what that choice means to you and why.
And I hope this article helped you with some of those questions!
Most importantly, I hope it took some of the pressure off and you realize now that you have more than enough time to figure things out.