January 5

I have no idea what to do with my life


“How do I find the right career when I have no idea what to do with my life?” It’s a common question from coaching clients I works with, and in this article I’ll help you find out.

You want out. You’ve tried different jobs. They sounded good at first, decent salary, good training opportunities. Maybe even a prestigious firm or two on your CV. But they aren’t really ‘you’. You can do the job, but it doesn’t excite you. When people ask you about your job, your answer is typically “yeah… it’s okay.”

But you’ve worked really hard to get where you are. You’re probably working long hours, don’t have too much of a social life (especially right now in the middle of a pandemic) and are wondering where this is all going.

You know this isn’t the job or career for you. But if it’s not this, you could well be asking yourself “What should I be doing instead? I have no idea what to do with my life.”

If that sounds like you, then you’re not alone. Most of my career coaching clients are in this position, and are wondering what to do with their career. 

The good news is that with the right approach it’s possible to find new careers that are interesting, challenging, that excite you and make you feel happy at work. I’d like to help you get started on working out what these are in this article. 

Career coaching support

Would you like support in working out what career direction is right for you?

For over 15 years I've helped professionals who feel stuck in their career to find work they love. Find out more about how I can help you.

How not to work out what to do with your life

I remember a time in my teens, and family used to ask me ‘what do you want to do?’ for some reason the answer came out as ‘solicitor’. It was an idea my dad had suggested to me. I decided to take law at A level, I found I actually liked it. ‘A career as a solicitor is for me’, I thought. But when I didn’t get the grades to study law at university, I was left completely unsure what to do next. 

Cue several years of different jobs before I gradually worked out that I enjoyed working with clients and customers, and helping others. Over a few more years I found my path in career consultancy, coaching and people development, which I enjoy immensely. And I realised along the way that being a solicitor wouldn’t have been for me after all, so in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t go to study law.

It took me a long time. I wish I’d had the self-knowledge that I have now, and had someone to coach me through my career exploration. And I say coach, rather than advise, because advice is well meant, but often not terribly helpful.

Why no-one can tell you what to do with your life and career

What career direction should I pick? Many people want the holy grail: a diagnosis, or list of options they should pick from.

We look to others for guidance. This could be family, friends. They often have your best interests at heart, but they aren’t you. The criteria are different, they often don’t know what motivates you, or what makes you happy.

I love the episode of Friends where Chandler – who desperately wants to change career, goes to see a careers adviser. He gets home and reports:

“Eight and a half hours of aptitude tests, intelligence tests, personality tests… and what do I learn?... 

You are ideally suited for a career in data processing for a large multinational corporation.” 

The job he’s come to hate.

It’s funny, but also sad. Despite all this effort, he hasn’t got anywhere.

Chandler no idea what to do with my life

When I first started in careers work, I was impressed with the great tools and questionnaires out there, which recommend careers based on how well they matched your interests, strengths and so on.

Later I realised that no tool (however good) could sum up all of reality. We change over time. The job market changes – even the best tools don’t cover every job out there. So they’re only useful to a point.

We aren’t machines, where you punch in a few answers and get a perfect result. We are individual, irrational, creative, unique.

As a career coach, I never tell my clients what they should be doing. I help them work it out so the answer feels right to them.

The answers come from you. You have to do the work.

It feels hard. You only know what you know. So you have to learn to think less in a straight line, and be more messy, intuitive and creative. That’s where the magic is.

How to find career inspiration and ideas

For many of the clients I coach, when we start working together it’s the first time they have really thought about what they want from their career, and life in general. Like me, they saw different jobs, thought they looked interesting but found it wasn’t really what they wanted. Like me, they were looking outward, when they could have started by looking inward.

I work through a 4 step career programme, which looks like this:


Working out what you really want from your career.


Creating options and exploring what your new future could look like.


Which options are best for you and how you can get there


You take positive and supported steps toward your new career.

It starts with defining:

  • What you’re looking for
  • What’s important to you when you think about a job
  • What’s important in your life? How do you want your work or career to support this? 
  • What do you enjoy? What gets you excited and interested in what you’re doing?
  • What are you good at, or better still – what are you great at?

Because these questions are hard, and the answers seem vague, people often start by looking on jobsites and different jobs, because that’s easier. But there are thousands of jobs and jobsites out there and it’s very easy to get bewildered by the vast array of what you see. How do you know whether that’s what you want to do? It’s like you’re looking at a world of different shaped pegs and through looking at them you’re trying to decide if you’re round, square or whatever. Why not just look at what you are first?  

So the feeling of “no idea what to do with my life” is often because you’re lacking the answers to these questions. And without the answers it’s easy to drift in the wrong direction and not be sure why it nothing you do grabs you.

How to be clearer on what you want from your career

Here are a few useful tools to help you get started in answering the “no idea what to do with my life” question, including a Postcard From The Future.


Download my FREE career satisfaction questionnaire

To help you work out your overall career satisfaction, what you like about the work you do and what's missing for you right now.

Wish you were here postcard

Complete a Postcard From the Future 

The Postcard From the Future exercise will help you create a vision of what you want your future to look like.

Man lifting weights

Work out what your strengths are

Be clear on what you enjoy and what you're good at, by completing the free strengths questionnaire over at Jobmi.com.

Questions to ask yourself when you're thinking “I don’t know what to do with my life”

What did I want to be when I was younger? 

As children we often have ideas of what we want to do when we grow up. As we get older we may think these ideas are silly, lose interest, decide they are impractical, or perhaps we are talked out of them by other people including our parents and families. Consider whether there is something you always wanted to be that you are ignoring. It might not be as impossible as it sounds.

If you had to do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Maybe there’s something you enjoy doing, connect to a hobby or an activity you really get a lot from. What is it?

What do people come to you for help with or advice about?

You may have talents and skills you aren’t even aware of. It’s often the case that we appreciate our capabilities less than other people do, so consider what other people come to you for help with.

Think back to a day when you achieved something amazing, and the time just flew by. What were you doing?

One way to recognise our strengths is in the things we enjoy doing most of all. Often when using his strengths we are in a state of ‘flow’ where we are so focused and in tune with what we’re doing, we forget the time. So think about times when you have been so in the zone you’ve lost track of things. 

Who inspires you, and why?

Role models can bring something out of us, we often want to emulate them to be as great as them. Who inspired you, and for what reason? How could you follow the same path?

If you could fix a problem in the world, what would it be?

A feeling of purpose can give us great strength and direction. Is there something you would want to fix, and how would you do it?

I hope you find the advice above helpful, and it helps you get from “no idea what to do with my life” to having a clearer direction with some ideas to start exploring.

Career coaching support

Would you like support in working out what career direction is right for you?

For over 15 years I've helped professionals who feel stuck in their career to find work they love. Find out more about how I can help you.


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