How to Figure Out What to Do With Your Life
Hi there, my name is Colleen Bordeaux, I’m a management consultant, author, writer ++ speaker [+ first-time guest on The CHAARG Podcast]! When Elisabeth asked if I wanted to write a blog post for the CHAARG ladies, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a bit of what I’ve learned since I was where you are in life.
My 22-year-old self was trapped in a foggy cloud of self-doubt + indecision about her future, terrified at the abyss of life after college without the predictable milestones + consistent feedback that she was doing it right. She was insecure, anxious, + unremarkable for years – until she did this one simple method to structure her thinking + everything changed.
That girl would be shocked at what she went on to do thanks to taking the time to do that simple exercise: she become a senior manager at an elite management consulting firm, quadrupled her income without any special degrees or qualifications, developed the confidence to speak to rooms of hundreds of people, + created the kind of self-belief needed to put her ideas on paper + share them with the world in a book.
The story of my 22-year-old self might sound familiar to you, because it does to most students approaching the end of college. Everything about your life is suddenly up to you + defining what your purpose is + how to apply it in the world is not easy.
The tough thing about purpose is that there’s not a black + white answer, a specific career or entrepreneurial venture or particular path that wraps it up for you in a nice little bow. It’s the whole of your existence, of how you become a net positive in the lives of the people whose paths you cross.
The purpose of your life, + my life, + every single person’s life on Earth is to add value to other people, period. Let me say that a different way: the purpose of your life has nothing to do with you, + everything to do with how your life helps to make someone else’s better, simpler, or happier. If you’re focused on fame or money or glory or pleasure, you will die unhappy, guaranteed. According to pretty much every philosopher, religious framework, + capitalism. The facts say so! The smartest scientist of the last century says so! “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” according to Albert Einstein himself.
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If you’re feeling uncertain about your purpose, not sure what path to take or struggling with how to move forward in your career, it might help you to do the same simple method for figuring out your purpose. I cover this topic in a full chapter of my book [+ write more about the method in this post on my blog!].
#1] Get three sheets of plain white, eight + a half by eleven inch computer paper out of your printer.
#2] Label one page “Things that I dislike.”
#3] Set a timer for 60 minutes.
#4] Without judgement, list every possible thing that comes to mind in that hour when you think of your dislikes.
#5] Set that list aside. Take a second clean white page + label it “Things that I love.”
#6] Set a timer for 60 minutes.
#7] Same as with your dislike list, absolve yourself of judgement + list every possible thing that comes to mind in that hour when you think of things that bring you joy.
#8] Set that list aside + take a break from both lists for a day.
#9] After taking some space, get your “dislikes” list + a red pen. Go back through each item on your list + ask yourself: “Is this non-negotiable?” If yes, circle it in red pen. This is something you absolutely CANNOT have in your ideal career/life/relationship.
#10] Next, get your “loves” list + a red pen. Go back through each item on your list + ask yourself the same question: “Is this non-negotiable?” If yes, circle it in red pen. This is something you absolutely MUST have in your ideal career/life/relationship.
#11] After identifying the non-negotiables on each list, take your final sheet of paper + label it: “My Life Filter.” Draw a line down the center of the page. On one side, write “NO” + on the other side write “YES.” Copy each of your non-negotiable items from your “dislike” list into the “NO” column. Each of your non-negotiable items from your “love” list goes into the “YES” column.
You’ve found your life filter — the facts that you’ll use to evaluate any step in your life that you’re not quite sure about! It’s a structured way to understand yourself, your needs + wants, + eliminate some of the noise that tends to distract us into decisions that might not be quite right!
If this post resonated with you, please feel free to connect with me on Instagram or LinkedIn for more ideas + inspiration!
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PS — Please check out Colleen’s “Freezing Woman” campaign, ASAP! You’ll be glad you did ; )