Many of us find ourselves in a situation where we have no idea what to do with our lives.
I’ve been there and it’s not pretty.
We all want a better future. It’s our nature to feel happy when our future looks bright and unhappy when our future looks dark.
We tend to feel happy when things are moving in the right direction and unhappy when things are trending bad.1
So “I don’t know what to do with my life” can be better rephrased as “What can I do now to make my future better?“
Asking this all-important question means we feel in our gut that we need to change our ways, but we don’t know what to change or how the changes we make will pan out. We are terrified to end up worse than we currently are.
In 2011 I went through a similar crisis. I was working at a dead-end job, drinking beer every night, and watching copious amounts of internet porn. I hated my life.
Luckily, I managed to get my life together and turn it around but it wasn’t easy. I changed my mindset, body, habits, job, city, country, and lifestyle. I sold everything I owned and I never looked back. Now, I have a future to look forward to.
Not knowing what to do with your life is an extremely common problem, regardless of your age and standing in life. You can be living a good life but if you feel your life isn’t heading in the right direction, you will feel uneasy. You can be 18 years old or 40+ years old and don’t know your purpose in life. That’s common. There’s no shame in that.
Everyone has a different standing in life, so while I can’t help you with your specific issues, I came up with a list of guidelines that will help you make better decisions about your future.
Here are 10 things to consider when you find yourself with no direction in life:
1. Don’t dig yourself into a deeper hole
First things first. When you feel you have no direction in life, it’s easy to be impulsive and dig yourself a deeper hole that will make it even more difficult to turn your life around.
You should be vigilant about instant gratification. Chasing instant gratification never ends well.
Don’t go into debt unless there is an unlimited upside and a limited downside to your investment.
Keep in mind that consumption will not make you happy. Don’t buy a new car or any other expensive and depreciating asset thinking that it will make you happy. It will not.
Stay away from doing things that will limit your mobility. Don’t tie your future up. You should keep your options open.
Buying a new house on a 15-year mortgage will severely limit your future options as you will be scared to quit your job or move to another place.
Same goes for other kinds of decisions that have the potential to ruin your future. Don’t get married thinking that it will make you happy. Don’t get a student loan for a degree that you aren’t 100% certain will land you a good job upon graduation.
Resist the urge to believe that other people are living awesome lives. People love to put on a show and try hard to appear successful. When you scratch the surface, you will often see that their lives are actually miserable2. It’s never a good idea to keep up with the Joneses.
Lastly, don’t fall into the trap of drugs. Limit your alcohol consumption. Beware of irreparable (or hard to repair) damage.
2. Understand that you are on your own
It’s tempting to believe that there’s a savior out there who will come and save you but that never happens, especially when you are a man. Nobody cares about men. Even your family will resent you at the moment they notice you are getting needy.
Women can sometimes find a sucker to foot the bill but there’s no free lunch for men. As a grown-up man, you should take matters into your own hands. You should always be in the driver’s seat of your life.
The fact that nobody cares about men and nobody can help you but yourself may be scary on the surface but it’s actually a good thing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would be terrified if my destiny was in someone else’s hands. When someone else is in the driving seat of my life, (s)he could steer me down a cliff. I rather am in full control of my life.
Never outsource your well-being. You should always take full responsibility for your life. People outsource their well-being to their bosses, wives, friends, family, politicians, and so on. When you depend on other people, you will pay the price for their mistakes and they will take the credit for your achievements.
You and only you have the power to make your life better. Never depend on anyone else. Get rid of the victim mentality (if you knowingly or unknowingly have one) and adopt a victor mentality. Always be self-reliant.
3. Take good care of your health
Your first job is to take good care of your health, regardless of your standing in life. If your health deteriorates, nothing else will matter. Schopenhauer once said, “a healthy beggar is happier than an ailing king.”
I’ve been doing different types of sports throughout my life and I found that the health benefits of strength training are superior to other types of sports.
When you build muscle, you will not only get physically stronger but also you will get mentally stronger. Getting mentally stronger will enable you to make better decisions.
4. Take good care of your finances
Right after your health comes your finances. A man without money is not only a burden to society, but he is also a burden to his family.
There are various ways to make money but the most common way is by getting a job. Few people build businesses.
There are upsides and downsides to both paths so you should choose wisely.
Getting a job will provide you with the comfort of a paycheck but it has its own downsides which I find unbearable.
Building a business is the way to go but, as you can guess, it’s tough.
If you go into the route of building a business, you have to be ready to do some research and make some sacrifices.
Most businesses are jobs in disguise. Many people fall in love with the lure of “be your own boss” but being your own boss is a lousy way to describe building a business.
As a rule of thumb, if your business doesn’t have the potential to make money while you are sleeping, it’s not a business but it’s a job.
Building a business requires a great deal of mental toughness. If you can’t stomach failure, you should not bother building a business. Successful businessmen all fail consistently until they persist enough to find success. If you are going to build a lucrative business, you should be ready to make it through the inevitable long stretches of boredom, loneliness, uncertainty, self-doubt, anxiety, and hard work that may or may not pay off.
Another buzzword for building a business is to “follow your passion”. It’s a bad idea because passions rarely make good business ideas and, furthermore, you will hate your passion when you make it your business.
Save following your passion for the times when you are rich and retired. Then you can enjoy your passion without worrying about the bills.
5. Ignore the social conditioning
Many men get lost in life because of the social pressures that go against their nature.
In our times, there’s a vicious war on masculinity where men are constantly attacked for even the most mundane of their behaviors.
Modern society is doing all it can to emasculate men.
- Do you want to bang hotter, younger girls when you are over 30? That’s immature. You should man up and marry a washed-up slut.
- Do you want to build muscle? You must be a narcissist.
- Do you want to buy an exotic car? You must have a small dick.
- Do you want to get rich? Money doesn’t make you happy.
- Do you act like a man? Masculinity is toxic.
- Are you explaining yourself? You are mansplaining.
- Blah, blah, blah.
Schools, corporations, religions, and the mainstream media are not your friends. They want to keep you a sheep. You have no use for them when you are not docile. When these institutions fight against each other, they are not fighting for you. They are fighting over who gets to hold your leash. None of them are on your side. Even your family and friends unknowingly parrot their talking points, because they too are brainwashed by these institutions.
You don’t have to comply with their rules. There are no rules. Only laws. Carve your own path. Make your own rules.
You belong to you. You have every right to act upon your nature.
6. Never stop learning
At the times when I was working 9 to 5 jobs that I hated with every fiber of my being, I wasn’t enduring the torture because I was too lazy to build a business. I was enduring because I didn’t know any better.
My parents are both teachers, who never even thought of building a business. Nobody in my extended family ever built a business either. The only thing I knew about business was that it was risky and 90% of the businesses fail in the first 5 years. That was an impossible risk to take so I would have to work a job I hate. I had no other option that I knew of.
What saved me was the internet. The internet can be amazing when you use it for the right purposes. I bought e-books and read blogs and forum posts about alternative ways of making money. I found my ticket out of the 9 to 5 torture by educating myself.
When I graduated from college, I thought I was done with my education so I had stopped learning. It was years later that I discovered my education was far from complete. In fact, I think I would be better off if I didn’t take 95% of the classes I took at school. I had to unlearn many things before I put my newfound education into action.
If you have a problem, you can be sure that there are millions of others with the exact same problem you have. It’s highly probable that someone, somewhere found a solution to your problem and wrote a book, created a course, or made a blog post about how he solved it.
If you try to figure out the solutions for your problems by trial and error, you will be wasting vast amounts of precious time when you could just read a book and fix your problem. A $10 book can save you enormous amounts of time and money to solve your sticking points and move on with your life.
7. Play to your strengths
The most distinctive strengths that men have are competitiveness, curiosity towards the outer world, a desire to figure out how things work, mastering a skill set, and self-improvement.
Men love playing video games because we love to compete, improve, figure out how things work, and win. Men love watching sports because it’s about strength, competition, and winning.
The problem with watching sports or playing video games is that they are not real accomplishments. They provide instant but fake gratification. When you win in a video game, you aren’t winning anything in real life. Real-life competition is tougher because the stakes are higher. When your team wins the Super Bowl, it’s not you who won. It has nothing to do with your efforts. You skipped the due process and just enjoyed the event (winning). The ones who are going through the grueling process of training are the athletes. As a result, they get paid. They even get paid when they lose. Sports fans don’t get paid. They pay.
The desire to win is there in a man’s nature. It’s up to you to use it to your advantage. Never skip the due process. Go for delayed gratification. Nothing feels better than winning after you endure the grueling days, months, years of preparation, work, and pushing through failures. As a bonus, winning increases testosterone and leads to more winning.
Men love to improve. Use that natural strength to master how things work in real life. Always remember that humans tend to overestimate themselves in the short run and underestimate themselves in the long run. That’s why persistence always pays.
You love competing and winning anyway, so, why not use it to your advantage? Make it a point to have the best body among your peers, make more money than friends, bang more girls than your fellow countrymen, etc, and enjoy yourself in the process.
8. Elevate your status
There’s a subconscious mechanism in your brain that constantly tracks your status in your environment. Humans are hardwired to live in hierarchies. The higher you are in the hierarchy, the happier you feel. There’s a reward mechanism in your brain that emits serotonin (widely known as the happiness hormone) as you are placed higher in the hierarchy.
Next time you are in a corporate environment, make it a point to watch the body language of the workers. You’ll notice that high-status workers in the organization have confident, upright postures and low-status workers slouch like they are constantly living in fear of punishment. These people aren’t consciously adjusting their body language. Their brains automatically pick up the status signals and adjust the relevant hormones in their bodies to act according to their status. The brains of the high-status people emit serotonin and the brains of the low-status people emit octopamine. Serotonin makes you happy, cocky, and confident whereas octopamine makes you miserable, timid, and unsure.
You can temporarily increase the serotonin in your brain by taking drugs like antidepressants but that will not have the same effect that genuine high status brings.
If you don’t know what to do with your life, try raising your status. The life of an average man sucks. Men of high status live fabulous lives.
Status markers for men are wealth, health, popularity, good looks, confidence, social skills, strength (mental and physical), courage, decisiveness, posture, leadership, adventurousness, artistic talent, and social skills.
Start with the readily available ones. While you may not be able to get rich quickly, you can start working on your posture today. You can readily start building muscle, get in shape, and make your physique more attractive. Your efforts will start to pay off in a matter of a few weeks. When you start to score small wins, it will motivate you for bigger wins. You can climb up the steps of status one by one. The more you elevate your status the more you’ll love yourself.
9. Travel abroad
For those of you who can afford it, traveling abroad can be a game-changer.
We sometimes feel stuck in life because we are not aware of the possibilities for the other ways we can live our lives. Our local culture has a concrete way of living. It’s impossible to realize that there are other ways of living your life without immersing yourself in different cultures.
Traveling abroad has the power to broaden your horizons and open your eyes to options that you didn’t know to exist. This can lead you to resolve your sticking points in life.
As a bonus, traveling abroad will increase your status as a man, help you acquire valuable life skills, and motivate you to make more money, all of which will help you to have a better future.
10. Take action
Nothing in your life will change without taking action. I’ve given you many potent ideas to build yourself a better future. But ideas are worthless without execution.
Realizing your potential is only possible by taking action. You have no other option.
Be sure to read:
- How to Be a Superior Man, Chapter 2: Take Control of the Direction of Your Life
- “I Hate Myself”: How to Stop Self-Loathing
- How to Get Your Life Together
- 24 Ways to Get Rid of the Victim Mentality and Adopt a Victor Mentality
- Do You Really Take Responsibility For Your Life?
- Adams, S. (2014). How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. Portfolio
- Economic Policy Institute – The State of American Retirement – How 401(k)s have failed most American workers.