“If you do not change direction, you may land up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

At some stage or another you will be faced with the ultimate question – what direction should you take in life?

As a school leaver you may be ruminating over what to do with your life, as a worker already out in the big wide world you may be considering an alternative career or evaluating the pros and cons of self-employment, but no matter where you are in life, if it is direction you are after, these steps will guide you…

1.        Start Paying Attention to What Makes YOU Happy

You are self-aware enough to know that where you currently are in life isn’t where you WANT to be. Your needs are not being met, but you aren’t sure exactly what must change in order to move you in the right direction to a life you would relish living.

Since we’re all a little lost, think of this as a research project, where you’re the topic:

As you go about your days take note of where you find that spark of happiness, what lights up your heart, what makes you feel alive. Note what you like to do and what sucks the life out of you. Where do you feel as though you’re adding value, what activities add the right balance of challenge and enjoyment?

Review your list and see where there are commonalities – these areas are the activities that should have emphasis and guide your direction moving forward.

2.         Stop over-thinking

Let’s face it – there is thinking… and then there’s OVER-thinking. Analysing paths, reactions and outcomes. Fretting late into the night over the unknown. Accept that you cannot know the exact outcome, no matter how much thought you put into a scenario.

All decisions should have some thought behind them, but there is a point that thinking just paralyses you into inaction. Be honest with yourself whenever you are debating something – at some point you are using your analysis as a deferring mechanism. Think only enough to plan and then just let go – what will be, will be.

3.         Identify Your Strengths

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

We all have strengths, sometimes though, if you are anything like me, you are your biggest critic and can be blinded to your innate talents. My solution? Take a couple of aptitude and strength tests online, like the one on GeniusU called My Genius Test. These tests can give you valuable insight to your path to follow in life.

4.         Trust your intuition

It goes without saying that you need to learn to trust your instincts, your feelings help to guide you through situations in life – if something feels wrong to your gut it usually is wrong for you.

Yes, you may be occasionally led astray by your intuition, but by learning from these experiences you can hone your gut instincts, until in time you can trust them completely.

5.         Surround Yourself with Positive Supporters

We need to be real – finding your direction in life IS a challenge, a rewarding one, but a challenge nonetheless, filled with lots of ups and downs. This can be ameliorated by having the right cheerleaders behind you.

You don’t need people around you dosing you with negativity, questioning your decisions and creating doubt. Like-minded friends and family supporting you can go a long way to giving you the encouragement you need to find your right direction in life.

6.         Replace Inactivity with Action

Thinking about your direction in life and planning for it is all good and well, but at some point to get to the life you love you are going to have to stop thinking and just do it. To enjoy a life of purpose and happiness you need to begin the journey of creating it.

Many of us are frozen with fear when it comes to taking the first step towards something new. That question of “what if” weighs us down – what if things don’t work out? What if I was wrong and I don’t enjoy this? What if I fail?

Honestly… so what?! Then you have experienced something new, you’ve learnt a bunch of lessons, have more wisdom and know-how and you now know with certainty that that path wasn’t for you, and best of all? You took action and tried – far better than not trying at all.

7.         Be Mindful of Your Values

At your heart you hold your fundamental set of beliefs, those core values which are deeply important to how you act and live your life. When we are living in sync with our core values we are far more content and the more in tune we are, ultimately the happier we will be.

If you are unsure of which values you hold most dearly, read up on a list of values and identify the top 5 that you resonate with. If you remain unaware of your values you run the risk of violating them with your every action, causing unnecessary stress and internal tension. It is only once you identify your values that you can begin to live in alignment with them and be guided by them to your true direction, living a life that you love.

By Debbie Taylor