How to figure out what you want in life


Learning how to figure out what you want in life is an inward journey that takes courage and honesty.  It is something that many of us will have to do at some point.  On the surface, it seems harmless enough, but if you gave it more time and thought, this simple phrase could morph into a web of perplexing scenarios. It is worth it however because it can help you gain insights into your life that you may not have even dreamed of.

How to figure out what you want in life


The only way to get everything you want in life to be very clever about what you want in life. - George Hammond

If you're like me, knowing what you truly want in life is not as simple as deciding what to eat for breakfast, or picking an outfit for the day, or even choosing between bangs or no bangs.  Although I wish it were.

You don't come out into the world pre-programmed with a specific manual to follow.  If you did, life would be smooth sailing, but also predictable and boring.

These days, many people are blessed to be able to choose who they want to be with, where they want to live, and what they really want in life.  Having choices is a blessing but can also be a curse because it can usher in hesitancy and doubt.

This doesn't mean that figuring out what you want in life has to be complicated or never ending.  To make it easy for you, I compiled a list of 7 ways to help you figure out what you want in life.



The journey toward self-discovery is life's greatest adventure. - Arianna Huffington

To figure out what you want in life, you have to go on a journey of self-discovery.  You need to know who you truly are in order to figure out what you want in life.  It starts with internal inquiry and answering questions about yourself with honesty.

It's sort of like being a detective on a case, except the one you're searching for and inquiring about is yourself.  What kind of questions do you ask yourself?  You can start with some simple, basic ones.  Here are some examples of questions to ask yourself to help you figure out what you want in life.

  • What do I love?
  • What is my favorite dessert?
  • What is my favorite drink?
  • What are my favorite colors?
  • What is my favorite place to contemplate?

Then you can ask yourself some questions that dig a little deeper.  Here are some samples.

  • What brings me great joy?
  • What makes me happiest right now?
  • What is one thing I am grateful for?
  • What dream job would I have even if I wasn't getting paid for it?
  • Who do I admire?

These are just a few questions you can ask to get to know yourself better.  You're only limited to your imagination on this so the sky's the limit.  A journey of self-discovery takes some patience.  This is a time of self-reflection and you'll be rewarded with valuable insights that will help you figure out what you want in life.

If you need more help, download my free guide to help you know yourself better and figure out what you want to do with your life.


One of my core values is to help redefine what it means to be a strong and beautiful woman in the music and fashion worlds and to empower the wonderful things that make us unique. - Janelle Monae

Your core values are the things that are most important to you in life, like your family or career.  Defining your values can help you decide what you truly want because sometimes we adopt someone else's values and use them to as our shape the way we live.

For example, say you're planning on going to law school because your family always spoke about how important law school is.  However, the thought of law school makes your stomach churn and heart race.  You'd rather spend your days studying literature, art, and creative writing.

Law school is your family's core value, not yours.  You have to be honest with yourself when it comes to your core values so you're not living someone else's life.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • If your home were being destroyed in the next 5 minutes, what would you grab?
  • What challenges did I face and learned valuable life lessons from?
  • What do I love to do and would do it for free?
  • What makes me so excited that I forget to eat and go to the bathroom?
  • If the world was going to end tomorrow, what would I do right now?

Remember to take your time with this important exercise because it can help you uncover what you want to do with your life so you can create one that is truly aligned with your core values.  If you want to learn more about values, you can download my guide to help you out with this and more.


What is the purpose of life?  I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. - HH the 14th Dalai Lama

There are many reasons why a purpose in life is important and studies to back this up.  People who have a purpose in life are more likely to live longer, enjoy better health, and experience better quality of life.

Discovering your purpose can also help you figure out what you want in life by defining some key elements.  Here are some questions to ponder to help define your purpose in life.

Answering these questions will help you become more clear about your purpose in life and ultimately what you want to do.  However, don't be discouraged if you're still not 100% sure what your purpose in life is after completing the above exercise.

A purpose in life can serve as a compass for you rather than just a means to achieve another goal.  Sometimes life will throw you some curveballs and you find yourself striking out instead of hitting a homer.

Uncertainty and challenges are pretty much a certainty in life.  Your purpose in life can be your mental and emotional raft when have to sail through the oftentimes rough & choppy waters of life.


If you're doing something outside of dominant culture, there's not an easy place for you.  You will have to do it yourself. - Ava DuVernay

There are things in life that we simply don't like to do or think about.  I personally don't like solving math problems or speaking in front of a crowd.  So that eliminates many things that I choose not to do with my life.

Knowing what you don't want in life can help you figure out what you do want.   You can start by creating a list of the things that you don't like to do to help clear up your mental space.

Here are some examples:

  • I don't like clutter.
  • I don't small talk.
  • I don't like my current job.
  • I don't like writing.
  • I don't enjoy math.
  • I don't like large crowds.
  • I don't like when it's quiet.

You can use the process of elimination to help you figure out what you want to do with your life.  It can also help you make improvements in areas of your life versus getting rid of something altogether.


Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes. - Oscar Wilde

Think about all the things you've accomplished and experienced up to this point in your life.  Now think about and answer the following questions.

  • What accomplishment or experience did I enjoy the most?
  • Which experience or accomplishment did I find challenging?
  • What lessons did I learn from each of those experiences or achievements?

Taking an inventory of your accomplishments and experiences is a useful exercise because you might find some valuable pieces of information that will help you figure out what you want in life.  You might even rediscover something that you've long forgotten about and now you want to rekindle your interest in it.

Here are some examples from my own life.


  • Embarked on a health and wellness journey.
  • Made exercising 30 minutes an almost daily habit that is also enjoyable.
  • Became a certified health and wellness coach during a pandemic with 3 young kids at home.


  • Overcame a fear of public speaking.
  • Joined a mastermind group for entrepreneurs.
  • Took a family trip around the Philippines.

As you can see, some of the information I wrote down are closely related to each other.  Others may not be directly associated but can be indirectly tied to the type of work that I eventually want to do in the future.

You don't have to list major experiences or accomplishments that happened in your life.  Your experiences and accomplishments are unique to you, so they can range from life changing ones to something that was sweet & meaningful.

Keep a close eye on any patterns that are based on what you did in your past that can clue you in on what you would like to do with your life. When you think you have enough data, highlight or circle the things that resonate.

What items in your list spark your interest or light you up inside when you read it?   Use all the information you gathered to help you figure out what you want in life.


If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything. - Malcolm X

Taking a stand on something requires courage and candor because it might not fall in line with popular opinion.  Colin Kaepernik followed his heart and took a knee for people who are oppressed, even though it was controversial and ultimately cost him his football career.

Taking a stand for something will look different for each person.  It is something that is meaningful and deeply personal to you.  For example, you can stand for the environment, or animals, or people who are not paid equal wages.

To help you figure out what you stand for, think about the most important thing to you right now.  Use the following examples to guide you.

  • My family is the most important thing to me right now.
  • Having an education is very important.
  • Preserving the environment is something that I care deeply about.

Then, think about ways that these can impact your life or the life of others.  For instance:

  • My family is important to me so I stand for helping women and families with children.
  • I care about the environment deeply, so I am an advocate for anything that will protect and preserve our natural resources and wildlife.

Knowing what you stand for can help you figure out what you want in life because it can help you stay focused on the things that matter most to you.  This might even help you make decisions about other areas of your life like your career, family, or how you want to spend your free time so you're not wasting your energy on things that you don't really care about.


A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at. - Bruce Lee

What you want to do next is write out your long term and short term goals.  Your long term goal can be your big goal.  Your short term goals are the steps you take toward your big goal.

If you already have an idea of want to do with your life, great.  That will be the big goal that you can work towards.  What you want to do next is break them down into smaller goals.

I recommend using the SMART method for creating goals before I even start anything else.


SMART stands for:

SPECIFIC - You state very clearly what your goal is.

MEASURABLE - This is something you can keep track of so you know if you made progress.

ACHIEVABLE - Be sure the goal is attainable.

REALISTIC - Don't set a goal that you know will be hard to achieve.

TIME-BOUND - Estimate the amount of time you think you might need to complete each goal and set a target date.

Break your large goal down into smaller goals, using the SMART method for each one.  This may take a bit of time, so make sure you have at least an hour to work on setting your long term and short term goals.


If none of the exercises resonate with you or you still are not able to figure out what you want in life, that's perfectly okay. You don't have to decide this very minute what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Sometimes the answers will come to you if you just take the time to sit still and contemplate.  Or it may suddenly come to you while you're doing something else.  Or you just need time for everything to process and weigh all of your options until you're ready to take the next step.

This is very much an art as it is an exercise because there is no single way to figure out what you want in life.  Your life changes every single passing moment.  You might like something one day, hate it the next day, then like it again the next week.

What matters now is that you've got some tools that you can use at your disposal.  If you've been doing the exercises along with reading this post, virtual high fives to you!  You can use them to come up with goals and create a plan to help you figure out what you want to do with your life.


48 goals to help you achieve success.

Your purpose in life.  Why you need to know it.

Know yourself:  simple steps to find the true you.

The importance of values and how to define them.


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