How to Discover Your Life Path: The Simple (and Fun) 4-Step Exercise to Discovering What to Do with Your Life

The real shift that needs to happen is from believing that you have some innate calling, something you were “meant” to do, to understanding that you create your own sense of meaning and purpose in life.
But that still doesn’t answer the question- how DO you figure out what you’re going to do with your life?
So you decide, you create, your own life path and as a result your own sense of meaning and purpose. But how do you actually figure out what it’s going to be?
The exercise centered on discovering two major things:
  1. Find out what you love to do. This means finding out what you have a passion for, what you REALLY enjoy doing, versus those things which you just kind of like.
  2. Finding out what you’re good at. Preferably, not just good, but really good at. Those things that come naturally to you. This comes secondary to #1, but is still very important, because we can derive an equivalent sense of meaning, purpose, and joy from anything which allows us to contribute to others with our gifts. In fact, contributing to others or “helping the greater good”, along with loving what we do, is what actually instills in us a sense of meaning and purpose to begin with.

The “Discover Your Life Path” exercise

  1. List your previous (and current) loves and interests. I started by listing every single thing I had ever loved to do in my life starting way back from childhood to the present moment. For me, this included things such as basketball, games, drawing, music, writing/poetry, business/entrepreneurship, martial arts, and philosophy (particularly Eastern).
  2. Questions. From there I asked myself questions such as why I thought I liked those things so much, what I thought of them now, what new things seemed like fun to try and whether I could see myself pursuing any of them.
  3. Get out there and test (have fun!). I then tried out each of those things again, or for the first time if they were new. I did them for a few moments, some a few days, some longer. Whatever span of time I felt was necessary to give that activity an honest shot, I did it.
  4. Record your findings. I then recorded my thoughts and feelings. Make sure you don’t hold back here. Write down everything that comes to mind, good and bad.
I then repeated the steps for those things which I discovered I was good at throughout my life.
You might need to dig a bit for this one, don’t just stay at base skills like “I’m good at basketball”. Go deeper to, “People have told me I’m very kind and compassionate, and I often volunteer when I have time.” Think “wider”, not narrow to base activities like the last exercise.
Number 2 then becomes, “Why am I good at those things?”, as well as, “What are my specific skills/talents which I can find out from this?”
Number 3 stays the same, but you’re essentially asking yourself the question, “Do I truly enjoy doing this?”, and, “Could I see myself doing this for a living, each and every day, for the rest of my life?”
Doing this exercise for our skills and talents is important, because simply by doing what we’re good at, specifically as a medium to help others, we gain a great sense of meaning and purpose.
Number 3 shifts to centering around those questions because you while you might be good at a certain activity, or have a certain quality, you can’t see yourself doing that activity nor do you see yourself using that quality while doing any of the activities you’ve narrowed down thus far.
And lastly, Number 4 is identical to the first version of the exercise.
I did this same thing with people even:
  1. List the people. I went through a list of all the people I had idolized throughout my life and listed the specific qualities that I admired about them.
  2. Record your findings. I then recorded any themes that popped up and how I felt about those qualities (did I have them, did I not, did I want them and did I feel like that was me?)
This third version of the exercise further helped me discover things about myself such as what I valued and what interested me.
By no means is it required, but it can be helpful.

Once you’ve finished:

Once you’ve completed the exercise, take time to study what you’ve discovered.
One thing you can opt to do, especially if the first round revealed some new activities you didn’t expect to enjoy so much, or if you want to try something new you didn’t think of before, is to do the exercise over again, with a second round of activities.
This second time there’s likely only to be a few things you’ll be trying (or trying again), but it can be beneficial depending on what you discovered the first time you did the exercise.
By now you’ve probably noticed that a huge part of this exercise is really just having fun doing a bunch of different activities you might consider devoting your life to. When it gets down to it, this exercise really is a blast to do.

A positive side effect: the personal and spiritual significance of the “How to Discover Your Life Path” exercise

I wanted to make sure to highlight this in its own section, because it was pretty profound for me.
This exercise had a positive side effect on me- it gave me a crystal clear perspective on my life as a whole and what had driven me up to that point. This is was an invaluable insight.
It helped me, more than anything else in the exercise, discover that just maybe what I wanted to do was always sitting right in front of me and I was just never willing to accept it out of fear of being judged by others or out of the fear of the consequences of deciding such a path.
Maybe when you were little you just wanted to sing and dance but your parents scoffed at the idea, veering you towards the traditional (and gravely incorrect) mindset of “be a doctor or a lawyer” that so many of us were subjected to.
Or maybe when you were in high school you wanted to be an artist but completely forgot about the notion and buried it deep within yourself after everyone around you said comments like “you’ll never make any money” “it’s so hard to be a successful artist” “you should pick something else easier”.
Whatever it is, by doing this exercise you’ll begin to see at what points in your life you were being authentic and at what points you were letting fear take the wheel.
As Brene Brown learned from her decade’s worth of research, the willingness to be vulnerable is required to discover and express your authentic self, and this is directly connected with discovering your path in life.
Keep in mind, this exercise will likely take weeks to complete. It took me nearly a month and that was just the first exercise I just listed, not the process of discovering my completely authentic self.
You’re digging deep on this one, rummaging around in the darkest parts of your mind for things you potentially haven’t thought about in years. This is your entire life you’re scanning through, so don’t rush the process.
It will be well worth the time spent.
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