Creating My Life

When You Don’t Know What You Want

Lately,  I’ve been  noticing that the more I have the thought “I don’t know what to do with my life”, the worse I feel, the greater a mystery it seems to be and the less energy I have.

During a phonecall with a friend I remembered that, yesterday, a co-worker had told me that she was reading “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” and she’d been thinking it would be much easier to apply “this stuff” if other people were reading the book with her and they were doing the exercises together.

Anyway, we ended up having a conversation about my running some sort of coaching/mastermind group locally.

And then I immediately forgot the conversation.

It wasn’t until the phonecall this morning that I remembered it. I’d been given an opportunity to create a coaching group in exactly the way I’d said I’d wanted to build a coaching practice, i.e. that my clients would ask me, and I’d managed to walk right by it. So that got me thinking . . .

What if I never know what I want to do in the longer term? That’s pretty much how my life has been so far and I’ve done some interesting and fun things. So maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

What if there is a whole bunch of people, like me, who never know exactly what they want to do and, instead of wasting energy trying to work it out, what we really need to learn, is how to notice the opportunities and how to be ready and take advantage of them when they appear?

Can I be the owner of the PROCESS of my life rather than of the outcomes I want to produce? Can I use what is in my life now to propel me into the future without having to know what future it is I want to create?

There is so much good information out there about creating the life you want to live and even how to find what you really want but it doesn’t seem to work for me. Then there are all those quotes (Can’t think of one off-hand) that seem to say if you don’t know where you’re going you’re doomed to go nowhere. Well, what if there is another way?

So, this is what I am going to do for the next 4 weeks. I am going to experiment with creating my life from where I am and without knowing where I’m going. I’m going to pay more attention to what is present and, when opportunities occur which I’m not sure about I will say “yes” rather than “no”.

Bottom line I’m going to have 4 weeks off from being concerned about not knowing what I want and see what happens.


  • Nicole

    Wow. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! I thought I was feeling like something wrong and I couldn’t really identify what was wrong. You’ve basically put into words everything I’ve been thinking and feeling. It’s so nice to know that there are others who feel that another way is appropriate and that every way is individual. It’s about your own path and the way you tackle the path is not for anyone else to decide but you.

  • Sally

    I have heard it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. One person I knew once told me he had achieved a lot on his life but what had I achieved? My answer was that I was a good mother, a good friend and happy in myself. He on the other hand had cheated his way to the top, made no friends and was living off a 25 year prior success. He was empty of personal pride and sense of completion. My point is that there is no point in striving for one great moment in life if in doing so you miss the pleasure in living for the moment. It is better to do what ever you are doing well than to cheat or take short cuts in the hope of some future achievement. Focus on living well rather than purely on your future ambitions. It is also possible your efforts will be rewarded in ways you could never have imagined.

  • Vanny

    Hi Gillian,
    Hope you are well and you’ve already found what makes your life important and makes really sense to live it.
    I came upon your website surfing in the net being one year and a half in that situation: Dont know what can makes my life positive and exiting and what can makes me really satisfied coming back home from work every evening.
    I have my 10 years dream real: to come and live in the UK,but all of a sudden I was stuck which way is the best way of my life and career.
    I am a medical doctor with a 14 years career. I found that to cure only a patients body is not enough for me as a result and help to this person. May be it sounds strange,but that’s my point of view. Coming in the UK I found really difficult to find a job as medical doctor,because of admin restrictions,but in my heart I was not sure weather I want to go for this path or not.
    As you said there are many things that might excite me as a career path. I want to choose the right path. My inside energy waits me to pull the trigger,but I dont know what best suits me. I want to create and develop .Problem is …the right path.
    Thank you shared your thoughts. I feel much better now knowing I am not alone.
    wish you all the luck in the world !

    • gillian

      Hi Vanny

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 2 years since I wrote that blog post!

      One thing I’ve realised in that time that’s helped me relax around this issue is:

      There is no “right” path. There is only the path. And whether it is right or wrong is just a thought.

      Hmmmm. You’ve got me thinking now. Maybe it’s time to resurrect the blog . . .

      Best Wishes To You

  • Ivan

    Sounds like a great title for an American style facebook group:


  • emmabee

    I’m 20 years old and i’ve been getting a lot of pressure from my parents and other people to decided what i want to do with my life but i don’t know and the more i try to think about it the more lost, helpless, frustrated and confused i feel, thinking about it just isn’t working at all no matter how long and hard i try to think, nothing. I’ve done a few things that id never want to miss out on, went to edinburgh on my birthday to meet John Green (an authour and youtuber), got my books signed and i just left everyone else behind because nobody i knew would share this time with me and it was a great day and adventure for me, i just decided to forget everyone else because they are only holding me back, it’s my life, i met so many amazing people too. My parents keep telling me i cant always do what i want and it’s like they’re saying don’t bother trying ether, that’s just so negative and down putting especially if i get an idea of something id like to try to do, no wonder i have no idea what i want to do. I’m just not going to try and think about it and do what i feel in the present.

    • gillian

      Hello Emma

      Sorry to hear you’re feeling pressured by others but I LOVE how you’ve “had a go” anyway. Keep at that and you will find yourself doing and knowing what you want more and more often.

      I agree. Thinking about it doesn’t work. Too much head stuff just keeps you going round in circles. Deciding what to do from a good feeling place, in the present, is so much more fun.

      Sounds like you’re making great choices for yourself.

      Thanks for taking the trouble to comment.

      Best Wishes

  • Lynda

    Hey you 🙂

    Hello again. Good to read your blog. Lovely courageous writing.

    “Can I use what is in my life now to propel me into the future without having to know what future it is I want to create?”

    I reckon it’s the only way. Anyone who thinks they know what is round the corner or where they’re going next is probably kidding themself (is this a word?). And isn’t living fully in their present moment and doesn’t get that (the spirit of) life is bigger than all of us and full of ‘surprises;’ the ‘signs of life’ which the wise respond to in the moment. Futures are created by what we do in this moment . . and the next . . and the next, not by life plans or vision boards. TS Elliott said life is measured out in coffee spoons. All we need to do next is deal with the next coffee spoon, as you say – act! now! – and life takes care of itself!

    ‘commitment with detachment’ says it all really!

    Much love,


    • gillian

      Hi Lynda

      Good to hear from you. I wrote on a different blog for a while – – but haven’t done so for a while and am now toying with the idea of restarting this one.

      Dealing with just the next step is a challenge. And also a great adventure. Especially for one as caught up in her thoughts as I.

      Backing up and updating this blog seems a pretty dull “coffee spoon”. I yearn for more adventure . . .

      Much love

  • Eliza

    I’m in third year high school, and I still have no idea what do with my life. I’m not kidding. Anyway, I was doing schoolwork and decided to type in “i don’t know what i want to do with my life yet” amd chanced upon this site. I hope your 4 weeks worked out really well. I’m glad you’re taking steps to find your goals (as opposed to reaching them, when you don’t know your goals yet). Good luck with your blog!

    • gillian

      Hi Liz

      Thanks so much for commenting. As I said in another comment I’ve been writing on a different blog for a while now. That’s why I’ve only just seen your comment.

      I can’t even remember what the “4 weeks” you refer to were all about. I’ll have to go back and read my posts 🙂

      There’s so much pressure in school to know what it is you want to do and it can seem hard when you don’t. I always envied those people who knew what they wanted, did the training and then got the job. But that was never really me. For a start there were always so many things that interested me.

      The trick is not to turn “not knowing” into a negative. Especially when there are so many messages around you that say you “should” know. Not knowing what you want can be a great adventure and life becomes a wonderful experiment.

      If I can support you in anyway please feel free to contact me.

      Best Wishes

  • Chieko

    Hi Gillian,

    How was your 4 week period? I just happened upon your site during a search on this topic. Figuring out what I want is very challenging. I’m so glad that there were pages and pages of search results that came up! 🙂 Makes me feel like I’m not the only one asking it.

  • Ian

    A nice change to find someone who focuses on what to do if you *don’t* know your goals, rather than simply working out some objectives: having spent most of my life trying to work this out, finding your site today was a definite move forward.
    Your comment about being the “owner of the PROCESS of my life rather than of the outcomes” was spot on. I guess one needs some sort of goal even if – like the Pole Star – it is a tool to help you keep your bearings, rather than an end in itself.
    Keep up the good work.

    • gillian

      Hi Ian

      Thanks for your comment and encouragement. One trick to making a process goal work well for you is to clarify a way you can measure it. Then you can check how well you’re doing and adjust, if necessary. Also, if you’re anything like me, you’ll need to keep reminding yourself that your process goal is what you’re really about and outcomes (in the material sense) are just a possible end to a means and are expendable. Practising commitment without attachment helps as well.


  • JacqJolie

    Hi Gillian,
    I think there’s a huge group of people out there needing some sort of map to the terrain that you are traveling now – and I’m sometimes one of them!
    I spent years spinning my wheels thinking about a “higher purpose” and watched my life spiral down into indecision and confusion while doing that.
    For some time, I’ve simply followed a process of living in accordance with Aristotelian (Nichomachean) ethics – virtues like courage, magnanimity, wit… This seems to work well for working towards any goal and as a general way of showing up for life.
    Great blog, I really enjoyed reading it.

    • gillian

      Hi Jacqueline

      Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. Glad you enjoyed reading it.

      I have had a gap of a month or so without writing but am delighted to be back writing again today. I like your approach of choosing certain virtues as a general way of showing up in life. Being always seem to be a more powerful approach than doing. (Although I often forget). This time, what rescued me from being under the grey cloud was my reconnection with my inner truth, so truth is now firmly on my personal list of how I want to show up.

      Wishing you a wonderful journey.