What the F&%K Should I do With my Life?

41 comments

“I find it fascinating that most people plan their vacations with better care than they plan their lives. Perhaps that is because escape is easier than change.”

-Jim Rohn

If you’re like most 20 somethings   people on the face of the planet, you really have no clue what you want to do with your life.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 45 – I get emails every day from people around the world telling me of their plight.

Sometimes it’s a 20 something figuring out what major to choose in college, or what work they should do for the rest of their daily existence.

Sometimes it’s a 40, 50 or 60 something who tells me “I just woke up one day and realized that this was not the life I wanted for myself. I just woke up one day… and here I am. I have no idea how i got here.”

The fact is that most of us have no idea what to do with our lives because we have not thought about it.

Have you sat down for more than 5 minutes to think about what you want your life to look like? Beyond just bullshit shallow statements like “Six-figures, 3 kids, slim & healthy” — what specifics make up a life you’d want to wake up for?

I have struggled with this for years –

Like most 20 somethings, right out of college I did what I was “supposed” to do — I got a job and joined the 9 to 5 grind.  I worked dutifully for a year, and even though the job was great and I was paid well, I got tired of the same schedule 7 days a week.

I kept asking myself if this lifestyle was what I really wanted for the rest of my life. I mean, I was 22. Sit in small town Connecticut or New York for the rest of my life? Yeah… i’ll pass.

If you don’t know my story – I ended up moving to China for over a year  and came back to a startling revelation:

Why doesn’t anyone freaking think about life?

I came back to friends living the exact same lifestyle since college — three, four years after college they had their 9 to 5 (that almost all of them hated), boring lives (by choice), and a cozy little complacent life that was slowly killing them.

I took one look at how my friends were living and said: “Fuck that. That is definitely not what I want.” 

.. And that’s how Milk the Pigeon was born.

So if you’re here, I’m gonna guess that you’re one of two people.

A. You’re young, you’ve got some options, you have no freaking clue what to do. Major in this or major in that? Work this job, or that job? My job sucks but I don’t know what other kind of work I’d like. Sound familiar?

B. You’re older and life is passing you by. You’re possibly living in a life that you feel “happened to you” rather than “you chose.”

How to figure out what the hell to do:

#1 Read our manifesto: The Lost 20 Something Guide to Figuring Out What the Hell to do With Your Life.

#2 Check out the following posts:

#3 Shoot me an email and tell me what you’re struggling with most, I’ll get back to you in a day or two ! Alexander / at / Milkthepigeon.com

 

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Assam Azzam July 8, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Hi just ran into your site and just wanted to share maybe you can help me out. I’m an airline pilot 25 years old working in Egypt. I grew up in NYC most of my life and just didn’t like it so much. My father pushed me into the aviation world and I sort of all these years went with the flow, never really pushed myself to decide so I guess had my dad choose life for me. The job is great as far as money is concerned the traveling e benefits blah blah blah. Why am I not happy then? All of a sudden I miss NYC so much the lifestyle the great people the atmosphere, just the surroundings. But I know it’s a dilemma if I go back to NYC I will loose it all as a pilot and have to start all over again I just don’t like flying as a passion, I don’t like the feeling of being away from people I know. Sometimes I feel maybe that 9-5 job is all I can do but maybe it’s happiness.

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Alexander Heyne July 9, 2013 at 11:57 am

Hey Assam,

I think you intuitively know the answer.

When people tell me “the job is great as far as money is concerned, traveling, benefits… but I’m not happy” that’s a perfect indicator that it looks great on paper, but intuitively it’s not right for you.

It’s like dating – a girl can look amazing when you write down all her qualities logically. She can be beautiful, tall, a model, great personality, fun, kind… but once you go on a date, you don’t feel anything. You’re shocked. She’s everything on paper, but you don’t feel attraction.

The same is true with jobs I’ve found.

I know going back to NYC (or wherever) will be scary. But you know that you need to change something right? You know what you’re doing doesn’t feel right, right?

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Arvin October 25, 2013 at 6:05 am

Hey there mister Heyne, just ran into your site too. So here’s the deal with my freaking life: One day I was at my college school here in the Philippines, just minding my own bizz and not talking to anyone because I’m an introvert, the usual, when suddenly it hit me, I said to myself, “Fuck this man. I don’t plan on becoming a teacher so why the fuck am I here?… Oh right, now I remember.I was dragged out here by my “friends” into taking this course because they’re too friggin’ insecure about themselves thinking about what other people think of themselves in this new environment without me who’s a friggin’ introvert to catch all there insecurities with themselves! Fuck this, I’m out of here. This isn’t what I want with my life. Screw them sons of bitches,” then I stormed out in the middle of class. After that, I didn’t plan to just sit down my house doing nothing and let my butt gather mold, I started writing my very own light novel and I planned on having it published in Japan. But, like most plans, I didn’t realize how naive that plan was and it ended up taking a dead end — I write and write but every time I’m getting into an important part in the plot I always end up being stuck, my pen stops writing and my mind goes blank. maybe it’s just common writer’s block but then I admitted to myself, “I’m not cut out for this.” Shit, I don’t wanna be one of this alcohol-stinking, cigarette-puffing guys here who do nothing about there sickening lives, waiting to just get fat from others’ pity and die. So that’s how I got here, relying on the internet to help me with my problem. Seriously, how stupid can I be? Oh and by the way, I’m 17 years old.

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Timothy Yong November 12, 2013 at 11:00 am

Hello,

I’m 20 years old and looking for a purpose in life. Forever searching for something that has meaning and not ever sure whether it is the correct path has left me confused on what to do with my life. Throughout my high school life my parents has pushed me into business and I completely hate it. I have a passion in illustrative arts, but I’m constantly reminded that the prospects will lead me a very difficult life. My other option is Physiotherapy which I think I’ll be able to pull through, but my high school academics are poor. Some advice will be greatly appreciated, Thanks.

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Alexander Heyne December 5, 2013 at 11:51 am

Hi Timothy,

My suggestion is to go for the one you like – if your academics are poor, take classes to improve that. If your dream is that important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

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robert Harrington-johnson March 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

Hi Alex

ill get straight to the point, im a white male in South Africa about to turn 20, I studied sports science last year but did not carry on with the course as I could not see myself as a coach for the rest of my life, I swim very competitively, my passion is animals and outdoors and I would love to wake up on a game farm every morning and have every day different but at the same stage I want to be making enough money to be happy and take my future family on great holidays and not have to worry too much about daily costs and making it “through the month” so I kind of feel as if I should fall into the norm and try study medicine or law or something more commercial and high end paying, its already march and most colleges/varsities are closed for applications and I dont want to waste the rest of the year… I find myself caught often between a rock and a hard place trying to figure out what I want the next 50 years to look like…

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Alexander Heyne March 16, 2014 at 10:42 am

Hey Robert,

Let’s rewind a bit – are there other fields you could go into using your sports science degree? Maybe there are alternatives to coaching.

Also, if animals and the outdoors are your passion, have you considered other programs in that field? What makes you think you won’t be making enough?

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Joseph April 10, 2014 at 12:28 am

Hello,

I’m still trying to figure out what I want out of my life, and I’ve read some interesting articles along the way. However, just as you mentioned in “Killing Your Old Life and Living the Dream”, I usually skim through them and forget about them until I’m feeling desperate for a purpose again. That said, I have tried to be thorough with them lately, as my own thoughts and feelings just don’t work. I think that’s my real problem, because whenever I’m told to think of something I enjoy or something that gives me some sense of purpose, I can’t even think of any general ideas. Even worse, I will be out of high school fairly soon, and into college. I already despise my experiences with school, and I’m not looking forward to the work (and debt) college has to offer me. Some people tell me to endure, but it just doesn’t seem worth it considering how much time will be spent doing work I hate for a completely unknown goal. I just don’t see a point living sometimes, when this is the best that life has to offer. I want to dream big and attempt to achieve those dreams, even if they’re seemingly unreachable to others, but I just can’t even begin to narrow down what I enjoy or find fulfillment in. Listing what I enjoy just draws a blank, and trying new things is something I can’t find time for, or even figure out how to do while I have to focus on school. I’m sorry my comment is practically composed of complaints, but I feel like I needed to get it out.

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Alexander Heyne April 10, 2014 at 11:30 am

Hi Joseph,

What do you think is preventing you from getting to the life you want to be living?

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Joseph April 15, 2014 at 1:14 am

I honestly think it’s fear, but instead of having the fear of something truly challenging and possibly rewarding in my future, it’s the fear of boredom. There are plenty of things that I’ve tried and can truthfully say that I want no more of, when it comes to classes, career paths, interests, or even hobbies just because I find them so uninteresting after trying them out. I plan on trying out new things, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever find something that I feel gives me a good sense of purpose. I guess I could also just be very impatient, but there’s just not much enjoyment I can find in most things that I’ve tried.

Kris May 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Hey Joseph,

I completely resonate with everything you have mentioned. I have thought my way to mental explosion and I’m still at a loss as to what the fuck I should do with my life. What’s worse is I’m now thirty-two years of age and I am nowhere near as sharp as I used to be. I used to be the life of the party whereas now I try to avoid people. WTF?

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Joseph May 23, 2014 at 10:54 pm

It’s beyond frustrating, isn’t it? And I just suppose that no one has even figured out how to do it! Either that, or they don’t want to or know how to help.

Kris May 31, 2014 at 2:27 am

If it’s any consolation man I’m already thirty-two years of age and to further exacerbate the problem I feel as though my intellectual capacity is rapidly diminishing which as a result, is increasing my anxiety the longer I procrastinate. My advice to you (without expecting you to receive it wholesomely) is to just try anything that you have even the slightest interest in because you’ve still got the time to fail or on the other hand succeed without having the desire to continue in a specific field/subject! Just grab something and run with it bro because before you know it you’ll fall into an estranged sense of being with regard to society and even ambition which will escalate quicker than you feel you can recover from and lead you into a downward spiral of anguish and depression. If you have any opinions on this comment please don’t hesitate to reply and in the interim I genuinely wish you all the very best irrespective of the fact we barely even know each other.

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Joseph June 27, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Whenever I do find something I’m at least somewhat interested in, I grow tired of it very fast and eventually begin to hate it. College isn’t going to work for me, especially when I have no idea where I’m heading. Plus, the repetitive nature and lack of purpose in school has only made me more furious over time. I’m not going to waste my time and money on something I know I will hate. I’ve been told that I won’t get anything accomplished with that attitude, and I believe it, but I won’t get anything accomplished by going into something I know I will hate and fail in.

Markie May 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

This is gonna sound like crap, but my problem is I enjoy multiple creative pursuits, any of which I would be happy making a career out of. The problem is, in order for me to pursue one, I would have to let the others fall away, or at least not be able to foster them even as sparingly as I do now. I’m 21 and married with a child, happily so, but my ability to explore in the geographical sense is severely limited. I just want to pick one thing and start going for it, but every time I do, six months later I change my mind. How do I choose from a list of things that make me equally happy and I get equally sick of after a certain amount of time?

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Alexander Heyne May 9, 2014 at 11:57 am

Hey Markie,

Lemme ask you this: why do you change your mind 6 months later?

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Kelly May 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Hey, so I am 20 years old. I honestly feel confused, I don’t know what to do with myself, what to major in, what to do next. I’m just completely lost at this point. I’ve always wanted to work in the film/television industry. I’ve wanted to be a movie director for as long as I can remember. I’ve wanted to travel and meet new ppl and I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have the support, but I’m just constantly telling myself to just be more realistic. So I start jumping from what I want to do. So I start to think maybe going towards the medical field or business management. Two totally different things!!!I’m still as a undeclared major and I need to choose already. My biggest fear like you said is having to wake up one day and just be miserable with what I’m doing. Not being happy with my life… I want to make the best out of what I do. My family tells me to go for a medical career, but.. What if it’s not for me? I mean if I’m questioning it does that mean it’s not??? Ughh, just want to rip my hair out.

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Alexander Heyne May 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

“I’ve always wanted to work in the film/television industry. I’ve wanted to be a movie director for as long as I can remember.”

So why aren’t you trying to get into this industry?

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Victoria July 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Hi Kelly,
I was in the same boat as you until about 3 months ago. I was going to school to pursue entertainment and work in production until this opportunity fell into my lap. I stopped to think, why am I really in school? What do I actually want to do in life and do I actually want to go do that or is it just because that’s what i’ve been told I need to go do my entire life? We really do have one life to live, and I do not want to spend it working a 9-5 until I retire at 72, watch 10 years of TV and then die. There is a way out. If we want different results, we need to do something different wouldn’t you agree? 97% of the population goes and gets a job after college because that is what we are taught to go do. But Donald Trump even says, JOB stand for Journey of the Broke. This opportunity for me was a way to take control of my own income and determine how much I am worth. It is by far the best opportunity for young people. Our generation is taking a stand and changing the way people are paid in the economy!! Check out the link and fill out your info if you want more information:)

victoriasmithypr.com

All the Best,
Victoria

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John May 14, 2014 at 2:09 am

Hi Alex,
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a racecar driver. I even used to race go-karts as a kid and got to be pretty good behind the wheel. Financial issues took me out of the game one year, and even when finances got back on track, I never did. My dad used to put a lot of effort into getting me on the track, but that suddenly stopped. I slowly realized I wasn’t going to get his help anymore so I made a bold move my third year of college and moved to North Carolina where I have an uncle who used to work in the industry. I’m now a 21 year old motorsports engineering major who is sickened at the very notion of ‘engineering’. I absolute hate engineering! I just couldn’t think of more tedious work. I only went with this major because I was willing to do anything to get into racing and nobody was willing to help me. All I get when I tell people I want to be a racecar driver is the usual, condescending, ‘yeah, right’ laugh and the ‘you just need to take the sure thing route’ speech. I don’t know what it is, I just know that I don’t want to do anything but actually be the driver. Now I find myself furthest from there that I’ve ever been–seems how I live on my own, surviving from paycheck to paycheck, and digging myself into more and more debt with school. It’s an unlikely goal to reach, but I don’t care, I need to try. Problem is I can’t try until someone else believes in me and is willing to take the same chance I am. Or until I come into the possession of the resources I need. Maybe this is the wrong place to ask this question, but is school really the right way to go? If I stay in school, I will be far too old to get back into, and learn the next levels of, racecars by the time I graduate, let alone find a decent paying job to support it. But on the other hand, if I don’t stay in school I have nobody to help push my dreams into fruition anyways. I would be stuck back in square one.

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Alexander Heyne May 14, 2014 at 9:52 am

Hey John,

Look at those who are living the life you want – did the previous drivers have an education? Is there somebody you could talk to who is currently living this dream to figure out how they did it?

Or, for you, are there some other steps (another path) you can take to get closer to this dream?

Honestly – for some, school isn’t the best route. But it’s an important thing to fall back on.

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Kyle W June 29, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Hey you pretty much hit what I’m struggling with on the head. I’m 22 and I thought I was going to be a firefighter for the last 3 years but now I’ve had a change of heart. I found out that my dislike for hospitals is more of a phobia. Yet, I still think it would be a good job to have. You’d get good benefits, respect from others, not to mention most of the firefighters I know really enjoy their jobs. Now I’m planning on going to school in the fall for a sports management degree which seems to be a good direction for me, but I can’t help but think I’m making a huge mistake for totally giving up on something I’ve spent 3 years working on. As you can tell I’m all over the place at this point in my life and could really use an outside perspective on things.

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Alexander Heyne June 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Hey Kyle,

What does a firefighter have to do with hospitals?

Why don’t you volunteer as a firefighter for 3 months to see what it’s like and if you like it?

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Stefani July 10, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Hi Alex,

So I’ve been reading everything I could get my hands on regarding this subject and I just can’t help but still feel hopeless. I’ve done 1 year of an English/History degree and had to take a break due to financial reasons. I’m looking into continuing it next year but so far this year, the break has only done me worse. I wish to finish my degree and go teach overseas but I just can’t seem to shred the doubt that seems to be lingering around my mind as to whether I should continue the degree or switch to something else. I can’t pin point what exactly has me saying “I shouldn’t continue because…” but it always seems to be in my thoughts. It’s been giving me some anxiety and I’m not quite sure how to tackle the issue.

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Alexander Heyne July 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Hi Stefani – why are you currently studying English/history?

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Stefani July 19, 2014 at 5:37 pm

To be quite honest – I chose that because I had no idea what else to do. Eventually I could get into teaching if nothing else comes along but I find myself forever second guessing every choice I make. I do know that once I finish I want to go overseas and teach for the experience and the opportunity to explore but after that thought I find myself always asking the question – what then? I also find myself looking around at people who are studying more ‘meaningful’ things such as nursing, law etc which give a secure direction to where they’re going as oppose to moving overseas and not really having a plan for afterwards.

I know I just threw a whole bunch of things at you but my mind seems to be in such a cluster about everything. I just constantly feel hopeless and anxious.

Stefani July 19, 2014 at 7:07 pm

You are right. I can’t quite fathom how ridiculously easy it is for me to get lost in this endless track of ‘what if’s’. But then again who can at 20. Among other things, that will definitely be my next step.

Your site is beyond amazing and insightful; so very glad I stumbled upon it. I can’t help but just explore through it. Hope to one day find what you seem to have found.

Thank you for your quick reply’s.

George July 27, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Hey I’m 17 from the uk. Yes I know what you’re thinking. He’s 17 he’s too young to even think about this shit blah blah blah. I’ve got exams that I’m told I need to not only pass but do well in to have a good job and be successful. But the truth is I already know that I really don’t want to go down the career many people chose and what you call the 9-5 grind which is exceptionally true. By understanding this now must be some sort of sign that it’s the complete wrong path for me. I just don’t want to be another statistic of graduates getting. A Job and basicly doing sweet fuck all with there lives. And if I’m honest I’m fucking scared. Everything’s changing at an alarming pace and with comments such as ” the job you will be doing once you leave education wouldn’t have even been created when you started school”. What am I supposed to think,do, say – even believe what I wanna do ? Can anyone help
Me out?

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Joshua Nevard August 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

Hey Alexander,

I’m currently 20 years old working two retail jobs, one is ok and the other one sucks. I keep thinking about my future and I just can’t decide on what to do, it’s grinding at me everyday. I’m saving to go travelling again but even then I don’t have a plan..

I guess my question is, I don’t have a clue on what I want so how do I go about finding this?

Thanks for your time,

Josh :)

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Alexander Heyne August 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Hey Josh –

Start with your intuition – in less than 30 seconds, what kind of stuff sounds cool, or what kind of things do you want to be a “master” in, if anything?

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Auron September 3, 2014 at 12:51 am

Hey,
I’m a 19 year old dude, just graduated high school 4 months ago. I never cared for school enough to try to excel or anything, I mean I was an A student and all that jazz, but it was just all too easy (not trying to brag or anything here) and to me, pointless. And that coupled with severe depression and debilitating social anxiety led to a whole lot of not caring. So needless to say I did absolutely zero preparation for college, not that I actually wanted to go to college in the first place, and now, at least as society/my family are concerned, I’ve just about screwed myself. I’m one of those imaginitive, creative types, drawing, writing,painting, sculpting, etc. I’m exceedingly interested in creating things. The only problem is I have SO many things I want to do and each one would be considered far-fetched to put it lightly, and they’re all completely unrelated. Of course my parents advice for a next step is to go to schcool and get a job like the rest of the world. Thanks guys, very helpful. But that’s not what I want for my life, I want to experience everything this crazy worlds got to offer, I want to just go for it, but I don’t know which step to take next, deciding on what I want to do is like picking a favourite child, it’s absolutely impossible… and I don’t want to wake up in ten years and realize that I’ve made the wrong decision, and that I’ve let my dreams die. Some days I feel like just packing a bag and leaving, just picking a direction and walking, walking until my legs give up and I pass out on the sidewalk, then getting up and doing it again. Right now I’m practically broke, have no prospective school options (nor the money to pay for school), I’m literally living with my parents doing almost nothing day to day with only my outrageous ambitions to keep me going. I want to own a restaurant, start a theme park, work on movie sets, write a book, be an artist, an animator, scale mountains, travel, meet and connect people worth knowing, volunteer around the world, contribute to humanity in some way other than being another rotting piece of flesh tapping away at a computer or packing shelves just to get the funds to keep myself alive while time plots my demise. What the hell do I do?

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Alexander Heyne September 7, 2014 at 11:05 am

Pick one – and run with it until it doesn’t feel right anymore.

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christine September 10, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Wow. I’m so glad I’m not the only one.
So I actually googled ” what to do with my life” and I ended up here. I know its lame. I’m 21 years old. I qualified as a Air hostess and a Chef. Save to say I don’t do either. I honestly don’t think there is anything I can do for 7days and not get bored.

I have no idea even where to start.
I live in South Africa which might be the problem.

Everyone says -where do you see yourself in 5years- great advise if I knew. I can’t even picture myself in a month.

I’m scared that If I delay NOT DOING ANYTHING I might not ever get back in the – work life-

And I’m scared that I might not find out what I’m really good at.(let’s hope there is something)

I don’t like that “people” pressures me to do something I know I hate.

So I’m stuck behind this wall and don’t know what to do.

any thoughts ..

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Luck November 1, 2014 at 6:26 am

Hi Alex,

I’m facing the same issues as you have mentioned in your blog “You’re young, you’ve got some options, you have no freaking clue what to do. My job sucks but I don’t know what other kind of work I’d like. Sound familiar?”

I’m not sure what to do with my life. I have no passion for anything. I’m not enjoying my work and just surviving as they are paying me well. Kindly suggest.

Regards,
Luck

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Alexander Heyne November 5, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Hey Luck –

Well, what do you want from life, first of all?

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vinay November 25, 2014 at 4:55 am

I am 25 year old male,which i never completed my education after high school,i have a job that absolutely i hate it,i am kinda anti social i don’t talk much with people around me not even with my family ..i feel like i am stuck in my life i don’t know what to do with my life anymore..i have no passion for anything my biggest fear is where am i going to end before its too late to realize..i need some suggestion..sorry for my bad english..

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Alexander Heyne November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

Hey Vinay –

Who (anyone in the world) is living a cool life to you?

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oskar November 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

Hey Alex,

My name is oskar and im from Australia. I am a 20yo male and i attempted to study engineering at uni for about 2 years and failed due to my lack of effort and inability to try. I left out of hate and did nothing for a few months now im pressured to find a new line of work. I tried to do electrician trade for a couple weeks but i only lasted 2 days. What should i do, sign myself off to a trade ill hate in hope of retraining later?

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Alexander Heyne November 25, 2014 at 11:21 am

Which trade will lead you to learning more and gaining skills, while also being moderately enjoyable?

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oskar November 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm

i was thinking about being an electrician but i dont know what sort of life they live, like are you always struggling for work? should i go back to uni and maybe do teaching though its going to be so hard

Alexander Heyne July 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Stefani –

“What then” is a question that will forever leave you miserable. If you don’t stop thinking about the future, it’s impossible to be happy – and get rid of that anxiousness and hopelessness. Just focus on the next step – what’s the next step?

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