This is a really tough question to answer for a number of reasons. Here are some guidelines that might help you narrow down the possibilities. Some of them are blatant ripoffs from a variety of sources including Steve Pavlina, and others.
- The first few times you will probably be wrong. Better make those mistakes quick. I hope this takes the pressure off. You need the pressure off to be able to make any sort of a decision.
- Most mistakes are not fatal. Even if you’re in school, find out you like something but don’t have the requisite courses, you can still find a way to get them, either through online universities or night school or what have you. Where there is a will, there is a way.
- You don’t even know many of the possible professions that are out there, and there’s a chance that you might either invent your own profession or it hasn’t even come into being yet.
- Trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life (which could easily be up to 80+ years depending on how old you are) is a ridiculous proposition. People have been estimated to have 3-5 careers in a lifetime and that will probably go up as time goes on.
- Learn about making money by investing. For example, if you save 100 dollars a month from 20 to 65, returned at 10%, you’d have just a shade over a million dollars. That’s $1,000,000. So, you don’t necessarily have to worry too much about money. Focus instead on doing what you love to do.
- Don’t worry too much about it. Don’t take on pressure to answer this question because that’s just not how it works.
- Four questions to think about to narrow this search space:
- What do you need to do? Physical needs. For example, need a house, need say 25,000 a year to live and above that to enjoy living.
- What do you want to do?
- What should you do? The voice of your conscience. For example, I feel I should help people.
- What can you do? Your skills and abilities.
- Another tip from Warren Buffett is to go to work for people you admire. That’s actually a genius idea when you think about it. The people you genuinely admire for doing something in particular tend to do something you love or care about. For example, I greatly admire Warren Buffett not just for his success but also his character and frugal nature. I also greatly admire David Fincher, Guy Ritchie and Bryan Singer for making very captivating and intriguing films and just telling a good yarn. And so on.
- Figuring out what you enjoy your interests might also help you when it comes down to formulating a “what can you do?” answer. For example, say I want to become a psychologist but don’t have the grades, money or inclination. I want to become a psychologist because I want to help people with their mental problems. I might then consider becoming a therapist or a counselor, both easier to become.
- If you keep trying to find out what you love, you’ll probably get there. I remember reading/hearing that the average millionaire goes through 12 professions before they find the profession that makes them their million, presumably because that is what they really love to do. So keep trying.
Some more sources:
Just browse around the Steve Pavlina archives, especially the Meaning of Life series.