How do you figure out what you actually WANT?

<p>Strange title, I know, but I am genuinely curious.</p>

<p>I'm a person who's GREAT at getting to goals. I wanted to lose weight and gain muscle in high school, I did. I wanted to go to my current college and get into our competitive physics program, I did. I wanted to beat out a zillion other applicants for my current cushy job, I did. I'm not saying this to brag like a d*ckweed on an internet forum, but I am very good at setting goals and making progress towards them. The problem is I can't decide what the hell I want and even when I do, why I want it. Take something like, crap, I don't know, 'Be kickass at solving math problems' or whatever and I can sit there and draw up plans and steps how to get there, but once I do it's like an empty victory and I'm incredibly jealous of anyone who even has a vague idea of what they want.</p>

<p>It seems like this'd be a fine way to go through life but it feels like everything is disconnected and I'm just chasing a handful of random goals with no real purpose behind them. The number one thing I see on CC is 'Find out what you want (to do/to study/from life/from your grandma/whatever)' but HOW? And while I appreciate all responses, ones like 'Follow your passions/hobbys/cult's teachings' or 'join clubs' aren't really all that helpful.</p>

<p>Why aren't they helpful? Joining clubs and volunteering with random groups was how I figured out what I wanted. Just because it's not the answer you like doesn't mean it's not the answer.</p>

<p>That implies that there is a THE answer. And I joined plenty, went to the meetings, talked with the people and made an effort, but nothing ever stuck. One definition of stupidity, if I remember correctly, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. At best, it could net me more friends or a more pleasant use of my time, but saying that joining backgammon club or volunteering at a soup kitchen is a panacea for people to find their 'true calling' is a little naive.</p>

<p>If it's an empty victory, maybe it's because it's something you never really wanted to do?</p>

<p>You might wanna start with finding out what makes you happy in life.</p>

<p>If it didn't stick, you know that's not it. You ruled something out. The only way to find what makes you happy is to keep trying different things until one sticks. Joining clubs and volunteering is only one way to do that, and one you can surely reject if you want, but it's one of the easiest and one that requires the least commitment. There is no magic answer to how to find what you want to do, you just have to try things and see what strikes a chord with you. What do you think everybody else does?</p>

<p>What makes you happy?</p>

You might wanna start with finding out what makes you happy in life.


<p>That's the point of this thread, I'm afraid :) Thank you both, though.</p>

<p>I have no idea what everyone else does. It seems like they mostly follow your guess-and-shoot method but I was wondering if there was anything else. It's frustrating having tried out tens of different things in wildly different areas and having nothing fit so I apologize for being a little disgruntled with the 'join clubs' attitude.</p>

<p>Maybe it's ennui, who knows?</p>

<p>I thought the point of this thread was to figure out what you want to do in life.</p>

<p>What things do you do that make you happy? Any clubs? Jobs? Interests? Do you like helping people? Do you like making tons of money? Do you like science? Writing? Those sorts of questions.</p>

<p>edit: I'm not 100% certain on it, but for instance right now I'm considering going into law enforcement after college. How did I arrive to that? Well, I like working with people. I like helping people. I want to do something for the community I live in, I want a job that isn't the same boring bean-counting day in and day out, I want something that's not your typical 9 to 5. The benefits are also pretty nice. For a bit more background, I went to a very liberal elite high school where most people think of these sorts of jobs as 'below' them... everyone wants to be a six-figure-a-year banker... or lawyer... meh.</p>

<p>well, if the goals you're setting are like "be kickass at math" then isn't that kind of a random goal with no real purpose? if you put that goal (i'm not trying to minimize your accomplishments) into a larger context like "explore physics career" and then you did that by being kickass at physics and scoring a competitive summer internship then maybe it would feel more "connected"?</p>

<p>Don't stress too much because no one really knows what they want at 20. Our goals and what we want change throughout life. We can't tell you what you want but don't worry if you don't have plan X set in motion or whatever. </p>

<p>one of my "goals" in college was to become a happier and more well-rounded person. I think this is a goal everyone can benefit from (differently). I wanted to expand my group of friends - i did. I wanted to become a become a better artist - i worked on that and my paintings won contests...I got a great research lab internship and started a branch of an established NPO called "Doc to Dock" at my college and am running that. I didn't set X goal for Y time since I'm always looking to expand my social circle, hobbies, or NPO work (esp now with Haiti) so it continually gives me something to improve on rather than "check it off the list"</p>

<p>I never joined a bazillion clubs or volunteered all day. If you're not into that stuff, don't do it - find things to improve in your life that you're genuinally interested in. if you dont' want it, the victory will always feel empty.</p>

<p>What makes me happy? Who knows these days. A lot of stuff but not one single part of it that I like more than another. I like physics, I hate almost every single career you can get with it. I like fencing, I don't want to do it professionally or teach it to people. Every thing I like when promoted to a higher purpose or the 'next level' turns out to be unsuitable. Unless I can really be an amateur fencing physicist my whole life, I need to pick at least some combination that I can stand, which is where the difficulty lies and there seems to be no way for me to think my way around it. I appreciate the suggestion to find a bigger purpose but that's exactly what I tried and failed to do. I tried aiming at a larger purpose or goal and finding smaller hobbies that go towards it, that didn't work. I tried finding small hobbies or groups and turning those into something more and that didn't work either. There doesn't seem to be a third option and what everyone's saying seems to be 'try again' but at what point does this become futile? I think soon. I can do a whole slew of things well but I can't get very interested in any one over the others.</p>

<p>I understand your frustration. I had a bit of an identity crisis when I started college because I loved film and thought that was what I wanted to do, and then it wasn't, and then I had no idea. It took me two years to figure it out. I took classes in subjects that sounded interesting and I joined clubs that sounded interesting and I started doing volunteer work, I just took little interests that didn't seem like they were that big of a deal and played with them until they developed, and then it just seemed to click into place. I had expected when I finally chose what I wanted it would be this big event. I ended up posting something in my blog to the effect of, "so, I am going to change my mind ten more times, but just to try it on for size: I am going to major in political science." And then I never changed my mind. It just happened that way, and I've fallen more and more in love with my field as time has gone on. You just have to stay open minded, keep trying new things (whatever that means to you), and be patient. I don't think you can force this kind of a commitment. When it happens, you'll just know.</p>

<p>For me, I think I was focusing too hard on the end goal and not enough on the process and what that end goal really means. I was trying to think of specific jobs I wanted, specific subjects I wanted to be involved in, etc and so forth, and not about why those things were a good fit for me. By accident, when I was floundering around not knowing the answers to those questions, I discovered I am passionately in love with advocacy and with helping people, I don't think I can be fulfilled if I am not doing those things, and once I had that figured out it was easier to pick a field based on the way I felt most comfortable pursuing those things.</p>

<p>Maybe you just need to adjust how you are thinking about it? I don't know. I hope my thought process sheds some light or at least gives you some ideas to consider. I know it's hard to not know.</p>

<p>Why do you like physics?</p>

<p>These kinds of things can come to you in strange ways. Joining the military made me want to become a meteorologist. It's fairly complicated; can't really explain it easily.</p>

<p>oooh i love these questions</p>

<p>I see how you could get tired of the same old "follow your passion" advice because its so vague</p>

<p>I'll explain more deeply</p>

<p>When you understand what excitement is, you realize that you always dont have to look at every little detail to know what to do</p>

<p>You can follow your joy/excitement, not just goals, but at any given moment on ANYTHING</p>

<p>it doesnt have to be a career thing, but they're connected</p>

<p>In other words, if right now, out of all the options you have when you leave this forum discussion, out of all the options of things you have available to you as things you could choose to do, if you look at all the options and realize that simply taking a walk, or driving your car, or calling a friend, is the most exciting thing out of all the options, THATS THE THING TO DO.</p>

<p>Just because its the most exciting. You dont need a reason why.
Its the excitement that tells you "thats the next thing you need to do"</p>

<p>Its the excitement in the simple things that tells you what simple things are actually connected to the bigger things that excite you</p>

<p>and will actually get you there, in what may seem to be a roundabout manner, but by following the excitement, its actually the shortest, fastest, straightest path</p>

<p>so.. every moment, if you simply choose the thing that excites you at that moment out of all the things you have available to you, that you have the ability to actually take action on, DO IT, take action on that thing</p>

<p>When you cannot take action on that thing any further, look around to see what is the next most exciting thing to take action on, and do that, whatever it is, even if it doesnt seem "connected" to anything else, do it because the excitement tells you it is connected</p>

<p>Your excitement brings with it things that actually are important for you in a broader sense, even if it you dont see it. </p>

<p>More and more I see how everything kind of just happens for a reason, and I just go with the flow.</p>

<p>You gotta stop fighting the current and just jump in the river and see where life takes you.</p>

<p>But then, once you find out where that is, work your damn azz off to get there or it or whatever it might be.</p>

<p>The fact that you're thinking about this bodes well. Seems to me the key thing is constantly updating those goals that you're so good at achieving...I had a roommate whose sole goal in life was Getting A PhD. Which she did. And then spent 12 years being unfocused until she figured out what it was she wanted to do next. Which she did, and is now really happy with her life.</p>

<p>Take a look at the things that make you happy. What about them makes them good for you? </p>

<p>Do you have days where your activities are not "spectacular," but you know you would love to have days like that more often?<br>
An example: I had to wake up early one day to fly a glider. I was tired and hungry. Yet, when I was finished, the world seemed almost perfect. It really wasn't (I had projects to do, classes to attend, it was a bit chilly out, I was still tired, etc), but I knew I would gladly have days like that more often. When you have days like that--days where things seem better than you know they are--pay attention! You probably just found something you are passionate about.</p>

<p>It seems you've already found your goal.
Figuring out what you want is a goal in itself, and since you're convinced you won't achieve it anytime soon, then you can't conquer it and you have solved your original conundrum.</p>

<p>"Do you have days where your activities are not "spectacular," but you know you would love to have days like that more often?
An example: I had to wake up early one day to fly a glider. I was tired and hungry. Yet, when I was finished, the world seemed almost perfect. It really wasn't (I had projects to do, classes to attend, it was a bit chilly out, I was still tired, etc), but I knew I would gladly have days like that more often. When you have days like that--days where things seem better than you know they are--pay attention! You probably just found something you are passionate about."</p>

<p>Good advice!</p>

<p>@raimius holy ****. Same Raimius from BF2s????</p>

<p>Yes. How are you doing, Hurricane?</p>