“In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
Ah, how hard a thing it is to tell what a wild, and rough, and stubborn wood this was!”
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
Life is hard.
It can also be enormously confusing.
Here’s what to do if you’re lost in life and wondering what the hell to do next.
What to do in life when you feel lost: 11 key tips
1) Realize how far you’ve already come
If you’re looking for what to do in life when you feel lost, I know exactly how you’re feeling.
I’ve been there myself in various ways: in work, in love and just in general.
It’s a disempowering feeling, as though you got dropped off at a bus stop that doesn’t exist and now you’re wandering along with no sense of where you’re even headed.
Just when you think you make out a house in the distance or some kind of marker, it turns out to be another mirage.
But what you need to do first of all is realize how far you’ve already come.
Just by being physically alive, you’ve beaten the odds: first, in being born at all.
Secondly, by continuing to be alive long enough to read this article.
No matter how down and lost you feel, just remember that you’re already a winner by still breathing.
Consider this a free space on your bingo card.
Let’s get started on that positive note and go on to tip two.
2) Look for any road signs you can see
I mentioned how there are often what looks like signs and hope that turn out to be a mirage.
This could be a job opportunity, a new person you meet, hope about travel or moving and many more things.
When it falls through you may feel even more devastated due to the hopes you had.
You’re wandering around grasping for clues and trying to see something, but echoes of past disappointments and criticisms are all you hear.
It’s like you’re in a dystopian future and it’s your own life.
But look around carefully for any signs you can see.
They may not always be bright and glitzy. Look for small things and pay attention to the feeling in your heart.
What is the sadness and confusion in your heart telling you?
First of all, it’s telling you that what you’ve been doing in life at least recently is not satisfying you, or has come to an end in a way that now leaves you adrift.
That’s why the next step is to:
3) Find your purpose in life
Life has so many things which happen that are out of our control.
But one of the few things that is in our control in most cases is to find and try to follow our purpose.
The next question, naturally, is how to find your purpose.
In New Age and among many spiritual types, there’s a tendency to believe in the so-called “Law of Attraction” or that positive visualization and “raising your vibrations” will enlighten you about why you’re here.
The truth is that visualization can actually leave you stuck in daydreams instead of planning a real future.
If you want to find out your purpose for real without the New Age frills, I encourage you to check out this free video from Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s on the hidden trap of improving yourself.
Justin formerly was very into New Age teachers as well and they ended up misleading him and taking him backwards in his search for his purpose.
He found that he was shelling out money to basically be gaslighted and forced to be “positive.” And he wasn’t getting any closer to actually manifesting his dreams or finding out what to do in life.
It wasn’t until he shook things up and went to Brazil to meet the renowned shaman Rudá Iandê that things really began to change.
Rudá taught Justin a life-changing new way to find your purpose and use it to transform your life and the lives of those around you.
Rudá’s teaching completely changed the way I look at myself and showed me a clear way to find out why I’m here and what to do next.
4) Be the change
As corny as it is to say, you also must begin to “be the change you want to see.”
In practical terms, this means that you have to find a burning core inside yourself and begin to work with it.
Using the method to find your purpose in life without visualization, you can begin to find out how your struggles are directly linked to your purpose.
You can learn how to transform your pain and “stuckness” into power and freedom.
I know that I often feel like I’m stuck in a world of robots, with everyone going about their appointed task mindlessly and without passion.
It can feel so disempowering like you can’t do anything but fade into the scenery and become a robot as well.
But you have a choice.
You can step out of the line and be a human. You can start creating a new world that has a place for creativity and individuality.
5) Small steps in the right direction…
When you feel lost in life, it’s tempting to try and fix it all at once and run towards the next impulse you have.
Surely the answer is to double down on your efforts to build this latest relationship…
Or sink all your savings into the new business venture and cross your fingers that it will work out.
But the problem with big steps is that even when they’re generally in the right direction they can be too far, too fast.
Instead, you’re much more well-advised to take small steps in the right direction first.
Whatever small sign you see about what to do next, and the purpose you find in yourself, begin working toward it in small increments.
6)…Beat giant leaps backwards
When you succumb to the impulse to take huge steps forward or take actions on a grand scale, it often ends in disappointment.
When you feel lost in life, this is a time to follow the kind of goal setting that will take you closer to a goal steadily, rather than in one make-or-break moment. The film Uncut Gems shows the danger of taking giant leaps and bets impulsively.
The main character bets everything and wins, but he’s made so many bad decisions surrounding his other actions leading up to the giant leap that it ends up costing him everything.
7) Seek out the spiritual
Another thing for what to do in life when you feel lost is to seek out the spiritual.
This is going to look different for every different person.
For one individual it may indeed involve going to a Buddhist retreat or a meditation workshop for a few days.
For another, it could mean practicing breathwork on their own or beginning to listen to lectures by a spiritual or religious teacher. The form in which you begin to seek out the spiritual is really up to you.
What’s important is that you try to do it and to find that part of yourself which feels a lack of answers and satisfaction in life.
Make friends with it and accept it. Let it transform into a search for truth.
Many others have been where you are now, lost and feeling alone.
People like the Italian poet Dante who I quoted at the beginning here. But they let that lost experience become something special and begin leading them towards a revelation and truth.
Sometimes you need to sit for a long time in the dark before you can begin to see the light.
Sometimes you may see that things you once thought of as ordinary are actually far more beautiful and profound than you realized.
As the English poet William Blake said:
“To some people a tree is something so incredibly beautiful that it brings tears to the eyes. To others, it is just a green thing that stands in the way.”
8) Acknowledge and act
If you’re wondering what to do in life when you feel lost, you must acknowledge how you’re feeling and then take action.
The feeling of being lost can be humiliating and disempowering, certainly, but it won’t help to deny it, as I pointed out at the beginning.
You must acknowledge where you’re at and then begin to take steps to act on it.
This time can actually be a change for the better if you allow it to be and remain patient and committed to the process.
“A sense of feeling lost in life can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with.
However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in your life if you acknowledge them and act.”
It’s all about turning this lost experience into a catalyst for action.
And to do that you also need to:
9) Avoid the victim trap
When you feel lost in life, it’s easy to get caught up in the victim trap.
All of us fall prey to this at some times, because sometimes we really are victimized by life.
We get left by someone we really loved…
We get let down by a business opportunity we were really counting on…
We end up feeling isolated or scared by a medical problem that we didn’t expect…
And so on.
These really can be victimizing experiences that leave us worried we will be left behind and crushed by life.
But the victim trap is when you make this your identity and take what is happening personally.
So, how do you avoid the victim trap?
The number one way is by realizing this is not personally targeted against you and secondly by continuing to care for yourself in the basic ways that take care of your body and wellbeing.
This means that you need to look after yourself properly and still do some of the basic lifestyle things that make you feel put together.
“For instance, you might keep your nourishing bedtime routine and your weekly lunch with your best friend because you always feel better after talking with them,” advises Margarita Tartakovsky.
Recalibrating is a process of adjusting the various parts of something to either fix it or improve it.
Recalibrating your life is a matter of looking at the various parts and seeing what you need to adjust in order to get back on your feet again.
Could it involve moving to a new place?
Staying where you are and changing careers?
Ending a relationship that’s left you feeling lost and exploited?
Or could it be focusing on your own fitness and mental health for a period of time as you feel overwhelmed by events out of your control?
Whatever it is that you decide to recalibrate, trust yourself in this process and commit to it.
11) Come face-to-face with your discomfort zone
Your discomfort zone is the place where you want to avoid because it’s not enjoyable.
However, as in so many cases, what you want is not always what’s best for you or your long-term well-being.
Coming face-to-face with your discomfort zone is crucial if you want to find your way again.
What this could mean depends entirely on your situation…
It might mean rebuilding a business from the ground up…
Learning how to be single after many years of having a partner…
Transforming a feeling of loneliness into helping and caring for others in a meaningful way…
And much, much more.
Embrace that discomfort zone. That place you feel is just too much bother and too confronting can often be where your most meaningful transformations take place.
Finding your feet again
Finding your feet again isn’t easy when you feel lost in life.
Using the ten tips ahead, however, you can slowly but surely turn this thing around.
Just remember that you are valuable and that what you do matters.
You matter, and you have the ability to change the choices you make and begin to take small steps to having a meaningful and fulfilling life.