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How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

How To Figure Out What You Want In Life
Carly Jacobs
How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

If you’re struggling to figure out what you want in life, trust me you’re not alone.

It’s kind of scary because there are so many things you could do. Be a forensic scientist, a jewellery historian, a dentist, a pattern maker, a physio therapist, a ballet teacher. I mean the world is just full of incredible careers, it’s borderline rude that we have to just pick one.

I’ve had a few careers in my time. I’ve worked in childcare, retail, hospitality, bars and theatres. I’ve been a teacher in high schools, disability schools and primary schools. I’ve been a copywriter and content creator for the last ten years. I’m a qualified jeweller and watch technician. Career hopping is one of my vices which means I’m uniquely qualified to tell you this secret. It doesn’t actually matter WHAT you do with your life and what career you choose, the conditions matter more than actual job. Hear me out. This is the true key to figure out what you want in life.

How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

Remember 2020 to 2022 when almost everyone started working from home and everything though it was amazing? Those of us who had been working from home for a while were watching this wide-spread realisation and thinking ‘Well, der! Working from home is awesome’. We were like the long-term residents of a lovely coastal town that hadn’t been ruined by tourists or tree-changers.

I’ve knew for a REALLY long time how much I wanted to work from home, and I spent the better half of my youth focussed on being a work from home freelancer. (For those of you playing at home, I’ve been a work from home freelancer for about 10 years now. It’s ace.) 

Many moons ago, I used to be a special needs teacher. I loved the teaching part, all the admin and bureaucracy is what made me leave the profession. The paperwork was utter nonsense. Anyway, years ago, I was teaching two classes in the same week. On Thursdays, I taught at the main campus, which was a 35-minute drive away from my flat. The drive was awful. Really slow and the roads were packed with people who had no business holding valid driver’s licenses. I once a saw a man watching The Office on his iPad propped up against the windscreen. No shit. On Fridays, I worked in a satellite classroom, which means you have a room and your own students at another school, but you’re not really a part of that school. The campus was a ten-minute walk from my flat. Both of my classes were utterly gorgeous, but the Friday Satellite class was a little bit harder work. The Thursday Main School class made me feel like I shouldn’t even be paid to teach them, they were so fun and engaged. It would be fair to assume I’d prefer Thursday’s angels to Friday’s spirited bunch right? Wrong. As the term went on, I found myself dreading Thursday and breathing a sigh of relief when Friday rolled around. 

I couldn’t put my finger on it – my Thursday class was so lovely. My Friday class was also lovely, just a little unpredictable, which makes teaching even more exhausting. By the end of the term, I had it figured it out. Regardless of the work I did between the hours of 9 to 3, here’s the difference between the two days. 


  • Wake up at 7, so I could leave by 7.30 and arrive by 8.15 when the first kids got off the bus
  • 35 for 45 minute very stressful commute each way 
  • 8.30 am start time 
  • Meetings before and/or after school 
  • Located at the central school so I’d see all staff members (this was good and bad – great for socialising, bad for time-wasting) 
  • 4 pm finish time followed by a peak hour 45 min to an hour drive home 
  • Arrive home at 5 pm 
  • Collapse in a heap and barely have the energy to move 
  • Total hours out of my own house for work purposes – 9.5 


  • Wake up at 8 am, leave at 8.30, arrive by 8.45 when the first kids got off the bus 
  • A lovely leisurely walk to work via a cafe with excellent coffee 
  • 9.15 am start time 
  • 3 pm finish time followed by a pleasant 10 min walk home via the local markets to buy yummy produce for dinner 
  • Time to go to the gym after work, cook a lovely dinner and hang out with my housemate 
  • Total hours out of the house for work purposes – 6.5 

How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

Basically, the difference between Thursdays and Fridays was 3.5 hours of bullshit. Time spent in the car, useless meetings, exposure to time wasters. It was the EXACT SAME JOB, and I was paid the EXACT SAME AMOUNT for each day, but one of the days destroyed me, and the other left me feeling pretty dang satisfied with life. 

It was a very eye-opening experience. And look, I understand that not everyone has the option to switch careers or jobs because they don’t like spending an hour and a half in the car every day. Ditto telling your boss that three team meetings a week is excessive, boring and a major waste of company resources. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s just as important to look at what you DON’T like spending your time doing as what you DO like spending your time doing. 

How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

So here are a few questions to ask to help you figure out what you want in life.

  • What do you like about your job?
  • What do you not like about your job? 
  • What do you want to spend more time doing? 
  • What do you want to spend less time doing?
  • What changes can you make without changing careers? 
  • What options do you have if you want to change careers? 
  • Are you able to work less? 
  • Are you able to work from home?
  • Do you like commuting? 
  • Do you hate commuting? 
  • Are you able to work productively from home or does an office environment suit you better? 
  • Did you enjoy being a part of a workplace and seeing colleagues every day?

During lockdown, some people will have thrived working from home, and others were probably standing outside their office on the first day back, banging on the doors, desperate for some human contact. Some people may have enjoyed having extra time at home with their kids and might try to re-jig their work-life to include more time spent at home. Other’s might have realised how much they enjoy working and relished the opportunity to get stuck back into it. 

Lockdown was an odd little gift. A way to experience a different way of life, and a fantastic opportunity to look at what really matters to you. 

How To Figure Out What You Want In Life

If your goal is to figure out what you want from life, here’s what you have to do. 

1. Spend some time figuring out what you love 

This should be pretty easy. It’s generally a list of all the things you miss doing OR the things you’re loving doing during lockdown. 

Here’s my list. 

  • Playing/laughing/giggling with my daughters 
  • Crocheting
  • Reading
  • Spending time with my extended family 
  • Camping
  • Going to the movies 
  • Spending time with my partner without our daughters around (I obviously love them I just really enjoy having conversations where two little fingers aren’t planted firmly in my nose) 
  • Cooking for friends and family 
  • Roadtrips
  • Going to the gym 
  • Travelling 
  • Having dinners out with girlfriends 
  • Spending time in the garden with my little family
  • Hiking
  • Shopping in malls (this one surprised me but I’m really craving a wander around a shopping centre)
  • Going to bed early
  • Watching true crime documentaries 
  • Weekends away

2. Say no to everything that doesn’t support what you listed above 

Within reason obviously. We need to work, we need to pay our bills and put money on the table. I’ve worked HEAPS of jobs that destroyed my soul because I needed the money and it’s likely I will do it again at some point. 

Just think carefully about what’s important to you. If you don’t mind commuting, but you’d like some extra money, take that job that’s a little further away. If you want to be home for your kids in the holidays, try to get a job with some flexibility if you can. If you love to travel, take that job that requires several interstate trips a month. If you love spending time with your family on special occasions, be wary of accepting a position where you might have to work on public holidays. 

More helpful articles.

13 Food Hacks That Will Save You Time and Your Sanity 

10 Baby Essentials I Can’t Live Without

So tell me did this help you figure out what you want in life?

Also if you liked this post you’ll probably really like my newsletter Very Excellent Habits – it goes out every Wednesday and you can sign up for it here. 


  1. Holly 4 years ago

    OMG I have so much to say ? I’ve literally today just quit my job as a special needs teacher, a job I’ve spent two years studying part time for. Thing is, I’m 52. An epically awkward age. You thought 13 was bad! Do I work? Do I study? I am definitely going to travel once we can. I am privileged to have choices but still struggle to navigate them. I need a life coach really but that sounds so self indulgent, middle class privilegey to me. I’m def having a mid life crisis. At least that means I should live to 104!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Oh gosh! Good luck! I hope you find what you’re looking for!

  2. Erica 4 years ago

    I bloody love this Carly! You have such a way with words and a way of summarising how things have been of late. I’ve been checking your blog every day and it was worth the wait for this post.

    I’ve been SO thankful to work from home (and to have my husband WFH for the first time) because I’m very sick with morning sickness. If I can stop puking, I’ll use some of your prompts for planning the future ??

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      Thank you you’re so lovely – I’ve been quiet on the blog because I’m worried about writing anything at all this year but I’m slowly getting back into it.

  3. Mirella 4 years ago

    Absolutely in love with this post. I’m going to spend some time answering these questions honestly. Thank you x

  4. SarahN 4 years ago

    Agh so many thoughts!! I’ve had four different jobs in four years, so I’ve spent lots of time comparing and contrasting them, as I’m about a month into a new job. I liked when I was at state govt cause I started at 8.30am and went til 4pm, easy train commute (loved sunshine on my face whilst I listened to podcasts) – late enough start that I did the 6am F45. I disliked that job in other ways – so bored, so often. Tied to a desk. Loved teh $$. Since then, I’ve been unemployed by choice for 6 months, then 6 months as an ops manager in a funeral home (learnt a lot, liked that I walked to work, loved my team, hated my peer, the hours were fixed, the pay was not quite enough (shocked to see my ‘needs’ were greater than I imagined) but ultimately I wasn’t going anywhere there). Now I’m back at a utility, like the first 9 years of my career. Back to 7am starts (which mean strict bedtimes, and feeling ‘boring’ to my bf or friends). Back to casual PPE/uniform vs stockings and suit jackets at the funeral home, but I miss self expression of my own corporate clothes. I miss the start/finish time of office jobs. I miss (currently) exercising at all in the morning, and cannot fathom waking any earlier. I’m tired of being tired, I’m tired of surviving (this is a common theme of new job-itis, being in max saturation of info mode, and finding it hard to have enough energy beyond the working day). Anyhow… It’s good to be working, earning a better salary, doing what I know I can do. My unemployment was spent wondering what I wanted in life, and let’s say, I’m still not entirely sure, but I sure as heck gave some things a try, so I won’t die wondering!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      That’s awesome – so many people end up stuck in an endless cycle because they’re too scared to experiment. Good on you!

  5. Debbi 4 years ago

    The timing of this article is perfect. As a contracted Sports and Remedial massage therapist I was out of work for 2 months during the lockdown and getting back to work has been frustrating and slow. The business I have worked for for the last 10 years is using the time to restructure the business so I may never have the same hours as before.
    I enjoy what I do but it’s a 50min commute outside of peak hour. If I get stuck travelling at peak hour it could be 1.5 hours. I hate the commute.
    I am currently thinking how I can restructure my own business to suit me more than others but it’s a long process.
    I was wondering though how you went about transitioning from teacher to freelance? And did you you begin freelance while still teaching?

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 4 years ago

      The transition was really slow – it took about 6 years to feel comfortable enough to quit teaching to freelance full-time. I’m very cautious though and I’m terrible at selling myself so a braver bolder person could do it in half the time I reckon!


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