Weekend Reading: How to Figure Out What You Want Out of Life

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
Weekend reading what you want in life Weekend reading what you want in life
Weekend Reading

In a society where school, marriage, homeownership, children and career success tend to be seen as the only available paths of your future, it can cause you to lose sight of what might make you the most fulfilled.


The status quo: It’s easy to live life on autopilot. You check off the right boxes, reach milestones and follow similar paths to those around you. We’re all told from a young age a list of “shoulds” we need to reach for: You should go to college, get married, buy a nice house, become the boss etc. These areas are often tied to wealth, but during times when you find yourself on the road less traveled (whether purposefully or not), it can prompt you to question: What do I really want out of life? Am I living it authentically?

Check in with yourself: To answer these questions, you must look internally and identify the root of your motivations. Are the things you’re pursuing pressured by those around you, or are they self-motivated (intrinsic)? Most often, things you’re intrinsically motivated to do are authentic. One way to determine if a path you’re pursuing is something you really want is by simply asking yourself: Am I running away from it or toward it? And additionally, question WHY you’re doing something. Is it for the validation of others or because you genuinely feel it will bring you fulfillment?

Consider your values: “What do I enjoy about life?” is a big question to answer. To simplify it, think about your natural passions and skills, as well as what easily excites you. Beyond this, lie your values, which are the things you often weigh decisions against. All of these components can help you identify if any milestones or major life choices are truly desirable to you.

Slow down: It’s important to take pause throughout our lives and reflect on the “why” behind our actions. Otherwise, we could easily end up somewhere we didn’t really want to be in the first place.