Whether you’re just starting your journey into the work force or facing second thoughts about the career you’ve already established, “what should I do with my life?” is perhaps one of the most anxiety-producing questions you could ask yourself. But it’s necessary to ask this question and then revisit it from time to time throughout your life. Whether you’re a recent college graduate weighing your options or a mid-career executive wondering if you’re happy doing what you’re doing, the ramifications of the question are just as important — and a little soul-searching can help you to make the best choice.

So how do you figure out what you should be doing?

Go Back to the Basics

What did you want to be growing up? You probably realized long ago that a career as a “space cowboy” isn’t feasible. But maybe some of your other dreams are. Did you want to be an artist? A scientist? A cook? Start there. It might not be as direct as that—but maybe your childhood dream can give you the insight you need to get started.

Think About What You Want for Your Day-to-Day Life

We spend so much time at work. Someone averaging 40 hours a week at work will spend over 90,000 hours in their lifetime on the job. So shouldn’t it be an enjoyable experience? Or at least not a terrible one. The common belief that most people hate their jobs unfortunately has a grain of truth in it. According to a Gallup study done earlier this year, 51 percent of American employees aren’t engaged at work—meaning they don’t feel a connection to their work—and, as a result, are only doing the bare minimum. Another 16 percent are “actively disengaged”—meaning they are unhappy at work, resent their jobs and tend to complain about their jobs to others in and outside of the workplace.

What kind of environment do you want to be in? in a cubicle? Traditional office? A loft? Or outside?

Do traditional roles bore you? Is excitement worth the risk to you? Maybe you should pursue your childhood dream of being a firefighter after all. Or maybe not. But it’s something to take into consideration. The big question is: How do you want to spend those 90,000 hours?

Be Realistic

Our dream jobs aren’t always do-able. But if yours isn’t realistic, you can still get close. Maybe you don’t have the education, skills or resources you need for the position you’ve been dreaming about. But do your research and you’ll find related job opportunities—or maybe something that’s an even better fit.

Accept Help

It’s not always easy to pursue your dream career. Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you, not bring you down. And don’t be afraid to reach out to a career counselor for some help figuring it all out.

Now that you know what you want to do, go for it!

Don’t be one of the 51 percent of people who aren’t engaged at work—after you find out what you love to do, do it! It may seem like a lot of work—especially if you’ve already established yourself in another field—but it’s worth it.

If you need help finding a job or advancing in your career, reach out to the experts at TalentBridge today!