On top of that, every type of education is designed to help you get a job and prepare you for professional life. Everything is focused on work.

However, hardly anything or anyone is helping you define what type of life you want to live.

In my upbringing, no one asked me about how I would like my life to look like in the future — what experiences I want to have, how much freedom I want, how much time I’d like to have for friends and family, or how many adventures I’d like to undertake.

Neither did any of my studies ever spark anything regarding living life — it was all focused on work and career.

Pick a career path that suits your desired lifestyle

Because we’ve been so conditioned to focus on work and career, most of us even forget to ask ourselves how we would want to live life. We overly focus on the one question society has conditioned us to ask, ‘what job or career do I want to have?’

I believe this is the wrong starting point.

Life is not about work; life is about living the way that makes you the happiest. Work is definitely a part of this equation, but it’s not the entire formula. Work serves to facilitate the type of life you want to live — not the other way around.

I believe the starting point should be defining how you want your life to look like. Then, you pick a career path that suits this type of lifestyle — not the other way around.

This approach focuses more on who you are as a person and what makes you happy, not on the type of work you think you should be doing.

How to define the life you want to live

I understand it might not necessarily be easy to define the type of life you want to live. To help you make this process easier, I’d propose a few things.

First of all, don’t make it too big. You don’t have to know precisely how you want the rest of your life to look like.

However, you can likely make a good estimate of the things you don’t like and the things that have made you the happiest so far in life. This is already an excellent starting point — a starting point most people neglect.

I knew from a young age that independence makes me very happy. When I can pursue my own ideas exactly how I want to, according to my own schedule, I’m happy. Very happy. The moment I lose some of this autonomy, I get more frustrated. This was a big sign that pushed me towards starting my own business — even though I don’t consider myself a ‘natural’ entrepreneur.

Second of all, take some time to recall specific moments in life where you were your happiest and unhappiest — especially when it comes to everyday stuff.

What type of work can facilitate doing more of the things that made you the happiest?

And what type of work minimizes those things that stressed you out in the past?

Last of all, ask yourself the right type of questions about how you want to live life. Here are a few questions I’d suggest:

  • Does taking risks excite me, or do I value stability more?
  • Am I happier working with others or just by myself?
  • What is the minimum free time I’d need each year to do the things (outside of work) that make me the happiest and most fulfilled?
  • How much money do I need per year (realistically) to do the things that excite me the most?
  • What adventures do I want to experience within the next five years?
  • How much freedom and autonomy do I want in my life?

These questions help you define how you want your life to look like. From this point, you can focus on choosing a career path that suits your desired lifestyle. It might not be easy, and it might not be the way society tells us how it should go, but I believe it makes for a much happier and more fulfilled life and career.

Now do it

Society has conditioned us to focus primarily on work and career — and hard on how we want to live our lives.

Personally, however, I believe the starting point should be to define how you want your life to look like. Then, you pick a career path that suits this type of lifestyle — not the other way around.