A Step-by-Step Guide to Discovering What You Truly Want in Life

How often do we create the time to find out what we want in life, and what would make us truly happy?

Matt By Matt
17 Min Read

Gaining a clear understanding of your current position in life is crucial for helping you identify what you truly desire and determining the path you need to take to reach your goals.

Imagining yourself lost in a forest can be a metaphor for feeling directionless in life. To navigate safely forward this simple process will help:

  1. Establish your destination.
  2. Ascertain your current location.
  3. Carve out a route that takes you from where you are today, to where you wish to be.

Embarking on this journey of self-assessment, it will be more positive and enjoyable if you can approach life’s challenges as an adventure, exploring various aspects without being overwhelmed by the scale of the questions you’re answering.

Start by exploring and documenting your guiding principles.

Then, evaluate your professional life and identify what’s going well and what isn’t. This simple exercise can bring much-needed clarity.

Then, reflecting upon personal aspects such as your health, relationships, and overall happiness can offer deeper insight and understanding into your current life situation.

Key Takeaways

  • Establishing clear life goals helps navigate your life’s direction like finding a path in a forest.
  • Regular self-reflection, particularly in your professional life, can lead to greater clarity and job satisfaction.
  • Exercises like the Wheel of Life can reveal areas in your personal life that may require focus and improvement.

1. Wheel of Life Exercise

Utilising tools like the Wheel of Life exercise will allow you to rate different areas of your life on a scale, which can help pinpoint specific domains needing attention and improvement.

This structured reflection fosters a deeper understanding of your wants and the steps needed to achieve satisfaction in various life dimensions.

Wheel of Life Ratings

  • Health (Body, Mind, Soul): Rate your satisfaction from 0 to 10.
  • Relationships (Romance, Family, Friends): Evaluate closeness and contentment in each area.
  • Work (Mission, Money, Growth): Assess fulfilment and progress towards career goals.
  • Joy: Determine the level of happiness and contentment in your day-to-day life.

By consciously rating these aspects, you pinpoint areas for improvement and focus on the steps necessary to move forward.

2. Understand where are you right now

Think about your current personal and professional life and consider what aspects are beneficial and which are not.

For example, as a shop assistant, you might find joy in practical tasks and customer interaction, yet feel a sense of dread with the anticipation of a new work week.

Understanding where you are in life can provide clarity and direction. Here are five steps to help you assess your current situation:

  1. Reflect on Your Values and Goals: Take some time to think about what matters most to you. What are your core values? What goals have you set for yourself? Are your current actions aligned with these values and objectives?
  2. Evaluate Your Relationships: Consider the state of your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Are these relationships healthy and supportive, or do they need attention?
  3. Assess Your Career Satisfaction: Look at your job or career path. Does your work fulfil you? Are you progressing towards where you want to be professionally?
  4. Review Your Personal Growth: Think about the last time you learned something new or challenged yourself. Personal development is a key indicator of where you stand in life.
  5. Take Stock of Your Mental and Physical Health: Your well-being is crucial. Are you taking care of your body and mind? Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and time for self-care are important factors to consider.

It is vital to know your present situation to attain a clear understanding of what you want and your desired direction in life. In a metaphorical forest, to find your direction, you’d first need to be aware of your current position. This knowledge is crucial before plotting a path to your goals.

Remember, small steps in these areas can lead to the progress you seek.

3. Identify Your Guiding Principle

Ask yourself what your main aspiration is for your life – the single big vision that matters to you the most —your guiding principle, your ‘North Star.’


Think about where you are now, and the direction your personal journey is currently heading by examining life’s primary areas:

  • personal health
  • relationships
  • job satisfaction
  • wealth

Assess the alignment, or disconnect, between your current state and future aspirations across these categories with the Wheel of Life tool.

4. Examine Your Career

Examining your career allows you to identify the aspects of your job that bring you joy and fulfilment, highlighting the tasks or roles that resonate with your passions and strengths. It also sheds light on areas that may be causing dissatisfaction or stagnation, helping you to understand what changes could lead to a more rewarding professional life.

Positive Aspects

  • Engagement: I find assisting customers and clients rewarding.
  • Autonomy: The ability to work with clients and customers independently is satisfying.
  • Work-Life Balance: Finishing work at a fixed time each day is good for me and my other commitments.
  • Commute: I enjoy my commute when I can spend time listening to audiobooks, Spotify or other creative tasks.

Areas for Improvement

  • Job Fulfilment: I feel anxious thinking about work over the weekend, made clear weekly by the ‘Sunday night dread’.
  • Travel Time: The hour-long journey each way to the workplace is a time-consuming part of my day. This equates to two hours every day, or fourteen hours per week.
  • Workplace Relationships: Collaborations with certain colleagues are less than great, with at least one troublesome relationship brewing.
  • Career Direction: Uncertainty surrounding your long-term career development leaves me feeling directionless.
  • Agency: There’s a sense that managers are dictating the direction of your life, rather than having control over it yourself.

5. Assessing Your Personal Life

Take time to reflect on the various aspects of your existence. Think about different facets such as your overall state of well-being, your relationships with family and friends, romantic connections, economic standing, professional life, environment, and the factors that bring you joy and happiness.


Examine the current state of your physical fitness, mental health and inner peace. Assess how frequently you exercise, the quality of your diet, your stress levels and your overall contentment with your health.

Friends and Family

Evaluate the quality of your relationships with friends and family. Are these interactions supportive and fulfilling? Do you feel connected and valued within your social circles? Do your friends have your back? What do you feel is missing?

Romance and Intimacy

Consider how satisfied you are in your romantic life. Whether single or in a partnership, reflect on the level of joy and contentment in your connections with significant others.

Economic Health

Review your financial status. Can you manage expenses comfortably, save money, and feel secure in your financial future? Do you have any unnecessary loans? Are your incomings greater than your outgoings?

Living Conditions

Contemplate the environment you reside in. Is your home a place of peace and sanctuary for you? Does your local community feel safe and welcoming? Is your home in a good state of repair?

Sources of Joy

Consciously think about what genuinely brings you joy. It may be hobbies, activities, food, going out or simple pleasures. Recognise what they are – are they part of your regular routine?.

6. Define your goals

To help identify your goals, you can employ the following five techniques:

  1. Visualization: Imagine your ideal future in detail, including where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re with. This can help clarify what you truly want.
  2. Journaling: Write down your thoughts, aspirations, and where you see yourself in the future. Reflecting on these entries can reveal consistent themes and desires towards your goals.
  3. Mind Mapping: Create a visual representation of your thoughts and ideas. Start with a central concept and branch out to include all aspects of your life, which can help you see how different areas connect and what goals emerge.
  4. SWOT Analysis: Assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats about your aspirations. This can help you identify realistic goals that play to your strengths and opportunities.
  5. The Five Whys: Ask yourself why you want to achieve a certain state or objective, then ask “why” again for the answer you’ve given, and so on for five iterations. This technique digs deeper into your motivations and can uncover true goals.

7. Create your action plan

Once you’ve gained clarity on your current situation through the Wheel of Life and other self-assessment tools, here are eleven actionable steps to bridge the gap between your present and your desired future:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that reflect where you want to be in each area of your life.
  2. Get an accountability partner: someone dependable who coaches and supports you in staying committed to your goals and making consistent progress. They hold you accountable to what you said you were going to do.
  3. Create a Roadmap: Break down your goals into smaller, manageable milestones. Lay out a step-by-step plan that outlines what needs to be accomplished to reach each milestone.
  4. Prioritize Your Actions: Determine which steps are most critical to your progress and prioritize them. Focus on actions that will have the greatest impact on your goals.
  5. Allocate Resources: Assess what resources (time, money, skills, etc.) you need to achieve your goals and plan how to acquire them.
  6. Develop New Skills: Identify any skills gaps that may be hindering your progress and seek out opportunities for learning and development.
  7. Build a Support System: Surround yourself with mentors, peers, and a network that will support and encourage you on your journey.
  8. Implement Time Management: Use time management techniques to ensure you’re dedicating sufficient time to work towards your goals without neglecting other life areas.
  9. Monitor Your Progress: Regularly review your goals and the progress you’ve made. Adjust your plan as necessary to stay on track.
  10. Stay Flexible: Be prepared to adapt your plans in response to life’s changes or unexpected opportunities that align with your long-term vision.
  11. Practice Self-Care: Maintain a balance that allows for rest and rejuvenation. Managing stress and ensuring your well-being are crucial for sustained effort towards your goals.

By following these steps, you’ll more actively move from your current state towards a future that aligns with your aspirations and desired life balance.

Leave a comment or get in touch if you’d like help on any of the points raised in this article .

Good luck!


Here are ten popular and inspirational books that focus on creating an abundant life, including the example you provided:

  1. The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss
  2. Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
  3. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
  4. Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki
  5. The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle
  6. You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth” by Jen Sincero
  7. The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz
  8. The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne
  9. Atomic Habits” by James Clear
  10. Awaken the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins

These books offer various perspectives and strategies on personal development, financial freedom, productivity, and the law of attraction, all aimed at helping readers cultivate a life of abundance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Planning our life plan is perhaps one of the biggest topics we’ll ever tackle in our lifetime. Below are several common questions about creating a life plan.

How can I start to discover who I really am?

Begin by reflecting on your passions, values, and experiences. Ask yourself what brings you joy, what principles guide your decisions, and which moments have shaped you. Consider taking personality tests and seeking feedback from close friends or family to gain different perspectives.

What techniques can help me find inspiration in my life?

Finding inspiration often involves stepping out of your routine. Try new activities, travel, read broadly, or engage with diverse groups of people. Also, look inward through meditation or journaling to uncover what naturally motivates and excites you.

What is the first step in creating a life plan?

The first step is to define a clear vision for your future. Visualize where you want to be in different areas of your life, including career, personal growth, and relationships. Write down your long-term goals and the values that are important to you.

How can I ensure that my life plan is aligned with my true self?

Regular self-reflection is key. Revisit your goals and plans periodically to ensure they still resonate with your evolving self. Stay open to adjusting your plan as you learn more about your desires, strengths, and the opportunities that come your way.

What should I do if I feel stuck or lost while trying to figure out my life plan?

It’s normal to feel stuck at times. When this happens, seek new experiences or education to broaden your horizons. Consider working with a coach or mentor who can offer guidance and a fresh perspective. Remember, it’s a journey, and each step, even the uncertain ones, is part of the process of self-discovery.

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By Matt
I'm the Creative Director at Bona Parle. I'm also a freelance portrait and headshot photographer, award-winning filmmaker, film Colourist and a multi-award winning LGBTQ+ human rights campaigner. For part of my week I lead a successful UK-based charity that brings families closer to together.