5 Questions To Ask Yourself If You’re Not Where You Thought You’d Be


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~Rumi

When I left high school, I had no idea about what I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I still had no idea when I left university. There wasn’t anything in me that really burned to be a doctor, a translator, a lawyer, or an artist, for example.

I was a bit of an all-arounder and wasn’t really 100 percent focused in any one direction. I always thought this was the curse of completing an arts degree (namely French), where in many cases you can go in any direction you choose, but what if you have no idea?

I think what I was always quite sure of is the feeling this unknown career would instill in me.

I remember speaking to a career counsellor and saying something about wanting to be a powerful woman who wears suits, has some kind of semi-important title, and spends a lot of their time getting the train between Paris and London for business meetings.

As soon as I said it, though, I felt hollow and instinctively knew that that wasn’t me. This is what all my friends were signing up for, and I was torn.

Do I follow what I’m expected to do and go for the lifestyle, or do I dive back into the crumbling well of not knowing what I’m doing with my life?

After a lot of soul searching, I decided to move into high school teaching. I could still be involved in all things French, have some kind of semi-prestigious role, and make a difference. (The suit was optional, though).

That “business woman” feeling I’d wanted translated quite well into teaching. I felt wanted, important, needed, useful, and creative, like a fountain of knowledge creating an impact where it mattered. But something was still missing.

After feeling empty, fed up, and like I was sacrificing my well-being at the expense of my career/search for a particular feeling, I knew I still wasn’t in the right place.

I then went through a few years of relentlessly comparing myself to others and where there got to in life. My friends at university seemed to be settling into jobs that were made for them. They were making good money and climbing the ladder.

Why couldn’t I do this? Why didn’t I want to do this? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. What the hell was wrong with me?

The last few years after moving from the UK to Australia have marked something of a transition for me. I feel that there was a reason I was meant to move to the other side of the world: I came here to follow my own path.

I was meant to come to Australia to stop comparing myself to my university friends, to stop feeling that I’d let me parents down, and to be really secure in myself and not myself in the eyes of others.

Away from this, I became incredibly interested in holistic health and nutrition, spirituality, healing, and meditation—a far cry from the powered up business woman ideal I was originally aiming for.

I am in no way where I thought I’d be when I school.

I’m pretty sure that if I told people what I was doing now (writing and training to be a healer), they’d be quite surprised. Trust me—no one is more surprised than me. But I absolutely love what I’m doing and I’m so passionate about it. I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve found my “thing.”

If you’re nodding your head furiously at anything I’ve written and feel like you’re not where you thought you would be, I invite you to think about the following questions.

1. Is it really as bad as it appears to be?

Okay, you might not have the salary, but is your job progressing the way you want it to? Do you have steady income? Do you like your colleagues?

If you really drill down into “dream” jobs, there’s always something people don’t particularly like doing, but generally it’s okay. They don’t call them “jobs” for nothing!

2. Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?

Whether you’re recovering from an illness or setting up your own business, it can be terrifying and can often feel like you’re never going to get there. Remember to give yourself a break and be kind to yourself.

Take time to step back and look at what you’ve achieved so far. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth taking time over and really pacing yourself. A bit of patience and a sprinkle of hope, and you’ll get there.

3. Whose expectations are you fighting with—yours or someone else’s?

I suddenly realized, after years of comparing myself to other people, that I was doing myself a huge injustice by making myself feel inferior to others.

As much as I wanted to blame society, the government, or my parents for not being where I wanted to be in life, I realized the expectations I’d placed on myself were incredible.

Even if I were as perfect as I’d envisioned, I still wouldn’t be happy. The same goes for expectations laid down on you by other people—they’ll never be happy with where you are either.

That’s when I realized I had to let it all go. These herculean expectations were energy zapping and weighing me down, so I released them.

4. What can you learn from the situation?

Everything happens for a reason. Are you underselling yourself at work? Are you spending time on things that really light you up?

The big lesson for me was learning to be myself and be okay with that. I learned that my talents and skills are unique and that at the end of the day, people want and remember you for you, not for your job.

5. Is there anything you could do today to move you closer to your ideal life?

Once I thought about all the time I’d wasted wishing I was higher up the ladder, more glamorous, or more athletic, I wanted to do something right away that would make me feel like I was moving the right direction for me.

If you’re constantly berating yourself for your fitness, go to the gym. Want to eat healthier food? Cook healthier food. It’s simple. Often, we sabotage ourselves as an avoidance tactic. Nobody can do it for you but you.

There’s no time like the present. Your dream and goals are just waiting for you to run toward them with open arms. All you have to do is say yes.

Photo by mrhayata

About Katie Manning

Katie Manning is a coach, writer and speaker whose blog, Conquering Fear Spiritually - CFS, inspires and supports people with M.E or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After having CFS for 10 years, Katie has completely cured herself of the illness and is now inspiring others to do the same.

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  • Hi Kathie,
    I think most people (barring a handful of extraordinary ones) do not have any idea of what they want to be when they leave high-school. Most follow the herd mentality and do what others (friends, society) tell them to do. And after having done that, again they become goal less and frustrated. The suggestions you have given are really good. Nothing is as bad as it appears to be. If we take the initiative, fix a worthwhile goal and move ahead, it is achievable. Thanks for sharing

  • msbrightside

    Hi katie,
    I came across with your article just the time i needed most. I’m doing an internship which I decided I don’t want a job like this and Im in a confusion about what I have to do to find what I really want, I have talents on arts but I dont have much creativity and not enough passion to be an artist, Im good at economics but İf I get an office job like my internship I will definetly feel Im in the wrong way and Im wasting my life. You wrote about soul searching which I absolutely do too but don’t know actually how to make it. Can you tell me something more about this soul searching?

  • Hi Katie ~

    Thank you for this. Like you, I’ve come a very long
    way unconventionally in a short time. I look back on my life as I’m writing my
    book and I realize, I am nowhere near where I thought I would be 20 years ago.

    Comparison does seem to
    strike a chord of fear and paralysis in us, doesn’t it? I have no education, no credentials, no degree. I used to work very hard to make up for that fact, but in reality, a lack of credentials has never stopped me from being a polymath and succeeding in fields that I enjoyed at high levels. I’ve been in over nine industries as a consultant and strategist. I was highly sought after until I shut it down for health reasons. It took about 3 years to get my health back on track.

    It wasn’t until just the past few years when I decided I wanted to write and change women’s lives that I realized how limiting a lack of credentials “might” be. As I read this post and reflect on it, I realize just how far I have come, that my life is the only credential needed.

    We have had so many amazing journeys, those of us who take unconventional routes. We have to remind ourselves that our unusual life journeys often have a depth and richness to them that gives us the gift of wealth in wisdom that others may not always receive.

    Honestly, in spite of all the bumps in the road, I would not change where I am for anything in the world. My dreams have evolved dramatically, but I’m now more committed to them than ever before. Thank you for this gentle reminder!

  • Robin Janet Kilburn

    for most of my life I walked around in a rage, because I knew my life was no where near what I wanted, I had no idea how to change it or leave it, or do any thing. I went around and around in circles for many years, The first awaking I had was when I realised that circumstances were what they were. If anyone was going to rescue me, it would have to be me..
    I made huge and small mistakes, and they were all learning lessons. I made choices that were beyond my abilities, but never the less succeeded in most .Today I am over 70 and looking back I don’t think I would change most of my life.. The lessons I received were gifts, the challenges I overcame were my wonderful self confidence I now have.
    I never desired to be rich or famous, just to be the best person I could be every day. Some days it isn’t there, but every day is a reason for gratitude and life.
    Thank you for your lovely post

  • Leah

    I’m 23 and a recent college graduate, but I’ve been unemployed for the past 2 months. It’s becoming extremely frustrating that a lot of employers aren’t even responding to me, but I’m trying to take the time to make new friends and improve my health. Definitely trying to follow #4 and 5 while also continuing to think about what I want to do for a career!

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hey Leah- it’s so great that you’re using this time to improve your health and enjoy life, that’s what it’s there for. I hope the right job finds you soon. Thanks for reading the article my darling!

    Katie xx

  • Alexander


    Thank you for this lovely article and the thought provoking questions.

    I graduated from university last December and had a job lined up in the finance sector, which would begin shortly afterwards in January. I decided to push back the start date until the 1st of July and do a bit of reflecting. After working some temp jobs to save up some money, I travelled to Northern Thailand where I resided at a Foundation that permitted me to strengthen my yoga and meditation practice while delving deep into my heart. A lot of what I discovered there has made me realize the direction I want my life, as well as my career, to take me – down a path of mindfulness.

    This job is definitely not within that realm and I had been spending a great deal of energy (most of the time unaware) pushing away what my heart was crying out for, listening to the should’s and should nots (question #3).

    The questions that you wrote (i.e. #4) are definitely ones that I have been trying to keep in mind with my situation. Thank you for writing this timely article 🙂


  • Guncha

    WOW, what an inspiring read Katie. I relate to your journey so incredibly close to mine. I had no clue what I wanted to be, I too moved to other side of world and I am conquering my fear spiritually. Wish you all the success.

  • Guncha

    This is truly inspiring, wish you all the success, Katie.

  • Angela Lam Turpin

    Yes, it is harder to follow our own path the path we’re expected to take, whether it be from peer pressure, societal pressure, familial pressure, or the pressure we place on ourselves to be somehow the “best” at whatever it is we’ve chosen to do. Sometimes our path is simply to “be” and the best part follows. Thanks for reminding us we need not judge ourselves by fame, fortune, or fickleness.

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Thank you so much Guncha- wishing you all the best for your journey.

    Warmest wishes,

  • RDP

    This is exactly what I’m going through right now =(

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hi msbrightside!

    Thank you so, so much for your comments- it sounds like a bit of a confusing time for you right now. I suggest writing down your feelings and really trying to tune in with what you want your life to look like. Is there anything you can learn from your internship that might be useful in your future life? Can you transfer these skills? (You’d be surprised!) Nothing is ever a waste of time.

    Please don’t hesitate to check out my website for more tips. Wishing you all the best for your big and beautiful future!

    Katie xx

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Robin, you are an absolute joy and an inspiration to all of us. As you say, mistakes aren’t really bad things because we can always learn something from them.

    “Every day is a reason for gratitude and life.”- it certainly is. Thank you my darling!

    Katie xx

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hi Braja- your words are so inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing- so glad you enjoyed my article!

    Katie xx

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hi RDP- thank you so much for reading my article. You’re a lot stronger than you think- listen to what that little voice is telling you.

    Thank you again,

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hi Angela- thank you so much for reading my article.

    I love your words, “Sometimes our path is simply to “be” and the best part follows”- beautiful!

    Thanks again,

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Hi Alexander- thank you so much for your beautiful words. It definitely sounds like your journey to Thailand came at the right time for you and that you heart is telling you which direction to take. Maybe seeing your job as being of service might help you find your way through everything in the meantime.

    Thank you again, Alexander- best of luck.

    Warmest wishes,

  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Thank you so much Guncha!


  • Katie – Conq Fear Spiritually

    Wow Isis- thank you so, so much for your beautiful words and for sharing your journey with us. Indeed, lots of people who chose the unconventional route have amazing stories to tell and experiences in their journeys. Sometimes we also have to remember to pause and give ourselves a pat on the back for all that we’ve accomplished before moving forward- this is something I’m working on myself!

    Thank you again Isis!


  • smshngthnku

    my darling kate, your words may well have fallen from my mouth. chronic migraine has disabled me, forced my former life to a screeching halt, and to seek deep inside – both for the strength to continue fighting to be well, and to figure out who i am when i am stripped of everything i’ve ever been.
    Your words are inspiring. can’t wait to check out your blog.