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What to do if you feel lost or directionless

Dear Desirée: In this week’s column a reader asks, what to do if you don't have any dreams or desires any more? If you've lost yourself to a job or a role, like mom and wife, can you find your way back or is it too late?

A beautiful woman closes her eyes and lets the sunlight fall on her with the caption "Finding your direction again" emblazoned over the photo

Dear Desirée,

Help! I don't know what I want anymore. I know you suggest finding a goal I really love, a big desire. But what if I have don’t have a clue what I even love anymore? I’ve spent decades just working a job, being a wife and mother.

For years fun and desire just hasn’t entered the equation. It's been all about the kids and just keep my head above water. But now the kids have been gone for years and still I don’t know what might be fun or exciting anymore.

I'm wracking my brain for what would be fun or what I desire and I get... nothing. Help, what do I do? Is it hopeless?

Am I just too old or too dried up to dream anymore?

—Directionless in Denver

Dear Denver,

Let’s get this one thing settled right away, so you can breathe again. No. You’re not too old, or too dried up as a mom or woman. And, you are not alone. Many women have experienced exactly what you are describing. So, relax. You’re in good company.

It’s also not hopeless. BUT, it is going take some time, and that’s ok. I know you’re in a rush to get started on the next new thing and on creating a new life for yourself, but trust me, you have time.

Now, about how to handle this…

First: Let it go for awhile.

You’ve asked the question: What do I want? What do I desire? That’s the true first step here, but now, release the tension and all of your focus on the question part of the equation. Take your attention away from it for awhile.

Your subconscious has all your answers. Sometimes it just takes time to let them bubble up to the surface. It’s the old maxim about praying versus meditation. When we pray we’re asking questions, putting our desires out into the world. Which is beautiful. But when we meditate we’re open to receiving the answers. It’s a totally different energy.

So open up the journal and write out the question in the mornings, but don’t expect an answer. Ask and let it go.

Instead, go for a walk. Do the dishes or the laundry. Do yoga, get ready for work, do the chores. Your desires will eventually bubble up, usually at the most surprising times. I’m amazed how many times I get a great idea on a walk or even in the shower or while folding laundry, when I’m not even paying attention.

Second: Be Gentle.

Let it be ok to not know for awhile. Let’s not beat ourselves up for something very human, like not knowing. Sometimes our subconscious have a very good reason for not letting our dreams and desires bubble up. Sometimes we have traumas we don’t remember clearly.

A trusted adult, for instance, may have once told us our dreams weren’t possible for us long ago when we, as a child, confided in them, and we took it to heart. Sometimes we’ve been so cruel and harsh to ourselves, judging and shaming ourselves for wanting things, it just doesn’t feel safe to our subconscious to reveal them even to ourselves.

And sometimes, we are literally in the midst of grief, sadness and present life trauma. Someone has died or something has changed dramatically, and in order to stave off grief we often numb out completely. We don’t feel sad, but we also don’t feel in touch with our joy either.

You don’t have to know exactly why your subconscious isn't immediately releasing all the information about your desires and passions, you just have to realize there might be a really good reason why. It doesn’t yet feel safe.

It’s your job to make it feel safe. Be gentle. Go slowly. Let it take time. Don’t pressure yourself. Relax into not knowing, with the faith that eventually you will.

Last: Look for the bread crumbs.

As you go about your day, little tiny sparks of joy, that don’t look like a grand passion (or even joy) may bubble up. Some odd little thing may pique interest. Don’t ignore the small things. Like curiosity. Or being intrigued by something.

You may be on a walk and think, "I wonder what kind of bird that is?" Or you maybe at a stoplight and suddenly flash on: "I wonder what it’s like to throw a pot on a wheel?" Perhaps on the way to the cleaners you spot a yarn shop and are suddenly struck by what could be inside...

You don’t need a roaring passion to get you started on the path. Look for low hanging fruit, like mild interest, or mere curiosity.

Because the truth is, passion, interest, curiosity.,…. They all come from the same tree.

And taking any action, even tiny little ones on your interest or curiosity, will give you more information than waiting for your grand passion, or the big love affair of desire and purpose to come to you.

So explore all the tiny little interests that surface without any pressure to make them be more or mean more. Decide to find out what kind of bird that was in the park. Let it lead you to researching bird markets in Paris. Or maybe the world of bird migration.

Explore a pottery throwing class. Let yourself be ok with realizing three classes in that pottery just isn’t for you, but that you love the look of it. The warm glazed colors.

Maybe you’ll begin to wonder if you should re-do your bedroom in those colors, or maybe the living room… Perhaps you’ll discover a love for interior design, or maybe not, maybe the adventure will keep going.

Consider making that your commitment for this year. To let yourself simply explore all your little curiosities and to find out more about what you do and what you don’t like. Make a commitment to give each little thing that sparks any interest your full attention, and explore it freely, even if it only lasts for a minute.

That’s a great way, not only to find out what you love, and stoke the fire and passion, but also to let yourself find out it’s now safe for you to come out and play with those desires. You can be trusted to let yourself in on the secret of what you love. You're safe to play with.

Which in my book, is a win - win.


Hello there reader,

I hope that helped you to figure out how to find the fun, the passion and the play even more in your life.

And if you'd like more help? I'm here for it! Ready to gently find your next grand goal and desire? Would you love some accountability and some gentle insight from someone a lot like you? Then, what are you waiting for? Let's chat!

I am a life coach for women ready to find the fun, to wake up their ordinary days, and maybe even discover their next grand passion.

Photo of Desiree Sommer, the author and life coach

Does that sound good? Then book here for your absolutely FREE consult! It’s a fun way to get clarity, chat about what’s going on, and see what life coaching is all about!


With that, I’m off! I will see you all next weeK! Hooray!

Can’t get enough? Need more? I like you’re style! Here are some other articles you might enjoy:

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