How To Work Out What You Want In Life

Karen Banes

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

As my regular readers know, I’m trying really hard to do less, but better. But working out what you want to do better at is hard. You need to work out exactly what you want in life, and as I’ve discussed before, your brain can play some pretty damaging tricks on you in this area.

So you have to dig deep and get really honest with yourself. It can help to look at five key areas of life, often referred to as the five F’s. There are a few variations on this concept, with the most common five F’s being faith, family, friends, fitness and finance, but I’ve adapted them to something that’s a better fit for me:

  • Family & Friends
  • Finance
  • Fitness
  • Fulfilment
  • Fun

I’ve replaced faith with fulfilment, because that includes spiritual fulfilment, but isn’t tied to religion per se. That makes it a little more relevant to me, as a recovering Roman Catholic who’s no longer involved in organised religion or part of an actual faith-based community. I’m fine with having family and friends under the same umbrella. Some people don’t have fun on there at all, which is a big mistake, as far as I’m concerned. You only get one life. If you don’t plan for fun, it’s shockingly easy to forget to have it.

You’ll notice work isn’t on the list, even though it’s a big area of life for most people. That’s because generally your paid work fits under finance, and your volunteer work fits under fulfilment. But if you want to add it in you can. It’s your list. You can have a W-word in among your F-words, if that works for you.

Once you have your (potentially modified) F-words, it’s time to think about what you really want, in each area. I suggest you mind map it as you go along. Or journal it, or vision board it, or just list it out. But try to create a physical representation of what you actually want out of life. It will help you stay focused on it as you go forward.

Family and Friends

By lumping these together, we kind of change it from an f-word to an r-word: relationships. I wrote recently about how ill-managed relationships can be a source of regret in old age, so focusing on what you want to do better in your relationships with immediate family, extended family, friends, lovers, colleagues and other people in your life, is probably wise.

In deciding what you want to do better with here, you’re looking at things like improving your marriage or other significant relationship, practising joyful, gentle, positive parenting, making more like-minded friends, or re-bonding with old friends you’ve fallen out of touch with.


Whether we like it or not, our finances play a huge role in our lives and impact our emotions. As I’ve touched on before, having money doesn’t make you happy, but having money troubles sure makes you sad.

In deciding what you want to do better with here, you’re looking at things like reducing debt, increasing income, spending more mindfully, and setting meaningful financial goals. If you work for yourself, you may be looking at tweaking your business model to better fit your talents and meet your financial goals, or generating passive income for long-term flexibility and freedom. You’ll also want to look at how much you want to give away, and how to do it in a way that supports the things that really matter to you.


This isn’t just about working out harder, running faster, or lifting heavier weights, though all of those things may be something you want to do better. Fitness includes physical, emotional and mental health.

In deciding what you want to do better with here, you’re looking at things like nutrition, exercise, regular health checks, monitoring current health conditions, preventative strategies, meditation, stress management, therapy, and anything else that impacts your wellbeing in any way.


This might spill over into other areas, like family and finances, as most of us get some of our fulfilment from things like parenting and work. But fulfilment can also come from achievement, giving back, faith, and spiritual practices.

In deciding what you want to do better with here, you’re looking at things like learning new skills, practicing existing talents, personal growth, self-care, volunteering for a cause you love, raising kids you can be proud of, or caring for others.


Seemingly the most frivolous F-word, we all deserve to have fun, and sometimes, if you don’t plan for fun, it simply doesn’t happen. So it’s OK to both want to have fun, and create a vision for your life that involves it happening regularly.

In deciding what you want to do better with here, you’re looking at things like hobbies, sports, adventures, travel, and any activity you do because you absolutely love it. And yes, it’s fine if it crosses over with other areas. It most likely will, especially family, friends and fulfilment.

If you followed my advice and made a mind map, or similar, it’s time to put it somewhere you can look at it daily. Stay focused on your F-words as you move through life, and see if you don’t end up doing a whole lot better, in every area.

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Freelance writer & indie author sharing thoughts on health, wellness, lifestyle, creativity, and productivity.


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