Finding Your Purpose in Life/Motivation rut

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Question
Hi Nancy,
I am a 31 year old female living in the US. A few years ago, I quit my job and co-founded a tech startup. It was my dream to break away from my previous job and take more control of my life and so I jumped in wholeheartedly and enthusiastically when the opportunity presented itself.

I worked a lot and lived on my savings while we built the product, tried to get customers and sought investors. I left a year ago, 18 months after co-founding it. I had run out of money and didn't have the option to continue, although my co-founders continue to work on it to this day. The entire experience of doing a startup ended up being far more nuanced, dark and soul crushing than I could have ever imagined it would be, although I am still very glad I went through it because I learned so much.

Anyway, after leaving the startup I moved back in with my parents in August 2015 to save money and get back on my feet. I have done a few short jobs since then, which provided me some money to live on. The reality, however, is I am not motivated to go back to work. I have been volunteering a few hours a week for causes I support because I enjoy it and it allows me to network and keep my skills sharp.

I pushed myself so hard during those 18 months that I literally could have died of exhaustion. Even after resting and taking care of myself all year I am still weary. I don't have the oomph to get a job or build another business. I know that living with my parents is not good for me in the long run, and yet I still haven't found the motivation to change this. The only things I am motivated to do right now are eat good food, travel, play outdoors, read, garden, spend time with friends and put 5-20 hours a week into a cause I value. Ok, tbh, there are a lot of positive things I am motivated to do for myself and others. It just so happens that none of them involve making money or working for pay. UHOH! I know this needs to change. I am also having trouble getting organized and getting into gear so that I can change this.

Hoping you can help me to see how to get out of this rut. Thanks for offering your help and support through AllExperts :)

Answer
It can be very hard to start over when your dream doesn't work out the way you wanted. You grieve the loss of not only the actual opportunity but the dream itself. And now you have to figure out what new dream can replace the old one. And I'm guessing you also may have some self-doubt: if the first dream wasn't what you wanted it to be, how can you trust yourself to choose correctly when it comes to picking a new dream?
(It's not unlike getting back out in the dating world after a major relationship goes down the tubes!)
The good news is that you are involved in a cause you care about. Start there: what is it about the cause that really calls to you? And what is it about the work you are doing for the cause that satisfies you?
Is there a way that you can spend more time with that specific cause or one that is similar in a paying position?
Alternatively, if you are enjoying what you are doing with that cause, perhaps a similar paid position in another non-profit or company is an option.
Third option: can you take what you learned from the tech start-up and use it as a springboard for a paid job? (I don't know what your involvement was but I bet you learned a lot that could be useful in another type of environment.)

Also, set a deadline for yourself: by a certain date, you will move out of your parents' home and into your own place. That will give you an incentive to explore your situation and come up with new plans.
Every day, make a list of three tasks you must accomplish to work toward that deadline.
Also, make a master list of all your skills, abilities, gifts/talents, attributes, traits as well as every challenge you undertook, even if it didn't turn out the way you hoped. This is your Success List: it will make you feel better about yourself and also identify what you bring to the table. Good luck!  

Finding Your Purpose in Life

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Nancy Christie

Expertise

I offer advice and recommendations on making changes in your life, developing goals and getting out of your rut. This applies to both personal and professional situations. Please note: I do not provide specific career advice. I would suggest you consult a career counselor for those types of issues.

Experience

Developer of "Rut-Busting" series of workshops Creator of the Community of Change web site (http://www.nancychristie.com/community-of-change/) Former host of Take Charge of Your Life on VoiceAmerica Radio Author of THE GIFTS OF CHANGE, published by Beyond Words/Atria, with three foreign language editions.

Organizations
American Society of Journalists and Authors

Publications
Cancer Fighters Thrive, Daily Health News, Healthy Woman, Woman's Day, Stress-Free Living, Tai Chi Magazine, Experience Life, HomeBusiness Journal (columnist), Succeed

Education/Credentials
Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

Past/Present Clients
The Ritz-Carlton, GA Chrysalis-A Center for Women, MN Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center, PA Breast Cancer Support Group, PA

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