Feeling Lost as an Analyst

I write this post looking for advice. I am going to be blunt and will sound extremely arrogant, but I am not at all trying to sound like I am praising myself, just trying to give context cause I feel like an idiot that I am in a bad headspace. I am just fucking lost and feel uncomfortable turning to those I am closest to because they'd think I am crazy.

I am a first year analyst at a top bank in a solid group. I've been fortunate to always do well and have extremely supportive parents. I grew up in a nice home where my parents spoiled me growing up (nothing absurd though just extremely loving parents), went to a top ivy where I played a sport and was a key player on the team, and had great grades. I've always had great friends who I love to death, and a girlfriend for a few years that is beautiful and literally all I could ask for as a person. As I write this, I know it sounds like I am such an arrogant piece of shit, but here I am, absolutely fucking lost regardless of what boxes I can say I have checked over the years.

I don't know what I want in life. I grew up with the mentality of always wanting to be one of the best at everything, and to be honest still have a very competitive mindset. I anchored myself in this endless pursuit of success that has led me to a spot of questioning my purpose and existence. Spent day after day, month after month, just checking boxes. I've tried so many different things, especially when having free time before I started full time and nothing is sticking. Working out, reading books, traveling, video games, etc. I keep trying, and nothing is working. It's like I complete a task, and instantly think "now what?" 

I don't mind banking at all. I don't mind staying and working late to get something done. At the same time, I don't love it though. I don't have this huge aspiration to be a rain-making MD. I'm unsure if I want to go into PE (Not doing on-cycle). My life has always felt like a "What's next?" sort of timeline. And here I am asking myself what's next again with no clue what to do. I used to think that next would always just be the step that gets me closer to significant wealth. Never did I desire to be the world's richest man, but definitely thought that I would try being worth a lot of money at a relatively young age and retire. But once my parents retired a few years ago, and seeing the lifestyle they live, I had this realization that holy shit I cannot do this. I can barely keep myself entertained now... waking up with nothing to do each day sounds like hell on earth. 

There's some sort of void in me, and I am not sure how to fill it. I feel there's more out there, there has to be. But at the same time, some of the grand ideas are just unrealistic. It's not like I have enough money to quit my job and go pursue making the world a better place. It's not like I have the time to travel the world and immerse myself in different cultures. I don't know what to do. I thought I would find peace as my daily life got busy forcing my hand to enjoy the less free time I have, but it's almost done the opposite. I find myself in the hours I get to myself each week, more anxious than I have been, asking myself what the fuck should I be doing with my life?

Most Helpful

Try Jesus. 

You are seeking fulfillment and purpose in worldly things, reality check: these goals are simply meant to be means to an end. You need a larger life purpose and it starts with recognizing your value in the world as a human being and a child of God. 

Would suggest seeking a therapist or psychologist. Using success as your number one motivator in life will probably get you a lot, as it currently has. But I won’t bring you happiness.

And then when you realize how depressed you are even after all your success… well it’s a brutal feeling and something I hope to figure out with my psychologist

Agree to this 100%, but this also implies adjusting your underlying motivations and reasons as to why you tick, which tbh is what I would suggest anyway. 

Taking a step back and looking at all the things that went right + the things you have will help, not just with satisfaction, but also with being able to stay in the moment and enjoying the "now" as opposed to worrying and stressing about things in the future. Learning to be grateful inherently forces you to be in the "now" by making you assess what you have NOW and the things that led up to what you have and where you're at NOW, which I think is what a lot of successful/ambitious people struggle to do (which makes sense since ambitious people are naturally constantly thinking of the future and what they need to be doing). Having hobbies where you don't need to apply that "successful and competitive" mindset is super important, because you get to actually enjoy it. I love basketball and reading, but as someone who's always over competitive, I've been enjoying reading a lot more lately since I do it purely for enjoyment as opposed to basketball where one bad shooting day can actually ruin my week HAHA.

Now as to how you get to a point where you can become this way and whether you even want to at all is a whole other story, and I would honestly suggest seeking a therapist to assess these sorts of things. I think it's incredibly difficult to be able to completely change the way you think about things without professional help (but that's just me, maybe I put too much trust in therapy). 


Echoing another comment. Christ is the only Way. I felt the same exact pain and uncertainty and He took away all of it. There is a Jesus-sized whole in your heart that you can spend everyday aimlessly trying to fill, bc I did too. Idc this gets MS here but this is the truth. Praying for you brother.

You cannot make the world a better place. That was kinda a con job- but you can make your world a better place- which is all you control. The other con is that goal of life is happiness- when we all get sick and die, and suffer-isn’t realistic either. But you can find meaning I believe- you can’t control your thoughts but you can control your actions. Do things that make you feel morally strong and honorable. Do the things that a hero would do- the selfless things- when no one is watching- when no kudos are not involved. Ask how others how they are doing and listen and see things from a new sincere perspective- amazing how helping someone else changes your frame- you can partially fill the void but nothing professional or monetarily will last more than a moment- a bad relationship can be destructive when it can be beautiful addition- so be sure to always act and be respectful and honest- even if it is ending- if it isn’t - be worthy of your mate and allow them to be your best friend and never betray them. The challenge you face is in the mind of everyone around you as well- just people at various stages of coping. I am old now and the struggle gets quite difficult. I wish I knew these things at your age when there was time to change myself. Your frame of existence is naturally changing from seeking some non existent magical future goal to realizing that the actual trick is the journey itself. Be the best person you can be- act in honorable ways- as you have already seen- all the gifts of your past don’t mean a lot except gratitude- so use your gifts to now learn things that you haven’t faced with the same tenacity as you have everything else- being very bright is awesome- and also means you will overthink and make yourself miserable- you don’t have to label yourself as happy or not or depressed or whatever- you are likely all these things moment to moment so let yourself just be- be kind to yourself and with grace- what would you tell a friend who is struggling- listen to how supportive you would be and offer same to you- your life has had a major transition so it makes sense to be out of sorts- find a good therapist - not all are good fits- you are not a victim in the world- don’t allow your mind to slip there as thought circles don’t help- it is easier to be depressed so fight the good fight as I know you will. Best wishes friend

Sounds like you are seeking meaning from external sources which is a never-ending cycle as you will always be chasing more, and nothing will ever be enough. 

You should honestly start looking within, sounds cliche but it's true, I've been there. 

Spirituality/God, whichever sits easiest for you, is the way to find peace and meaning. 

Some books I'd recommend: "Man's search for meaning" (Viktor Frankl), "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself" (Michael Singer), "Surrender Experiment" (Michael Singer), "Power of Now" (Eckhart Tolle), "A New Earth" (Eckhart Tolle), "Meditations" (Marcus Aurelius) 

Wish you all the best

Based on your post, and your position, you are young. I would advise you to not put too much pressure on yourself to have a "purpose" or "calling" just yet. Many people your age haven't found it yet, and many 20 years older than you haven't found it either. There's a reason the mid-life crisis is a thing: people wake up into their 40s or 50s and realize they don't have a purpose in life, and they do something drastic, ranging from buying a motorcycle to blowing up their marriage / life. The good thing is that because you are actually realizing this relatively early, you can make changes to your life now.

One of the challenges for you atm is that you are in the grind. You don't even have time to think about what you want to be doing, let alone going out and doing it. This is normal, and contributes to those mid-life crises (waking up one day and realizing life has kind of passed you by). I would recommend therefore the following concrete next steps:

  • Start by carving out a little bit of time each week to do things that aren't work. This could mean as little as 15-30 minutes. It could be exercise. It could be a walk. it could be a new hobby or class. You can find 15-30 minutes, there is no excuse. Just cut out partying or something. I find that when I work out as an example, I put in headphones, and in between sets, I have those few moments where I can kind of clear my head and let my thoughts wander. Great times to think. Better yet, if you can work out outdoors, with a view, even better.
  • Travel. One of the absolute best things that change perspectives is travel. Get out of the daily grind and go somewhere else, so you can see how other people live. Visit Europe, Asia, South America, the Middle East, wherever you fancy. Meet new people and listen to their stories. Do this alone or with friends. There are also many trips designed for young adults who don't know each other, but get to travel together. But also keep in mind, sometimes, you need to just slow down and stop and think. One of my best trips was to an all-inclusive in Mexico. I just sat on the beach and kind of stared off into space for half the trip. By the end of it, I had a lot more clarity on what I wanted in life. Really useful

Like many on this site, you are one of those kids that was high-achieving. Good grades, good school, good career. But that rigidity and structure, which was super useful when you are younger and not sure of exactly what you wanted to do, can feel stifling as you get older and realize that many people don't live life like that. Just remember that the checklist and the grind are all self-imposed. People are in them because they feel like they can't get out (golden handcuffs), because they are comparing themselves to others (keeping up with the joneses) or because they don't know what it is they want to do, and they want to keep going because at least it pays well (optionality, exit opps, etc.).

The benefit of getting older is that you start to not give a fuck what others think and start just doing what you want to do. Don't want to stay at that party? Great, leave. You want to travel to this great place but none of your friends wants to go? Great - JUST GO. The moment you start doing things more because you want to do them and less because of social pressure, the happier and more fulfilled you will feel.

long story short: dont be afraid to read then do abt something ur interested in, and be open minded abt what Could be interesting to U. Same boat here; believe had been through similar phase later last year / earlier this year. also currently 1st yr analyst just started on the job at a top group at top bb. have a pedigreed education background but only exception is parents never really pushed me towards a particular path; i was simply being fomo. leading up to the point of college graduation, i followed a pretty standard and straightforward, socially acknowledged path. but graduating one semester early and traveling, reading alone shattered my previous view. my life went from following a blueprint to having no structure at all. im also not the type who can just sit brainlessly. by the middle of spring semester j started reading books abt what i always wanted to do (also similar, wanted to do something for the world) and actually went pretty deep and gave me unforeseen opportunities. Now, as i go to my job daily working on ppt and excel, i remind myself to find some meanings here too. no matter how out of touch bankers r with humanity and the broader world, try find meaning for urself by having ur own world in the bullpen.never stop thinking abt ur dream. find what calls u though staying grounded when we r young

The issue is you don’t like what you do and you had a realization that IB isn’t fulfilling. If you were interested in the industry then it seems that you would be a hardo for PE, but you mentioned that opportunity doesn’t interest you either. Sounds like it’s time for a pivot.

For that, I recommend you look to get your MBA. It will allow you a reset to help you identify what you may be interested in. Also, you mentioned that you are competitive, so getting into a top MBA would scratch that itch of checking a box / achieving a goal. Lastly, if you don’t need a loan it will at least will buy you time, but if you do need a loan that debt will give you a “purpose” and a “challenge” to pay it off real quick!


OP, you sound beta as hell. You chose this industry. You really expect people to feel sorry for you when our ancestors had to go to war at 18? Also there are people as in worn torn countries with nothing and they’re not b*tching like you. Stop crying about your privileges and be grateful for what you have and crack on, or leave the industry. Simple as! no one is stopping you from handing in your resignation.

This is a slight tangent from this comment, but have you considered joining the military? You are a clear performer/over-achiever, but it seems like you need a longer-term challenge, possibly even special forces. The world is constantly improving and life for humans, in general, has become easier despite what the media shoves down our throats. Due to this reality, top performers can become complacent and "lost."

Also echoing the "finding religion" comments, however, I'm not going to push you toward any specific one. Get in touch with the one you were born into, or, if you don't like that one, explore them and see what resonates.

Want to echo the others on here urging you to strengthen your relationship with God. I've been going through some personal difficulties recently as well and putting my faith in God and the church has helped me so much. Its easy to get distracted and forget the way, but (attempting to) living the way God intended for us has brought me great peace in times of turmoil. I'm praying for you

OP asks for help, we give genuine accounts of what worked for us... and you ask what's up with us? Maybe, just maybe, we are trying to help?

I’m in a similar boat- had everything growing up, and now that i don’t have that next clear thing to chase, I’m a bit lost. I know I want to be more successful than my dad but that’s such a tall order if I use it as a happiness benchmark it’ll be an endless pursuit. I believe in becoming more complete and developed of a person by persevering through challenges, so that helps keep me somewhat grounded. But I’ve had this feeling and anxiety of not knowing what I want to do next before, and it seems to always come back. I try to set tangible goals for chapters in my life and use them as benchmarks, and try to make efforts to do things to try and enjoy life like exercise, time with friends and family, etc. But it’s a tough way to live with that feeling always in the back of your mind, and I don’t really know how to deal with it either.

Very similar in terms of pursuing a specific, lofty goal my entire life, accomplishing it, moving on to the next one, and eventually realizing that it wasn't fulfilling and questioning how I constructed my life.  The two pieces of advice I'd give: (i) if she's the one, start thinking about marrying your girlfriend and starting a family.  Accomplishments are empty if you're not sharing them w/ people.  Started dating a girl this year that is wife material, she makes me happier than any bonus, offer letter, or scholarship offer I've ever received.  Currently re-planning my future around starting a family w/ her in the near-term.  (ii) Someone else said it, but God.  Tough to do Christianity when you're hyper-competitive, goal-oriented, and like to accomplish things on your own (like me and probably like you), but there's fulfillment in it and I happen to believe that it's all true.  

Echoing other comments regarding spirituality - does not have to be organized religion, but to believe something greater than ourselves is one of the key drivers of our life (if you wonder why organized religion is so popular, purpose is one of the big reasons)

I recommend reading different scriptures from different religions in an academic angle - for myself part of Buddhist ideology does resonate a lot as well as some of the ideas of the Abrahamic religion, though I don’t really practice in any of those and don’t label myself as a “buddhist” or “Christian”

It seems like everyone already talked about religion. So I’m going to add to this. Try surfing, I’m not kidding!

I felt very similar earlier this year. It felt like I had everything: supportive family, amazing girlfriend, money, target school, friends. Yet, a feeling deep inside me told me I wasn’t enough.

I always had a great ability to get good at whatever I set my mind to (sports, school,etc). But I went out surfing for the first time in April. And let me tell you that no matter what person I thought I was, it didn’t matter when I was shivering out in the water trying to swim against the Pacific Ocean, in what felt like a constant battle to stay alive.

Obviously, I progressed and learned techniques so that I didn’t feel like I was going to drown every second. However, the ocean has been so humbling and therapeutic for me ever since, and It’s hard not to be out there.

I don’t know if you have access to the ocean. But if anyone does, give it a few tries as the start of your day. It will improve your sense of self.

You might find working in a startup interesting. They're always looking for folks with finance talent. Alternatively, you could apply to an MBA program and use the time there to explore what kind of work actually makes you feel a sense of fulfillment. My MBA experience has done wonders in that regard.

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