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Two friends were recently assessing my life progress since leaving the military to become a writer.  (Note: I love it when my friends think my life is worthy of discussion, even when I’m not there.  It makes me feel very loved.)

One felt I was still wrestling with difficult decisions and labeled me a “lost soul.”  The other had exactly the opposite opinion.  She thought I’d seen the light and was taking brave steps to make big improvements in my life.

So who was closer to the truth?  And how would I know?

Let me tell you, it’s certainly not as if the transition has gone exactly to plan.  While I don’t regret leaving the military, there are days I’m plenty frustrated with some of my decisions.  What I envisioned at the time and the reality of my day-to-day life are sometimes pretty different.  I think this is to be expected–one can’t anticipate all the ramifications of a 90 degree career change (if I’d really just become a writer, I’d give myself a full 180, but I’m clearly not there yet).

On the plus side, I’m much more relaxed (and sleeping better) than I have in years.  I also love working from home–it was clearly a huge, missing piece from my happiness puzzle. On the down side, I still haven’t escaped the bureauacracy I despise, but in the short-term, I don’t really see a way around it.  I also promised I’d spend more time with my family, and I do, but not to the extent I’d like.

When I really thought about it, I found myself agreeing with both of  my friends.  So I thought it would be fun to create a quiz, since surely I’m not the only one wrestling with the whole “lost soul” question.

The Quiz

Here are a few of the questions I asked myself. At the end, compute your score and see where you fall on the lost soul spectrum.  Don’t forget, it is multiple choice, so don’t take it too seriously!

1) You’re at a party and someone asks what you do for a living.  How often do you reply, “I’m a (your occupation), but haven’t figured out what I want to be when I grow up yet”?

A) Never  B) Sometimes  C) Frequently  D) I don’t wait for people to ask

2) How do you define success?

A) Whether I get a promotion   B) Based on personal goals  C) It is impossible to define  D) I’ve never been successful, so I wouldn’t know

3) You decide to take a day off work.  How do you feel after you’re done getting ready for the day (breakfast, teeth brushed, shower, etc)?

A) Anxious  B) Ready to be productive  C) Relaxed  D) Lonely

4) How do you describe family vacations?

A) A duty  B) Fun but also exhausting  C) Best part of the year  D) Do I have to go?

5) You’ve had a really tough day and need some cheering up.  Who do you primarily turn to for solace?

A) Significant other/family  B) Best friend  C) Online buddies  D) Whoever will listen

6) Congratulations!  You’ve won the lottery.  Tomorrow you will…

A) Call a lawyer  B) Start a charity  C) Put in your two weeks notice  D) Tomorrow? You have some purchases to make today

7) After accomplishing a major goal, you…

A) Set a new one   B) Reflect on how you’ve changed  C) Throw a party  D) Wonder why it feels so anticlimatic

8) When life comes to a close, the most important thing is…

A) You provided a good inheritance  B) You’ve left a legacy  C) You’re surrounded by loved ones  D) People weep at your funeral


If you primarily answered A, you are an: Eagle Scout.  You get turned on by tradition and probably dreamed of being a doctor or lawyer as a kid.  Family values were engrained in you at a young age.  But it’s also really important you dazzle at the office, so you struggle with work/life balance.  You thrive in a competitve environment and derive pleasure from impressing others.  Fortunately, the world was designed to play by your rules.  For you, life is a collection of merit badges.

If you primarily answered B, you are an: Explorer. You have a pretty good idea what you want out of life, but you’re not always sure how you’re going to get there.  You’re comfortable with changing plans as long as your core support remains stable (and you’re willing to define that group in nontraditional ways).  Learning is more important to you than achieving, though you are happiest with both.  For you, life is about being free enough to enjoy the journey.

If you primarily answered C, you are a: Life Boat. You’re pretty content to go wherever the current takes you, as long as you stay afloat.  You do best when you’re surrounded by other driven people, so living somewhere with a strong support structure is important.  You get uncomfortable when challenged, perhaps because you often lack confidence. Work is something you do to pay the bills, and you dream about retirement (the sooner, the better).  For you, life is about the company you keep, not the one that pays your salary.

If you primarily answered D, you are a: Lost Soul.  You are confused, disillusioned and depressed.  You often have dreams you’re late for class and can’t remember the combination to your locker (too bad the big homework that’s due is locked inside).   No one seems to understand you, probably because you don’t understand yourself.  You frequently second-guess your decisions.  You just don’t understand why you can’t claim the success that’s due you.  For you, life is a maze.

Time to share

Answering my own questions, I scored as an Explorer (or put another way, a reformed Eagle Scout).  Either way, pretty far off from Lost Soul.  Whew!

How about you–what did you score? Was the description right on the money or woefully inadequate?    Hopefully either way you enjoyed the exercise (oh geez, that’s just what an Explorer would say, isn’t it?).

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51 Responses to Quiz: Are You A Lost Soul?

    • On
    • October 25, 2010 at 10:50 am
    • Daria
    • Said...

    I scored B’s and C’s. First time in my life that A’s weren’t a good thing! :) I think that I am mostly an explorer, but that I feel I should value happiness and people more and that is why I am pushing myself to be more of a C. As I’ve aged, I’ve leaned more toward thinking – what is my legacy anyway? The answer certainly isn’t money. It is usually – Have I made the world a better place for my having lived? Did I do as much as I could? Was I happy?

    Hmm, so do those sound like Explorer or Life Boat answers?

    Thanks Jen. Btw – where did you come up with the descriptors?

    • Daria,

      It’s an important point–your “score” can definitely change over your lifetime, due to a shift in perspective, a life changing event (i.e. birth of a child, death of a loved one), or even just conscious choice. Realize though that none are right or wrong, even the lost soul. I was a lost soul once and I think it was an important part of my development. I joke that I never would have thought to marry someone as wonderful as my husband had I not found the bottom of the relationship barrel!

      Also remember that the values aren’t exclusionary, but utilize different priorities. Everyone, to a certain extent, values family and friends. Eagle Scouts love their families, but tend to prioritize careers over family, even when they say they won’t (can’t help it–it’s who they are). Life boats are the opposite, and then get confused when their careers don’t soar. And explorers are somewhere in between, shifting priorities as it seems to make sense at the time. Lost souls don’t know their priorities, but relationships are a huge part of their emotional make-up.

      I made the categories up quite frankly. I did, however, base them off people I know who seem to have fundamentally different perspectives on life. They’re amalgams and definitely imperfect, but I enjoyed thinking about it and my husband actually loved taking the quiz himself, so I thought I’d go ahead an put it out there. If the quiz gives you perspective on who you are and who you’d like to be (as it sounds like it did for you), I count it a total success!

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  2. hmmm… 3 A’s, 3 B’s and 2 C’s… Not lost, but perhaps confused.

    Fun quiz… Thanks!

    • Further proof you’re a fascinating person I’d love to know better. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • On
    • October 25, 2010 at 4:23 pm
    • Aileen
    • Said...

    Jen, this is such a fun quiz! I’m tempted to fib a little… but I won’t. I’m half B and Half C meaning I have two B’s. 2 C’s and 2 that are both – seriously – I’ve gone from being more a lifeboat (out of just not being confident enough to explore) to evolving into a more bold courageous person who just takes doubt and fear with me along my new explorations.

    I agree with your comment to Daria, “your “score” can definitely change over your lifetime, due to a shift in perspective, a life changing event”

    • I know–the temptation to fib IS there! It’s totally possible to be in between answers. Sounds like you’re in the middle of a transition, so your score may make sense for you. So glad you enjoyed it–it was a lot of fun to create. Must be the teacher in me. Ha!

  3. Hmmm … 3 C’s, 2 B’s, 1 A and 1 D. :) And I’m sure that’s something that would have been different two years ago and will be different two years from now! Fun look though. :))

    • I think that just means you’re somewhere between a life boat and an explorer. Which sounds about right from what I’ve read on your blog. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Deb!

  4. This reminds me of the homework assignments a therapist used to give me. I hated doing them at the time, because I scored Ds all the way… :)

    Now, what advice do you give to those of us straddlers who still dream about being late (constantly!) but otherwise answer mostly A?

    Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer that question. Sometimes a quiz is a nice way to reflect on where you’ve been.

    • Oh Lindsey, that is definitely an Eagle Scout response that you thought this quiz felt like an assignment! LOL That’s really funny.

      As a former Eagle Scout myself, I can say that anxiety dreams are perfectly consistent for both Eagle Scouts and Lost Souls. So you managed to find a loophole in my quiz. Good job! (I know Eagle Scouts like positive feedback–forgot to mention that!) :)

      As I said before, there’s no right or wrong way to be. Even the Lost Soul category can be very useful for self growth and introspection. I ought to know!

    • On
    • October 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm
    • Farnoosh
    • Said...

    A quiz ha? Well I scored somewhere between an Explorer and a Life boat with moments of floating into Lost Soul zone…it’s all those years of having to do what I was supposed to do that has driven me to the edge, Jen! :) I am perfectly happy being labeled a lost soul….I am happy and content about where I am and where I am going, even if I have no idea how to get there. As Scott said in Blogworld, “how” is overrated just know “Why” you are going somewhere….! And you my dear, you seem anything but lost to me….! :)

    • I think it’s great that you can be happy being labeled a Lost Soul. That shows you are at peace with yourself, which is a great place to be!! Scott’s quote is a mantra for Explorers, so if you find yourself identifying with that strongly, it may be meaningful.

      I’m not lost now, but I certainly have had periods in my life where I was. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without my Lost Soul periods. Don’t regret them for a second!

    • I am an “Explorer” I do however believe in reincarnation, when we were in Sicilia I had de ja vu in every city and had the strangest “center” I have had with people in quite a while. I know where my soul calls me to be, it’s near the Ocean, it’s def in So Cal, don’t ask me why (no there is not a lady calling me out there) It is the worst feeling on Earth to know where you have to be and not know how to get there this instant! AHHHHH

  5. What a fun quiz! How very clever of you. My scores were pretty evenly divided between B & C so I am guessing I balance a bunch of aspects depending on my mood and the situation. I like to think of it as exploring from the life boat with some unexpected detours along the way. *lol*

    • That’s so poetic, it makes ME want to be an exploring life boat! You win for best response!

    • On
    • October 27, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    • Katie
    • Said...

    Jen, great quiz. How did you know I love quizzes? I’m an explorer, through and through. The description fits (scored 5Bs, 1A, 2Cs) or at least I strive to be an explorer. I was a lost soul for a long time, but moved into lifeboat mode for a while, which got me here. Thanks for the self reflection and for sharing your story and your warmth. Great meeting you at Blogworld!

    • Katie,

      I love quizzes too! I was always stealing my Mom’s Cosmo to take the quizzes. It brought back happy memories creating this. Glad you enjoyed it and that BlogWorld could bring us together. :)

  6. I’m so glad to hear that you are feeling more at peace with your next move. Rome sounds terrific! Please keep in touch and let me know what you decide to do there. I’m very happy I could help, but I agree, sounds like the answers were inside you all along. Safe travels!

    • On
    • January 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm
    • Angela
    • Said...

    Nice that you’re “pretty far off” from being a Lost Soul. Lost Souls, who are actually IN PAIN, might find your breezy glad-I’m-not-one attitude hurtful.

    • Hey Angela,
      I can see how you interpreted this post that way, though that certainly wasn’t my intention. First, it’s important to realize this is primarily a career blog, and the term “lost soul” is defined within that context here. Using that definition, one might say I spent a good deal of my adult life as a lost soul. But here’s the thing: I didn’t realize I was in that place for many, many years. It’s not always as obvious as one might think, because you’re not always in conscious pain. Hence the point of the quiz.

      The bad news is that if you languish as a lost soul long enough, you’re almost sure to become depressed and experience the pain you describe. I’ve been there. The good news is that you don’t have to stay there. There’s a way out. And that’s hopefully what this site offers: an optimistic view on leaving that all behind.

    • On
    • October 11, 2011 at 2:06 am
    • moe
    • Said...

    I scored b & d and yes its bang on the buck but there is not much I can do about it now is there? I dont wanna be a lost soul but these things happen to people. It sometimes seems like nature itself works against you. I mean the sun shines every day until the day u wash your cloths, the day u go for an important meeting is when there is a breakdown or hold up, u want to fill in a form at the bank and though you are not scared, your hand is just not steady on the day….

    • Moe,
      I think the key is to see being a lost soul as an evolution towards something else, not necessarily as a bad thing. So I think there is something you can do about it: learn whatever you can from the experience and see if it takes you somewhere new. Sometimes our greatest contributions come from periods of feeling lost.

    • On
    • June 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm
    • kears
    • Said...

    I got the lost soul and it’s surisingly an accurate description..saaad though

    • It doesn’t have to be sad. Use it as a catalyst to change! Some of my lowest points were the moments I finally committed to making my life better.

    • On
    • August 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm
    • Renee
    • Said...

    Hi Jennifer.

    I feel lost at this time of my life, but I scored 5Bs and 3Cs….
    but I still feel am lost..

    • It’s ok to feel lost. I think everyone feels that way at one time or another in their life. I certainly have! Most of us fail to act until the pain is big enough. Use that as a catalyst to get clarity.

    • On
    • April 12, 2013 at 7:53 am
    • kathleen
    • Said...

    Loved finding your blog/quiz while in search for a more “spiritual” sense of the thought of a “Lost Soul”. Take religion out of the thought and I would say you nailed it pretty much. I have been in that dark place too. Peace,
    Currently evolving as an Explorer with her toes in the Life Boat :)

    • Love the way you phrase that, Kathleen. Toes in a Life Boat sounds just fine. :)

    • On
    • May 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm
    • allie
    • Said...

    what do you do if you get all D’s? ’cause i did…

    • On
    • March 28, 2014 at 7:26 pm
    • Mike
    • Said...

    4D, 3B, 1A
    A lost soul that sometimes know even in a maze there are some certain roads, some acts worthy of doing, some movies worthy of watching, but at the end, life is so complex for me. When it comes to the meaning of life I find it very difficult to satisfy myself with a definition. I mostly think the majority of people have just found something to grasp without knowing what exactly that thing is. I feel lonely in the ocean of life drifting around without finding an island to rest. I am the Morsso of “the stranger” by Albert Camus. It is always other members of the family and friends that call me, yet they consider me a kind person. I don’t know why I always want to sleep and nothing can satisfy me!

    • Mike,
      I don’t think you have to know the meaning of life, but you do have to understand what brings meaning to your own life. That’s not as hard as it sounds, although there’s a lot of misinformation out there. My guess why nothing satisfies you is that you are pursuing things that don’t feed your own definition of success. I have some free material through my No Regrets Career Academy that may help. Check out the first video and circle back to me. I’d like to help if I can.

    • On
    • June 22, 2014 at 7:31 pm
    • yasmin
    • Said...

    I scored Bs Cs and Ds. I know I am an explorer inside and I always feel that because others don’t see things the same way I am always an outsider. Hence I feel and know I am a lost soul but that makes it harder to find people to connect with, people that feel or see in such profound ways as yourself. And I don’t really know how or where to find happiness or anyone to share it with

    • Yasmin,
      First, I think you need to remind yourself that we all go through phases of being a lost soul. It’s okay. You’re not any less of a person for being in that place in your life. If you’d like to move more into an explorer role, start by trying to let go of the expectations and internal critiques. Life is an adventure, which means by definition we don’t have everything all figured out … and like it that way. Happiness begins inside, when we can love ourselves regardless of what we do or the outcomes we spend so much time thinking about. When happiness is part of who you are, not what you do, you will find there are more people to share it with. Hang in there!

    • On
    • August 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm
    • Brian
    • Said...

    1) B; 2) B; 3) D; 4) D; 5) A; 6) C; 7) A, 8) C

    I scored evenly among all the questions. Where does that leave me? Perhaps there should have been an odd number of questions . . .

    • On
    • August 26, 2014 at 9:06 pm
    • Victoria
    • Said...

    Just like figured..l I got 4 D’s and 3 C’s and 1 B…

    I did it because I wanted to see what it would tell me or if I was really as lost as I thought, guess I am just a Lost Soul

    • On
    • December 11, 2014 at 10:37 am
    • Nicholas
    • Said...

    I am more of a life boat. 5bs 3cs

    • On
    • February 4, 2015 at 6:24 am
    • benny boy
    • Said...

    jesus christ!! i scored d’s all the way…

    Cant believe im still a ‘lost soul’.

    • Benny, we’re all lost souls at some point. I think the question you need to ask now is, how do I move to one of the alternatives? I don’t know the details of your situation, but in my experience, the underlying issue is that you’re putting too much pressure on yourself to succeed. You’re equating your self-worth with your accomplishments. I know because I did that for many years, and once you get started, it’s hard to stop. The best way I know to get over it is to practice daily courage. I don’t know if you already subscribe to the blog, but when you do, you get 8 weekly challenges via email. Give them a go and let me know how each one goes–really. It’s helped more than one person get back on track. And, if you’re already feeling like a lost soul, what have you got to lose?

    • On
    • February 10, 2015 at 9:59 am
    • Hayley
    • Said...

    I already know I’m a lost soul.. I just don’t know how to get outta of it.

    • Hey Hayley,
      I know it sucks when you’re in the middle of it, but reassure yourself that we are ALL lost souls at one point or another. Your question, “How do I get out of it?” is actually a very good sign. Simply recognizing there’s a mechanism to learn is very healthy. My suggestion is to start focusing on a few things: 1) Be more courageous–if you haven’t already subscribed to this blog, do so and get my free courage challenges. You’re welcome to let me know how you get on with them. 2) Think about moments where you’ve been proud of yourself. Then try to do more stuff like that. The courage challenges are an excellent start, but there are probably other ways too. They don’t have to be BIG things. Look for little moments. 3) Be more generous. Sometimes when we’re in a terrible funk, it’s easy to get lost in our own problems. So focus on other people for a while. Human connection makes everything better. :)

      I hope that’s helpful. Let me know!

    • On
    • February 20, 2015 at 12:18 pm
    • Theodore Nicholson
    • Said...

    7 B’s and 1 D. Wow, I did better than I thought. This makes me feel better :)
    Thank you for making this quiz. Namaste.

    • On
    • May 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm
    • Crystal
    • Said...

    B and c was a tie.

    • On
    • June 22, 2015 at 10:42 pm
    • Brandon
    • Said...

    Mostly d’s with a few C’s I don’t have a clear idea what to do ever where I am going even in my daily life I struggle to find meaning in anything I do, it’s hard to find things I even enjoy doing. I have moved a few times hopping something would..” Shake loose” for lack of a better explanation
    I float through a by stander to most I try my my best to try to succeed at what I do and have a positive out look on things yet I’m not going anywhere nor do I even have the desire to try to do stuff. I have very few people close to me including family I find it tiresome and draining even picking up the phone to talk to anyone.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated or advice on how to get out of this hole I have been digging deeper

    • Brandon,
      I’m so sorry to hear you’re feeling like this. It may help you to know that I’ve heard this from so many clients–you’re absolutely not alone! It’s so prevalent, I think I’m going to write a post just for you in response. It might take me a few weeks, but keep your eyes peeled (maybe subscribe if you haven’t already).

      The short answer is that, in all likelihood, you’ve become addicted to extrinsic motivators. There are other causes, but this is the most common. The science is clear: if you rely on extrinsic motivation too long and too much, it will kill the joy of activities that used to bring you joy intrinsically. I’d take a hard look at why you’re doing what you’re doing, and as much as possible, try to remove those external drivers as much as possible. Now, it may be you’ve internalized those external drivers, and thus tell yourself there are few other options, but a little distance and perspective caused by forcing yourself to test those assumptions can do a lot of good. Check out Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards. I don’t go as far as he does in saying you need to eliminate extrinsic motivators, but most of us need to do some heavy pruning. I hope that helps. Please reach out again and let me know how you’re doing.

    • On
    • August 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm
    • Meagan
    • Said...

    majority of my answers were D’s… Guess I really am a lost soul.

    • On
    • August 27, 2015 at 3:58 am
    • ROHIT
    • Said...

    @JENNIFER GRESHAM– 3’s D and tie for a b and c. really confused. plz help. why its all happening with me??

    • Rohit,
      I can’t know why you’re getting those answers without more background into your situation. My guess is that you’re in a period of transition, and sometimes transitions are messy. Tell yourself that’s okay. Trust in yourself to experiment and find new ways. And get help if you need it. Too many try to solve everything on their own. I’ll be wishing you the best.

    • On
    • October 21, 2015 at 5:04 am
    • ALLAN
    • Said...

    It seemed that the D’s were my perfect match as I answered D for everything. It just seemed so simple for once…

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