It’s painful to walk around without any purpose, to wake up and face your day without any sense of meaning, to look at your future feeling confused and worthless.
What’s fascinating about the struggle for meaning is the diversity of people who struggle to find it, and the diversity of people who hold it. It’s like there’s no correlation or predicting factor...
But you know meaning when you see it and you know it when it’s not in you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, famous or not famous, young or old, anyone can struggle with finding purpose, with any social status, career, or amount of money.
Which is why meaning doesn’t have anything to do with what you do... it’s about how you see, how you perceive yourself, and the narrative you tell yourself as you interact in the world and your job and your family.
I never knew this until I started working with so many of my clients on it, but possessing a sense of meaning is an actual ability that you have to develop and cultivate.
So where does one start to form it?
By defining what in your life is meaningful to you and then planning your life around these things.
When you reflect on the past week or two, what moments were moving? What were the little things that you thankful that you were able to experience?
Write it down so you can see it, so you can aim for it, and then navigate your life around it.
I'm not talking generics like "hanging out with friends."
Set distinct categories and assess what leads to the most moving experiences in specific areas of your life (with categories like your relationship with God, your friends, your career, alone time, etc.)
And it doesn’t have to be big, loud, or popular either, most likely it's something small, fleeting, easily overlooked, and quiet. Like a cup of coffee warming your hands in the morning or reading your favorite book at the end of a productive day of work in the silence of your room.
Without meaning were empty, which is why it's so urgent that we lay out what is meaningful to us: because if you don't look for it, you won't find it. If you’re off track, you won’t know. If you don't chart it, you'll have nothing to navigate your life around or toward. And worst of all, if you don't have eyes to see what fulfills you, you'll miss it when it's right in front of you.
I promise you, the more meaningful experiences you look for and aim at, the more meaningful your life will become.
A simple path for finding meaning:
Define and lay out what is meaningful to you (develop a list of the different aspects of your life- like career, health, God, and so on- and then be as detailed as possible about the little things in life that you believe are meaningful to you in these areas)
Aim for them (schedule your life around your list)
Enjoy your experiences, journey, and life. (there’s no point in aiming for meaningful experiences if you’re not going to take them in.)
Ponder and assess and question with curiosity and wonder what is working and what isn't. Document it in your journal and talk about it with your friends.