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I found this thread on Quora when searching for some responses about how to live a meaningful life, on a day when I was feeling particularly aimless and lacked motivation. I came across one specific response that I thought needed to be shared. If you know what I’m talking about, then this is for you.
(Life Coach, Speaker, Writer. Published on TIME, INC & Huffington Post)
“It’s obviously not going to do you any good to try out something random in the hopes that it will get you a goal, purpose or meaning. You’ve tried that until now and it hasn’t helped so far.
Thus, the best thing to do at this stage is to actually sit down and think about your life.
I know this can be hard to some, but it’s essentially the thing that will net you the most benefit if you do it.
What is it that you want out of life?
That should be THE question in your life right now. Nothing should be as important as figuring that out.
Now, this is a very complex answer and something that will most likely feel too large to answer, so let’s divide it up.
Tony Robbins, [who’s] one of the leading people in the area of Self-Improvement, does this by breaking up life into 7 Main Categories.
- Physical Body
- Emotions & Meaning
What he suggest(s) you do when you think about these areas is to rate them from 1–10 twice; once for where you feel you are, the second for where you want to be.
This is a method derived from Psychology(’s) ‘Self-Discrepancy Theory’; the discussion about Real vs. Ideal Self.
When you understand where it is you are and where you want to go you can more accurately draw a path there, much like if you are going on a road trip.
If you are missing either your starting or end point it will be tough to do anything about it.
That being said, here are some things to think about when you consider each of these Categories:
- Physical Body → How fit are you right now and where do you want to be? Do you want to be healthy, skinny, buff, fat, muscular, big, compact etc.? How do you want to feel physically every day? Do you want to be feeling light and fit, or heavy and slow?
- Emotions & Meaning → How are you generally feeling? What are your emotions like right now and how meaningful is your life right now? Where do you want it to be? Why are those emotions important?
- Relationship → What are your relationships like right now? Do they fulfill you? Are you happy being around other people or do they drain you? Are you missing some friends or a partner in your life? How do you want your relationships to benefit you? What do you want them to be like?
- Time → How much time do you currently have in the day? Do you have enough to do everything you want or is something missing? Are you stressed out or do you have enough time? How would you like to spend your time? What would a perfect day look like for you?
- Finances → Where are your finances at? Do you have enough money or are you missing something? Where do you want to be financially? Why is it important to have that amount of money? What would you do with the money if you had it already?
- Work/Career → Is your job fun and fulfilling? Do you love going to work or do you hate it? What meaning do you gain from your work? What do you want your job to be like? How do you want to feel when you go to work and while you’re at work? How do you want to impact the world? Why?
- Spirituality → Is your life making you grateful? Are you loving life or hating it? Do you wish you had more time to find out about yourself, your spirituality and god, the universe or life itself (depending on what you believe in)? Where do you want that part of your life to be?
Answering these questions should spark your ideas and it should give you something to work towards.
And that is exactly what will ultimately lead you to find more purpose and meaning.
Purpose, Meaning, and Fulfillment in life are all dependent not on the actual goals you achieve but on the progress you make towards them.
It’s the journey towards the goals, the feeling of your life moving forward and the positive feedback you get when working on these goals that makes you create a meaning for life.
Which means, the last step to removing this feeling of aimlessness is to create something to do.
Based on what we discussed before, the easiest thing for you to do would be to set up at least 1 Habit for each of the Main Categories.
In creating this habit ask yourself what habit would get you from the score you are currently at to just one score higher.
Do not try to do too much. This will be a long process. It is supposed to be.
Again, the point is not that you reach your goals insanely quickly or effectively. It is not the goals itself that matters but the journey there that will make you feel like you have an aim in life.
The stronger the desire pushing you towards the goal the greater your sense of purpose will be, but as long as you have a goal it will at least remove this sense of being lost.
Find a direction by dividing your life into (its) simplest form and doing something in every area; you will find your aim sooner than you think.”
(Full conversation thread can be found here. I hope you find some useful answers.)
Blessings in abundance!