A Quick Story
“I just don’t see the point,” I complained.
“To what exactly?” my best friend responded.
“To life! Why bother with anything? It’s all meaningless.”
“Whatever you say,” he cheerfully agreed.
My best friend, Pat, and I were hiking the 5 mile single-track trail to our backcountry camp spot in Glacier National Park. Embraced by the forest on either side, there was a palpable taste of peace and wellbeing in the air.
But I wasn’t happy; I was anxious.
“Dude, you just don’t get what it’s like. I have no meaning, no purpose! I want one. I’ve looked for one, but I’ve found nothing.” I complained. “It’s all just shit. I’m doing my best and I’m going nowhere. I just want to feel OK. That’s it! Is that too much to ask for?!”
“Oh wow! Do you see that bird? Pat exclaimed. “I think it’s a white-headed woodpecker. That is too cool!”
Lack of Meaning and Purpose a Major Problem
A sense of meaninglessness has taken America by storm. In the past, many people found meaning in both religion and family. Now, as science has replaced God, and individualism has disintegrated families, where people once found meaning and purpose now stands a black pit of despair.
“Why bother? Nothing matters.” is the pervasive attitude.
This lack of direction is a serious problem. Meaning and purpose are like a map and compass, they show you where you are and where you’re trying to go. These ‘known’ points provide a blanket of security; they protect from the chaos and insanity of life.
Rewards of Developing Meaning and Purpose
Meaning and purpose bring a whole treasure chest of rewards on top of this security. They make it possible to develop skills and move closer to and achieve your goals. They help focus your mind, providing access to the ‘flow’ state. They stave off negative and destructive thoughts and emotions. And, they unlock motivation and energy to make a positive change in the world.
How do you Find or Develop Your Meaning and Purpose?
Do you want to live a life of meaning and purpose, but all you actually feel is apathy? Maybe as you look around nothing appears interesting or important. You want to care about something, but you just don’t.
That’s ok! I’ve been there.
Here’s the starting point: your initial ‘aim’ is to find your ‘life’s aim’ (LA).
Now write a statement that describes what you want and why you want it. Initially it might go something like this:
I, (name), am on a mission to find my Life’s Aim. Right now I just don’t feel that good most of the time. Nothing seems to matter. I want to find something that matters to me so that I can feel better and get the most possible out of my one, precious life.
I know this is long, but here’s mine:
My Life’s Aim: I, Richard Meyer, will found and lead a multi-million dollar holistic health company. I will provide the tools, opportunities, and structure required for my clients to increase their whole-being health. I believe that by healing the individual we will heal our communities, our land, and ultimately mankind. I will achieve my life’s potential by empowering individuals to live with a ‘vigorous spirit’, and to then return to their communities to serve as a beacon of light and hope.
I read this EACH AND EVERY MORNING. I change it and tweak is as necessary.
1. Pick a working ‘life’s aim’ (LA). If you have no idea where to start, use ‘finding my LA’ as your LA.
2. Craft your LA statement and read it every morning. Your LA statement should include what you’re going to do and why you’re going to do it.
3. Create a plan to fulfill your LA. Pursue your LA every day.
4. Edit and refine your LA statement and plan when you have something that feels ‘more right’ to replace it with
5. It may take time until you develop an LA that feels truly meaningful to you. Enjoy the process.
This is how the process has worked for me:
At first I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted, so when creating my LA I was really just stabbing in the dark. That was my starting point, and I had nowhere else to start!
I read my LA statement every morning and pursued my aim regardless of how I felt. At first I had very little emotional attachment to my aim, but it was the best I could come up with so I pursued it anyways.
As I took action towards my aim, I inevitably learned both more about myself, the world, and what I might truly desire. I would then update my statement. Early on the changes were drastic. My changing statements shared little, if anything in common.
Eventually, as I began to understand myself better, my LA statements started to be small changes rather than large.
With each refinement of my LA, I felt a stronger emotional attachment to it. I was finding what was important, what was meaningful to me!
After working this process for over 5 years, I can finally say that I have a LA that feels truly meaningful to me (though it’ll always be subject to change). And it feels good.