What do I REALLY care about?
This is a question I ask myself every day when I wake up.
Why should I even leave the bed? A weird question to ask. It sounds so depressing. And answering it has become a lot harder since I quit my job close to two years ago. Back then, at least my job forced me to get out of bed. But now?
Now I no longer have any routines or structure. No boss who tells me what to do or yells at me for not showing up. No job description which tells me what I am. Or what my duties are.
There is just a lot of empty space and time. And I am stuck right there in the middle. Trying to fill it up with something else.
But with what?
Here are some ideas on how to find meaning in life:
1. Forget to eat and poop
This is the easiest and also the hardest part in finding your purpose.
I hated my first couple of jobs. But I had to do them in order to get food on my table. And because I found myself in a place where I needed something I hated, I hated it even more. Later I got fed up and looked for alternatives. Something worth pursuing. Something worth my time…
That’s why you have to find something which makes you forget to eat and poop. And then do THAT every day.
We’ve all had that experience where we get so wrapped up in something that minutes turn into hours and hours turn into “Holy crap, I forgot to have dinner.”
So go do that.
“But I don’t know what I could do?”
Well, then come up with something. Start with writing down some ideas if you have to. Work your idea muscle…
There are two criteria which have to be obeyed though:
- It has to be something “social”. Although being a solopreneur these days sounds super fun, you won’t make it without the help of other people. Even if you do all the work by yourself, you still need “other people” who buy your stuff later on. So keep the focus on something where you can provide value to OTHERS. And get rid of the idea of making it big all by yourself. It never works that way.
- It has to serve others. Shift your focus away from yourself for a while. You have to significantly improve other people’s lives. Make a difference. Help them solve a HUGE pain in the ass THEY might have. Solve a problem. Fix some pain points. Make them feel good emotions. Make them laugh. All good things to do.
Then pick ONE thing.
It’s hard to decide though. And I hate making decisions. I don’t want to miss out. So this is a struggle.
Naturally, you can only find out by experimenting what works best for you. Try it for a while and see how it affects you. If it makes you feel good about yourself, keep doing it. If it feels like a drag, you better keep looking for something else.
There are endless articles about “how to find your passion”. You COULD read them all… But I can also tell you: I tried that and it won’t get you far.
In the end it boils down to doing something you care enough about so you are OK with dealing with all the bullshit that comes with it.
By seeing personal importance behind your “thing” all the other issues like motivation, procrastination, laziness, etc. usually all go away.
You do it because it is important to YOU.
Use the “Joy-Money-Flow” Model:
Find work that puts you in the FLOW, that you enJOY doing and that has the potential to make you some MONEY in the long run.
I stole this model from the Chris Guillebeau site. Sorry!
2. Move towards resistance
Have you ever wondered why some things are EXTREMELY hard and others are not?
Like watching the new episode of Game of Thrones while eating chips is pretty fucking easy. On the other hand, going to the gym or writing that novel you always wanted to is insanely difficult.
I hate writing the first couple of words each day. They never come easy. And they suck most of the time as well. The first 1000 words are bullshit thoughts I have to get out first. And my inner resistance makes it hard for me to plow through. To keep writing until (eventually) the good stuff is coming out. Or not.
Resistance only kicks in when you are moving UP.
When you are moving towards a higher goal. Any task which makes you grow as a person and raises your consciousness. Resistance loves to stop you from elevating your own game. But it never intervenes when you are going downhill. It never stops you from letting yourself go.
It makes it hard for you to rise. But easy to fall.
(Stupid concept to be honest…)
Yet, you can use this resistance within yourself to guide you towards where you have to go. Wherever the resistance is the strongest is exactly the place where you need to go in order to grow as a person and contribute the most with your individual talents and strengths.
And in return, you also get a lot of meaning out of your efforts.
3. Eat the shit sandwich
A lot of work sucks. Most of the time.
And that’s why it’s so important to find something you LOVE. Because it makes the whole “putting in the work” stuff a LITTLE bit easier.
In order to find some meaning in your life, you have to decide on what kind of “bullshit” you prefer. What are the problems you are OK with? What are you willing to deal with on a regular basis?
You make your bed and sleep in it.
You pick your “shit sandwich” and you eat it too.
4. Making your younger self cry
When I was a kid I loved to read, write, and draw Star Wars cartoons about some random stories I came up with. I would re-write the movies the way I liked them to make them better. Now I do the same with my life. Read, write, re-write. Getting better at “life” a tiny bit every day.
As a kid you somehow KNOW what is good for you. You know what you love to do. And then you just do it. Life is a lot simpler. Because we are not as distracted as we are today. It was less noisy too. And we were better listeners as well.
As I grow older I have to remind myself to listen more carefully again. To the things I care about. The things I already know deep down are good for me but I am yet too afraid to admit to myself and to others.
If my younger self could see me now, I hope it would be proud.
For staying true to my true nature.
5. Embarrass yourself
When I was a kid we crafted a little wooden book shelf in school. I then wanted to make it a little bit more personal and carved a poem I wrote into it. I was proud of myself.
The next day I was disgusted by the same idea and asked my father to remove it again. I didn’t want the other kids to see or read it. I was embarrassed. And out of fear of the bad things these kids might have said, I held back what I wanted to show them in the first place.
No-one read this poem. And no-one ever will. It probably sucked anyway. Or maybe it was good. But the fact is that we will never know. Because I wasn’t ready to embarrass myself back then.
Now I am older and I can handle embarrassment a LITTLE bit better. Over time you learn to do stuff despite a lot of other shit happening around you. But it took a lot of practice. A lot of falling onto your nose. And getting laughed at. And then getting back up again. Over and over again.
But it’s only when you risk being embarrassed in front of a lot of people that you grow as a person.
And in return, eventually you’ll find meaning in your life.
6. Save a life / Save the world
My first couple of attempts in finding meaning in my life failed terribly. I was much too focused on myself. On my petty needs. Constantly I asked myself: “How can I get what I want? FAST!”
Finding meaning and fulfillment works the other way around though. It’s when you put the spotlight on others, on their problems, on their issues, that you can shine. By lifting up others, you also lift up yourself.
People might tell you that you can’t have much of an impact. But these are just the people who bought into this reality. And you don’t necessarily have to join them. The truth is that you are more powerful than you think you are.
Every day you can impact the people around you. It is true that you can only control yourself. But having control over yourself is everything you need in order to leave your mark in the world.
Because by raising your own thoughts to the next level, you also begin to choose your words more carefully. You think about how you treat people. And how to respond to “uneasy” events. You slow down. And put more focus onto the little things. And ultimately shape your daily actions to match your new quality thoughts. And then form even better habits. And sooner or later you find a different meaning in your life.
You did your part in saving the world.
7. Do it yourself
“Find meaning in life!”
“Find your purpose!”
What about CREATING and not finding some purpose in life? What about creating a meaningful life instead of just hoping to “get lucky”? That’s a better way to do it. Because it puts the full control onto yourself. YOU can actually do something about it. Since you create it, right? Finding on the other hand requires a lot of luck.
But how do you do it?
Well, I don’t know. But here is what I do…
What do I want out of life? What is important to ME? What do I need to live the “good life” (whatever that means to you)? Not the stuff other people try to tell you is good for you. Not even the stuff I try to convince you of.
What do YOU want out of life?
And THIS is your purpose. This is what gives your life meaning. Doing the shit you CARE about.
And then do it over and over again.
For the lone sake of doing it.
8. Let go of the whole idea
I mean, it’s kinda ironic that I even write about it and then tell you it doesn’t matter. “Finding your meaning in life” is such a media hyped topic. “You gotta find your purpose! You gotta find meaning in life!”
Do you really?
What about having NO MEANING. No purpose. Isn’t it still your life?
I tend to get lost in this endless and unsatisfying search of trying to find something worth living so that I sometimes simply forget to live.
Yes, thriving for something greater than yourself is nice. Yes, exploring your deepest desires and motives is rewarding. But never do it at the cost of the current moment.
Because “if you take care of the moments the years will take care of themselves”.
I have to go buy some food now.
I forgot to eat.