Do you ever wonder, “How do I find meaning in my life?” Or maybe you wake up every day and wonder what it means to have meaning in your life. If it feels like all you do is the same thing every day, you are not alone.
Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the malaise of daily life: wake up, shower, eat, work all day, eat, idly wait until it is time to go to bed and start the next day. And then you wake up and do it all again.
The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ― Eleanor Roosevelt
Now, I know that waking up and getting to do it all again is nothing to sneeze at, and I am grateful for the day. However, over the last year, I had found myself frequently asking, “There has to be something more, right?” I knew there had to be because I had felt it before, and wondered how to find meaning again. Here are three ways I rediscovered the purpose of my life, and I hope they help you too!
Find your bliss (follow your passions)
Many years ago, I started coaching a local swim team. I had been a competitive swimmer in high school, so I knew how this worked. I had also just had my second child and loved that the hours were part-time. I would show up in the evenings in casual clothes over my swimsuit, with my hair in a ponytail. It never felt like work. The smell of chlorine and the sound of people swimming laps soothed me.
I have a management and leadership background, which let me use those skills in a way that reminded me I have a natural talent for leading. It wasn’t long before I was teaching swim lessons. Then I became certified to train new lifeguards and swim instructors.
My skillset was aligned with my passion for swimming, and every day felt like I was making a difference. It didn’t matter if it was because I had helped the terrified 5-year-old learn to swim like a fish, or had taught a teenager who might save someone else’s life or supported the Y in reaching its business goals.
Sure some days were less perfect than others, but I was using my gifts and talents in a way that made me happy. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the skills or abilities that come naturally to you?
- What are you doing in the moments when you feel the most fulfilled?
- Are you choosing to do the things that make you happy?
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell
Find your tribe (build connections)
Humans continuously search for connection and belonging. Your tribe, according to Amanda Kohr, “means that we are looking for people who share commonalities or possess the traits we aspire to adapt.
Whether it’s a family, community, or group of fellow practitioners, our tribe is important because it reflects our values while simultaneously satisfying our need for companionship.” Who we spend time with matters.
Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” My grandmother always used to say that we were a reflection of the people we hung around with as kids, and maybe she was on to something.
Sure finding your tribe means that these people will encourage and support you and care about you, but it is more than that. You will also end up modeling behaviors and beliefs of the people you spend the most time with. Most people spend a significant amount of time with their coworkers.
Ask yourself if they are the type of people you want to be like because they influence your behavior. If going to work every day feels draining because of the people who work there, or the environment you are in, it is probably time to look for a new job or a new line of work.
If you are searching for some new connections, don’t get discouraged if it takes a while. It is a process that will require you to do some soul searching. Ask yourself:
- Do the people I spend time with have similar interests?
- Are the people closest to me, encouraging the steps I am taking to improve my life?
- Are they kind and grateful? Are they whatever other attributes you value in people?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and explore new interests. The more you learn about what brings you joy, the more you will be able to make space for people who share your passions.
“Don’t waste your time being what someone wants you to become, in order to feed their list of rules, boundaries, and insecurities. Find your tribe. They will allow you to be you, while you dance in the rain.” ― Shannon L. Alder
Do something you have never done and something you have always wanted to do
Whenever my husband and I are looking for something to do on a date night, I like to go to places we have never been. The act of doing something different helps break up the monotony. It is essential to have a daily routine, but keeping things new and fun will help you find meaning in your life.
Each unique experience adds a layer to your life that wasn’t there before. These do not have to be crazy expensive things; it can be a new restaurant or visiting the new axe throwing place (that just sounds like a blast, doesn’t it). I have never thrown an axe before… ever.
Doing something you have always wanted to do is equally beneficial in finding meaning in your life. These are things on your “someday list.” It might be a trip you plan on taking, or maybe it’s an experience, like seeing a Broadway production.
Make a list of someday things, but not like a bucket list, because you don’t have to be dying to make the life you live more meaningful. Once you have identified the things you want to do, the next step is simple. Do it!
“Let’s never, never, never, forget these three things: An easy fun life is totally achievable. A plan and many steps may be needed. No matter how tired and deep in the mud we are, let’s make sure we take one little step forward every day.” ― Rodolfo Peon
Now, depending on what you have on your list, you might have to save some money. Make a plan though. Pick up a little side hustle and put the money in a savings account just for this. If you have to learn a new skill, like say scuba diving, then take the class. Whatever it is, start working toward it.
This time that you invest in figuring out what makes you happy, and then devoting the time to do it, will enrich your life. Spending time with like-minded people who motivate you to be better will take you to new heights, you may have thought were impossible.
Experiencing new things in life will keep the malaise at bay. Really, the key to finding meaning in your life is to live a life that you find meaningful. However, you make that happen; just go make it happen.