Find Meaning in Life

Get Results: meaningful specific focus
Get Results: meaningful specific

Life includes a great deal of struggle and suffering. But what if I told you there is opportunity for hope? What if I told you that you could improve your life, and the life of your family, and make things better in your community?

If you’re not interested in doing this, then you should accept you have no cause to complain. If you are unwilling to make the necessary changes and take the actions to make life more bearable, then that’s a conscious choice that you’re making. But stop pointing an accusing finger at others and realise your own lack of effort contributes to the problems you complain about.

It’s difficult to deal with the human condition; our vulnerability in a world that often seems possessed with negativity and malevolence.

This negativity starts with the tyranny of the culture and society we live in. Value hierarchies become power grabs that benefit the few, rather than value structures that serve the masses. Some people benefit, not because they provide more value, but because they wield more power. The old way of doing things holds back new ways of doing things.

The negative aspects of nature include all of its destructive elements. We’re talking about things like the aging process, illness and disease, natural disasters and the inevitability of our own deaths. All these things are out to get us and our loved ones. Loss is part of life, some people experience greater losses than others, but we all experience loss at some point in our lives. At the end of it all, we know we must face our own mortality.

If all this wasn’t enough, we also face the cruelty of human nature. We see it in the actions of others and see the potential in ourselves.

So it’s understandable that against all this potential for suffering the predicament for human beings is a difficult one. We must find something that counteracts this negativity and makes the suffering worth enduring.

The way to do this is find meaning in life, something of a hero’s journey that offsets life’s tragic circumstances.

First, we must recognise that society, nature and human nature each have their positive aspects that offset their negatives.

Culture and society is a protector that shields us from nature and the darker side of human nature. Most of the time we interact with others free of fear that they are going to attack us, take our possessions and make our lives a living hell. Society does this by socialising people, teaching what is expected of them in a civilised society. Sure, there are some that break the rules, but imagine what the world would be like if chaos reigned. We take this aspect of society for granted, but realise it’s not a certainty, it’s a privilege that we enjoy because of the sacrifices of those generations that have gone before us.

The push and pull of liberal and conservative traits holds hierarchies in unstable equilibrium and it needs both to maintain the tension in which hierarchies function best. The conservatives maintain the necessary hierarchies, the liberals hold them to account by standing up for those souls that accumulate at the bottom. Hierarchies tend towards tyranny if left unchecked, so we require liberals, hierarchies are necessary and so we require conservatives. If you think the answer is to tear all hierarchies down, you don’t understand their function nearly well enough. Hierarchies give something for people to aspire to, they focus productivity and they work as long as they remain fair. We must all fight for equality of opportunity, social mobility, and ensure we remove tyrannical power from the game.

Nature is not just a threat to life, it is a life giver. It is the creator of all the beauty that surrounds us. We take much of this beauty for granted, but it only requires us to open our eyes to see the majesty that nature has gifted us.

Now let’s consider the positive aspects of human nature. Sure, there is much evil in the world. Those who would rather destroy, than build, those that spread hate rather than love. These people get most of the attention from media, but fortunately they are in the minority.

The other side of human nature is the capacity for love and connection, for innovation and selflessness. There is much of this positivity out there if we look for it. Many of the things we get enjoyment from comes from human endeavour and ingenuity. Again we take these things for granted, but it is truly amazing that these things are so routine and stable, that we can take them for granted. Water flows when we turn the tap on, electricity is available at the click of a switch. We have heating, shelter, food, the internet, the power of functionality in the phones that consume much of our lives. We have cars and roads to help you get to places, and planes to fly to far-off lands for a few hundred pounds. Wow.

So life is not all about suffering, there is much to be grateful for. Everything contributes to the rich tapestry of life and makes it so interesting.

But it’s important to find meaning in life, something to aim for and aspire towards, a sense of direction.

You don’t have to come up with the next big invention to make a difference in the world. You can work small, but work at beautifying it to the best of your ability. Jordan Peterson posits it starts by “tidying your room”. By making the space you inhabit the best it can be, you improve your house, by improving your house, you improve the street, by improving the street you improve your community. And if everyone did this…wow.

Growing up, I remember the little old ladies sweeping the pavement outside their front door. Just this simple act of sweeping the pavement would make me think how this little old lady was contributing to keeping her space neat and tidy, and how it demonstrated her pride in where she lived, and I thought I should do the same. It rubbed off on me, and I’m sure it had some impact on others who witnessed her doing the same thing over the years.

I see many people complaining about where they live, but I wonder what they do (apart from complaining) to actively make things better.

Communities are made up of people, not inanimate objects. People can make the most dismal places feel like a nice place to live. The tenement block becomes a depressing place because the community lets it become one, the people that live there allow it to become so.

I like the example used by Jordan Peterson in many of his talks about finding meaning in the smallest endeavours. He talks about running a modest café and it being a microcosm of communal activity, a place for neighbours to meet and congregate. A place where people rest before they go and do their important work. A place to nurture and educate their employees to be better and find pride in their self-sufficiency. This isn’t just about talking up a menial job, it’s about recognising the contribution it makes to the people who benefit from it.

The taxi driver is not just a taxi-driver, he/she is an important part of the economy, who serves to help people get to where they need to go. Without him/her many people would suffer greatly. They would be isolated, unable to get to important appointments, unable to get to the shop, unable to get home safely from a night out etc.

You have more power than you think, so make a positive contribution, no matter how small it is. A kind word can improve someone’s day, take a few minutes to speak to a neighbour, you might be the only person they get to talk to today. You probably know how upsetting it can be if someone says something mean to you, it can stay with you and really put a dampener on your day. You might know the frustration of letting someone out of a junction, when driving, and not having them acknowledge your kindness.

Little things make a big difference. Find meaning in these simple gestures and acts, and find meaning by pursuing a meaningful goal, regardless of how small a contribution you initially think it makes.

Planning Your Goal

Get Results: planning is indispensable
Get Results: planning is indispensable

Jim Rohn famously said “To have more you’ve got to be more”, not in the sense that your sense of worth should  be wrapped up with your abilities and what value you can provide to the world. For you are an extraordinary light as you are, but society rewards those that provide the most value to others, at least in certain situations.

We all know those that do outstanding work, that help their fellow human beings or the planet, but who are not as financially rewarded as they should be, and in this sense, the world can be unfair.

Nursing and caring for instance is not well rewarded financially, doing good deeds for your neighbours, likewise.

So it’s true that you might want to do certain things that society is not going to reward you greatly for, unless you run a business or invest in a business that leverages additional resources to increases income. Generally the more people you can help, the more you get paid. You ultimately get to decide if you still want to pursue a calling that is far reaching or that helps on an individual one to one basis.

So you have to look into whether what you want to do is going to reward you well enough, if not you may want to look for other ways of providing income or leveraging  additional resources as highlighted above.

So carefully consider you goal, make sure it aligns with your inner being. Doing something that isn’t who you are, can grate on your soul and cause inner conflict.

My advice is, do what you love, that way it doesn’t feel like work. Figure out a way to do it, that will help pay the bills. I’ve never been one for settling or doing something that my heart wasn’t in, well I have but I didn’t last long doing them.

So with that said, are you doing what you love? Would you do your job if you didn’t need the money, or are you doing it solely for the money?

If you’re doing something you’d rather not do, then you need to work out a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

You have to start from where you are of course, you may need to do it for a certain time, but it’s important that you have a plan to work against that will enable you to transition into what you love.

That plan is of course different for each one of us. Figure it out, bath in the vision that you are working to achieve.

You may say to yourself, “I’ll do what I’m doing until I have £x in bank, or until my online business is better established” etc.

Make your plan doable, actionable, tangible, break it down into steps that are easy to follow and measurable, so you can make sure you’re progressing towards your goal.

It’s okay to pivot, when needed, because  as you progress you might uncover insights that better inform your plan, that may speeds things up or plot a different course. You might decide your goal needs to change based on new information. So keep it flexible, but don’t let self-doubt and fear put you off.

For more about goal setting, click here.

Goal Setting

Get Results: goal setting
Get Results: goal setting

The Goal setting strategy highlighted in this post is designed for businesses and individuals alike. Goal setting can be used for personal, business, health, and spiritual life, in fact whatever area of life you want to accomplish something.

Get Results: goal setting model
Get Results: Goal setting Model

You can have as many goals as you like in as many areas of your life as you like as long as you don’t overload yourself with an unrealistic amount of goals that are so plentiful you can’t keep track of them all.They can be changed at any time, altered, and redirected as you desire, but having goals, sets you off in a specific direction rather than just floating aimlessly. I advocate using one big “End Goal” which sets your life to a purpose, with all other goals supporting this “End Goal”.

Focus on one BIG Goal

Aim towards one big “End Goal”. A Goal will add purpose to your life. Check yourself before embarking on your journey. Check that your “End Goal” will give you the lifestyle you crave. Will you be doing what you want to do? Will it fit in with your family life? Will it give you the feeling you want it to? Will it allow you the right work/life balance you crave? Think about this carefully from the start. Don’t waste your life pursuing a goal you don’t really want.

Summary

  • Aim for one big “End Goal”
  • Check your “End Goal” will give you the life you crave

 Break down into smaller mini Goals

Each action should be aimed at the attainment of your “End Goal”. Start from your “End Goal” and work backwards. Break your “End Goal” down into smaller mini goals whose purpose is the ultimate attainment of your “End goal”. Line up your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly mini goals like domino’s so that each one that is pushed over helps in knocking down the next. This will add momentum and make the next mini goal easier. It’s goal setting in the present, we can only shape the future with our actions in the present. Tomorrow never comes. “Doing it tomorrow” is simply procrastination and fear of failure, rejections or disappointment.

Summary

  • Break “End Goal” into smaller sequential “mini goals” line up like domino’s so that each mini goal helps in the attainment of the next
  • Mini goals should be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly all leading to the “End Goal”.
  • What’s the one thing I can do now to help in the attainment of the “End Goal”.
  • Start today. The present moment is the only moment we live in. So shape tomorrow with the actions of today.

 Take action

The most important part is to take action. A sure way of not fulfilling your goals is failing to take action. Work out a sound plan of action and go for it. Don’t fear failure, because it is part of the learning process. Failure will help you test the soundness of your plan and help in your search for a better plan and for the attainment of your “End Goal”. Look for the best systems, models, habits and relationships that others have used to get the same “End Goal”. Who has achieved what you want to achieve and how did they do it?

The fear of failure, fear rejection, and fear of disappointment, will conspire to work against you and deter you from reaching your goals, they manifest themselves in the form of procrastination,  indecision, overwhelm, anxiety and keeping yourself busy doing unnecessary things so that you feel busy. To test whether you are suffering from any of these, ask yourself “What would I be doing now if I knew I could not fail for the next 24/48/72 hours?”

Measurable – Put a deadline on it. If you treat it like a project with a deadline and work backwards.  setting  your mini goals as you go it will help you “think it through”. Moving it away from being just a hopeful dream into a doable project. It will help you see what needs to be done this week, this month, this year, in the next 3 years etc. Check your actual progress against your planned schedule to see if you are still on schedule.

Summary

  • Taking action is key, without action you will never reach any goal
  • Set deadlines for your mini goals and the “End Goal”, and check progress against the plan.

Don’t give up

You can only fail if you give up. Life has a habit of testing us as we move through it and this seems particularly true just before we make a major goal breakthrough. It seems to be testing to see if we are worthy of it. Make sure you don’t give up at the first signs of failure overtaking you. Remember to look at the systems, models, habits and relationships of others who have succeeded in achieving the goal your are aiming for and see what you can learn from them in the pursuit of yours. Check out my problem solving post about overcoming obstacles.

Get Results: goal setting components
Get Results: Goal setting components
Get Results: setting goals
Get Results: Setting goals
Get Results: mistakes in setting goals
Get Results: mistakes in setting goals

If you’re interested using the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal setting it should be

  • Specific – Remember specific goals lead to specific actions
  • Measurable – If you can measure your goal you will know when you have achieved it. “If you can’t measure it you can’t control it” goes the management mantra
  • Attainable – don’t make goals easy to reach, In his book “The one thing”, Gary Keller advocates ignoring “doable” and “stretch” goals and going for “possible” goals, where you don’t currently have the skills to achieve it, this will allow you to grow into the goal in question.
  • Relative – Your goal should align with your morals and ethics and put you where you want to be in life. If it doesn’t align with your values and give you the life you want then it will not make you happy.
  • Timely – Set a timeline and aim for a deadline. Setting a deadline will help you focus on reaching your goal.

For more articles on GOAL SETTING, click here.

Goal setting Quotes 

“Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than before.” – Polybius

“Life can be pulled by goals just as surely as it can be pushed by drives.” – Viktor Frankl

“Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.”

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars” – Les Brown

“Your goal should be just out of reach, but not out of sight.” – Denis Waitley and Remi Witt

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” – Robert Browning

“Purpose is what gives life a meaning.” – C. H. Parkhurst

“Every ceiling, when reached, becomes a floor, upon which one walks as a matter of course and prescriptive right.” – Aldous Huxley

“Aim at the sun, and you may not reach it; but your arrow will fly far higher than if aimed at an object on a level with yourself. ” -J. Howes

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” – Seneca

“Who aims at excellence will be above mediocrity; who aims at mediocrity will be far short of it.” – Burmese Saying

“Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark.” – David Ogilvy

“The virtue lies in the struggle, not in the prize.” – Richard Monckton Milnes

“To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift.” – Franklin Roosevelt

“He who would arrive at the appointed end must follow a single road and not wander through many ways. ” – Seneca

“It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal and a step likewise.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” – Author Unknown

“Most “impossible” goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine.” – Don Lancaster

“There are two things to aim at in life; first to get what you want, and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind has achieved the second.” – Logan Pearsall Smith

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