Over the past decade, I’ve observed the majority of my friends vacillating between various hobbies and passions trying to find the ‘one thing’ to bring them a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life. For some, it was meditation / mindfulness. For others, it was CrossFit, Jiu-Jitsu, etc... And for many, many others, they are still searching.
You’d think that after a decade of searching, my friends would have found their ‘one thing’ by now, but the fact is that most of them are in their late 20s and early 30s and have changed tremendously over the past ten years. This is to say that the idea of your ‘one thing’ is fleeting and ephemeral — you will change over the course of your life and so will your interests, so don’t be shocked when the thing you used to love is no longer appealing to you.
To add to this, many people don’t actually base their lives on what it is that they want, but instead what society wants from them. Not only does this compromise one’s identity, but it also stymies personal development by encouraging individuals to do what others want instead of doing what it is that they, themselves, truly want.
Adherence to this way of living serves to widen the rifts between disparate ways of thinking in our society — discouraging free thinking and the proliferation of foreign ideas. In effect, everyone now lives in their own bubble(s) and is highly discouraged from questioning / leaving them for the fact that doing so will cause them to oftentimes be ostracized and ridiculed.
“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul — would you understand why that’s much harder?” — Ayn Rand
This is not to say that all bubbles are bad. This is simply me encouraging you to recognize your bubbles and practice adversarial thinking to determine if they truly align with your beliefs. To determine this, let’s start by considering our mortality.
Breaking the Mould
If you were to die tomorrow, would you be proud of the life that you led, or would you have regrets? Would you wish that you had spent more time working and less time with family?
What would your closest friends say about you at your funeral? Is that how you want to be remembered?
If you find that you aren’t living the way you want to be remembered, it might be time to stop and reflect on how it is exactly that you do want to be remembered. One way of doing this is to consider what you believe to be the peak moments of your life and choose a few (e.g. 5) core values that you felt in those moments. Below, is a values color wheel to help you choose your core values (located on the outside ring).
Once you’ve identified these, write them down and carry them with you. Practice them daily and work to identify ways in which you can more actively practice them. For instance, if two of your core values are Philanthropy and Wisdom — you might get a lot of value from serving as a volunteer tutor in your spare time.
Invest Five Minutes In Yourself
Take five minutes each night to ask yourself how you did and didn’t abide by your values that day and what you can do tomorrow to be better. You’d be amazed by how quickly you will be to identify those things in your life that you should invest more time in versus those which you should spend less time doing. You’d be surprised at how much more happiness you’ll have in your life after just a few weeks.
Oh, and if you’d like an online resource to help with this, check out Committed. We’re currently working on an online journal to log these sorts of reflections, but you can check out our values assessment in the meantime!