Do you ever find yourself wondering if the life you are living is the life you were meant to live? Have you ever just looked at your life and thought to yourself, nope, this is not my destiny – this grind and routine are not why I’m on earth. There is something more, there has to be. If you are wondering about this now, let’s explore. By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have 5 specific actions to take to determine if you are living a life worth living?
The Answer Is In The Question
My experience has been if you are asking the question, there is likely something lacking in your life. There is a change that needs to happen. One can assume you wouldn’t be asking the question if you felt you were living the life you were destined to live, unless, of course, you are just checking in to make sure (which is a very good thing to do).
It seems the plight of many of us is the struggle with the “enough” monster.
- Am I doing enough?
- Am I experiencing enough?
- Am I giving enough?
- Am I loving enough?
- Am I learning enough?
- Am I laughing enough?
- Am I fulfilling my purpose?
Whose Expectations Matter?
Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate the thoughts and expectations of others (or the “enough” monster) from listening to our gut and living a life that is specific to who we are and our purpose on this planet. For example, you may feel drawn to being an artist yet you’ve been told your entire life it’s impossible to earn enough to live as an artist. So, you gave it up and now live a life you can’t stand and wake up every day trying to convince yourself you can do this.
Or maybe at the opposite end of the spectrum, you are crushing life – living your purpose, feeling fulfilled, surrounded by people that love you, yet, there’s still that nagging little voice in the back of your mind that reminds you of something missing. But you don’t listen because, after all, you have a great life. How selfish would it be to want something different?
Time Is Limited
If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that life on earth is precious and limited. To live a day, week, month, or lifetime dictated by others is to relinquish all responsibility to make decisions about your life and purpose in this lifetime. Determining the best use of each moment of your time on earth is a worthy endeavor.
This is a question I ask myself almost daily. It’s a daily gut check to ensure I am living each and every day on purpose because whether you like it or not, you aren’t going to live forever. Today could truly be the last day for you. Since my purpose is to help others live their best life, my goal is to find a way to help you get there. I don’t want you to float through life and then look back with regrets. It’s too precious a gift to do that.
So, today, while Louie and I were out for a long walk, this was the topic of consideration, deep concentration, and problem-solving.
Take Time To Reflect
It was a perfect day for a long walk – sunny and nobody else on the trail so Louie could be off-leash and roam through the woods, sniffing, and chasing squirrels to his heart’s desire – living his best life so to speak.
It’s also good thinking time.
The trail I chose today is a rails-to-trails path. It’s where old railroad tracks have been ripped out and turned into really nice dirt paths for bicyclists, hikers, etc. And it’s virtually endless – I can walk for hours or days. This particular trail is mostly tree-lined. It’s so quiet out there you can lose yourself in the silence.
I start these walks by being thankful for everything in my life. Today’s list included:
- The nature surrounding me
- The perfect 65-degree weather
- That I had such a beautiful path to walk on
- That I had the flexibility in my workday to take a walk like this
- That nobody else was on the trail
- The phone call from my adult son
- I am healthy
- That I pooped before I left the house (because there’s nothing worse than needing to poop when you are an hour from your vehicle)
- And the list goes on.
Starting with gratitude is a great way to set the tone for such a deep and important question which brings me to tip number one.
5 Tips For Success
1. Start with Gratitude
Before pondering anything in life, start with gratitude. While a worthy endeavor, it isn’t just about being thankful and appreciative. It’s also about getting your heart and soul in a calm, peaceful, and grateful place before pondering your purpose in life. When you come from a place of anxiety and frustration, like “I don’t know what to do!!!”, the response is more of a panic reaction. And when we base our decisions on panic reactions, they generally aren’t the best decisions. This is because in a panic state we are in fight or flight mode. This means we are likely to just run.
Related Article: Maybe You’re Being Grateful For The Wrong Things
Thinking about your life purpose and how to spend the time you have on this planet requires calmness so you can actually hear that inner voice. Starting with an attitude of gratefulness helps to get us to that calm state because we can focus on what is good and right in our life instead of the pain and frustration.
While gratefulness is a great way to get your mind in a calm and peaceful place, you might also try meditation or walking.
2. Ask Yourself Two Questions
Once you know you are in a calm, peaceful state, ask the following two questions:
- Am I currently living a life worth living (is this the life I’d want for my children, best friend, or someone else I care deeply about)?
- If not, what would a life worth living look like?
When asking the first question, think in terms of feelings. For example, if you rephrase the question to something like “Is this the life I’d want for my children or best friend,” it’s not about the actions. Obviously, you don’t want to dictate how your friends live their life (i.e. career choice, etc.) but you do want them to feel fulfilled, purposeful, happy, inspired, and any number of other wonderful adjectives.
I’m going to take a wild guess that if you are still reading at this point, the answer to question one was “No.” If that’s the case, let’s delve into why that is.
Believe me, this is worth your time to consider. Too many people stay in bad relationships, work for shitty bosses, and spend their lives doing what others want them to do. Don’t wait until you are 80 to realize you should have changed the direction of your life.
Related Article: How to Create a Personal Vision/Mission Statement
Related Article: How to Create a Life Plan
Take some time to think about what a life worth living would look like for you. This is your life. You get to be the creator of it. Quit relinquishing that responsibility to others. Quit using others as an excuse for your unhappiness. And quit worrying about what others will think of you!
Take The Time To Do It Right
This exercise could take hours, days, weeks, or even months. Go crazy! Here are some questions to get you started. If you were living a life worth living . . .
- What would you be doing each day?
- Who would you be spending time with?
- Where would you be living?
- What kind of work would you be doing?
- How much would you be working?
- What would you do for fun?
- How would you define success?
- How would you feel about your life?
- What would getting out of bed feel like (would you be full of energy because you are living a life worth living or hitting that snooze button 15 times)?
3. Create a List of Actions That Would Get You Closer to Your Ideal Life
Now you know what a life worth living would look like for you. It’s time to conduct a gap analysis and start taking steps in the right direction. Make a list of actions you need to take to get you one step closer to your ideal life. This is a brainstorming exercise so I want you to think broadly. Let’s use an example to get started. Let’s say you’ve discovered in order to live your ideal life, you wouldn’t be working as much as you are. You might start your Action List with “work less.” Now, let’s take that further and make it more specific.
- Work 30 hours per week.
- Get a different job.
- Ask my current employer if I can decrease my hours.
- Quit giving my employer more time than they are paying more for (salaried employees)
- Brainstorm other ways I could earn a living.
- Clean up my resume.
You get the idea. Some people immediately jump to “quit my job” without considering all the other options. And then they panic with an “I can’t quit my job, how would I pay the rent?” And before you know it, you’ve given up on the entire idea and five years from now you are still frustrated.
Approach everything on your ideal state list in this way. I remember at one point in my life, having a big garden felt like part of my purpose in life. Growing my own food felt like a necessity. This may have been because I had been in apartments and homes with no yard for years or because I realized how playing in the dirt and growing things was so rewarding and nourishing to my soul. In my ideal, purposeful life, I’d have a big garden. My list of tasks may have looked something like this:
- Buy a house with a big yard.
- Find a community garden.
- Find someone with a yard that wants a garden and help them plant it.
- Grow as much as possible on my patio.
The point here is not to limit yourself to just one way to accomplish the life you feel you need. There are always options, so consider all of them.
4. Start Taking Action
Now it’s time to start taking action. Take a step in the direction in which you are being pulled. You don’t have to do anything drastic (but hey, if you feel so inclined, why not?). You don’t have to uproot your family and move across the country. You can just take a step in a new direction. If you hate your career, do some research on what it would take to start a new career. If you work for a terrible boss, dust off that resume or focus on creating better boundaries with said boss. If you think a new location is what is needed, start to create a plan for getting to that new location.
You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to change things overnight. Just take steps in the right direction. You’ll find that once you start taking steps, you’ll either become more convicted or you’ll realize that you weren’t listening quite right. While change is uncomfortable, when you are completely “tuned in”, you’ll know if you are headed in the right direction.
Check out my article on Staying Focused if you struggle with maintaining focus on the actions you want to take.
5. Be Adaptable
Living a life worth living is fluid. Being new to listening to your inner voice, you may not hear it correctly. This means you might start down a path and realize that was not the correct path after all. And you’ll likely know that immediately. It’s okay to shift course and it doesn’t make you flaky or indecisive. It just means you are learning.
Take the example of the garden I listed previously. I might start a garden in a community garden and realize I hate hoeing, weeding, and working in the heat. That’s a valuable lesson to learn before buying five acres in the country.
I have this yearning to not waste any time – like there are things to do, people to see, experiences to have, and maybe most importantly, contributions to make. I don’t really know where it comes from, this burning, yearning inside me (wait, isn’t that a song? Elvis Presley, maybe?).
I think there must be some reason I feel this way. Maybe my purpose on earth is to experience and contribute as much as possible.
All I know for sure is I want to live a life worth living . . . each and every day.
Implementing the steps listed in this article has helped me to do just that. It’s still hard sometimes to listen to that inner voice, especially when I’m really enjoying the comforts of my life.
On a final note, there will be people that try to change your mind, tell you to slow down and enjoy life or make you feel bad for wanting more out of your life. Just remember, this is your life experience and your path may not follow the same path as others. Live it without regrets.
Before you go, you might also be interested in some of these articles: