If you’re struggling to find or even define your purpose in life, stop. Fill your days with meaning instead.
The difference between the two terms
Purpose is defined in various ways, but refers to the big answers of life — why we are here, what are we born to do, how will we make a difference, what is our legacy, etc. Those are big questions. No wonder they can seem unanswerable.
Meaning, however, is simpler. It brings purpose to any given time. It can be fleeting.
We sometimes view purpose as eternal, while meaning can be more temporal.
How they both fulfill us
Connecting the two terms is life values. Both purpose and meaning tie to what matters most.
Filling time with what makes us happy does exactly that — it makes us happy. It doesn’t always equate to fulfillment.
In contrast, choosing to fill time with meaningful choice is satisfying. Why? Because your choices are all about what is important to you. And when you make choices based on what is important, you have tied your values to them, ensuring they connect with who you are.
Ways to fill your time with meaning
- If you’re feeling reflective, take out a journal and write what’s important to you. Then choose activities that allow you to participate in some way.
For example, if nature is essential to your well-being, there are many ways to satisfy your need for nature. Consider how you want to add nature to your daily life. Will it be a walk, or gardening, working at a plant nursery, caring for rescue birds, etc? You get the idea. The possibilities are limitless. Your imagination is the only thing stopping you.
2. Focus on experiences that intrigue you.
Consider what you would like to do? Rather than where you want to go, or what you want to buy, what do you want to do?
3. Spend time with people who enjoy — and who accept and appreciate you
The balance between self-reliance and connection is a beautiful dance. Meaningful relationships and connection is important. Determine who and how you will allocate yours.
4. Focus on creative energy and create!
We’re all creative. Creativity is making something uniquely yours. It can be a meal you invented, an innovative work project, or yes, a beautiful artistic masterpiece. We aren’t all artists, but we are all creative. Unleash your creativity in the direction that is uniquely you!
5. Adopt a life philosophy and live in coherence with it
Psychologists, particularly in Positive Psychology, have defined coherence as a trait that adds to our satisfaction of life. Coherence is simply “how events fit together”. Adopt a philosophy of life that aligns with your beliefs, values, and ethics. Know it and live in coherent truth within it.
6. Expect changes and course correct
Life, age, and circumstances will require changes. A plan set in motion that’s working perfectly now may not work as well to fill your life with meaning in 5 years — or even 5 months. Expect changes and adapt.
Does it really make a difference?
Back to the existential questions! Much like the question of “what is my purpose?”, will filling your day with meaning make a difference in your life?
Yes, it will. Fill your time with meaning and you spend your time in activities that satisfy you, speak to your values and to who you are. By all those efforts, you acknowledge who you are. And that validates your self-worth.
So if you’re struggling to find your life purpose, fill your days with meaning. It may make you happier. You will definitely be more fulfilled.
Want help clarifying your values to aligning your life with others? Take a look at It’s Not That Complicated: How to Create a Personalized Template of Alignment for solutions.