How to find Meaning and Purpose in your Life

Find Meaning and Purpose

Are you searching for more meaning and fulfillment in your life? You’re definitely not alone. There is only one way to really be satisfied and fulfilled. The answer is very simple, but it’s definitely not the easiest choice to make.

What if you didn’t need money or attention?

Derek Sivers recently wrote a post that I think hints at one of key issues of our time.

If you stopped doing all these things you’re just doing for the money, or the attention, what’s left? Who are you, if you don’t do these things? Many of my friends are touring musicians. One has been quite unhappy with it lately. She realized it was once a dream, but now she’s just doing it for the fear of being forgotten. But if she stops, what’s left? She’s defined herself by this pursuit for so long.

Many of my friends are entrepreneurs. A few have mentioned this deep hollow conflicted feeling. Their business ideas are not things the world wants. They’re following the current tech entrepreneur stereotype, building social apps and pursuing investors. They’re hating it, and having to admit they’re doing it only for the jackpot. But if they stop, what’s left?

When Life Gets in the Way of Living

Far too many of us are so caught up in our work and everyday lives that we neglect what is most important. Money is necessary, we have to earn a living, however, so many of us are doing largely socially useless work. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you know what you are doing is not creating any real value to the world.

There is an Alternative

Imagine that you didn’t do what was prudent or what was expected. Imagine you had the courage to do what you knew in your heart and soul was the only right thing to do.

Your bank account would surely suffer. It might spell the end of a lucrative career. You’d most certainly have to consume less. You’d probably even lose some friends. What you you be willing to give up to do the right thing?

Change is scary. Most people are too afraid to do what they know they should do. Why give up a secure and comfortable life for the unknown?

There is a simple answer to that question:  you only have one life and it’s far too short to waste just to be comfortable.

Comfort is the opposite of fulfillment.

How to Find Fulfillment

There is only one way to fill that void in your soul; it’s to do what you know is right.

The right thing to do is going to be challenging and difficult. It’s going to be scary. The outcomes will be uncertain. And for all of those reasons, it will be the most rewarding work of your life.

You cannot fail if you do what is right because the outcome doesn’t matter. Regardless of what you accomplish, it will have been enough. Putting your best effort towards what is right is rewarding in and of itself.

Doing What is Right

A great example of someone who has chosen the right thing to do is my friend Ben Randall. He and Moreno Paulon are in the midst of filming a documentary to bring awareness to human trafficking in SE Asia. It’s called The Human, Earth Project.

They both quit well paying jobs to do the right thing. In fact, it was the only thing they could do. What would you do if someone you knew were kidnapped and sold to another country?

Hundreds of people around the world have volunteered or contributed to their crowdfunding campaign to finish production of the film. There is still time to contribute. Please take a moment to visit the campaign page.

We all have those moments in our lives when we get to choose between what is safe and what is right. Are you ready to do what’s right?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

11 Responses to How to find Meaning and Purpose in your Life

  1. Joshua Dent says:

    Your encouraging words mean way more to me than you could ever imagine. I am just in the beginning stages of starting a free-lance writing stream of income. As you say, I know it is right. But, it is difficult since change is scary. I just have to stay on track with short and long term goals.

  2. Rob VH says:

    Great blog post, John. It reminded me of a saying of mine that I adopted many years ago: “At the end of the day (or at the end of your life), you’ll never truly regret doing the right thing.”

  3. Russell savige says:

    “Meaning and purpose in life…”

    WOW… in my opinion that is the most powerful phrase in human existance. For the most part we just go through life, bouncing off the bumpers, as if we are in a pinball game.

    We go through our formal education, then start work, and within a few years we start a family.

    What happens next is one of several scenario’s…

    1) We live a long happy life and retire 40 or so years later, and hopefully our kids have left the family nest

    2) We start to have troubles… either because of our decisions on starting a family or our working life.

    The answer to the 2nd is easily fixed… change jobs, or re-educate yourself.

    However the answer to the first is very different, and far more difficult. It usually leads to depression, alcoholism and/or drug abuse… or worse yet, to conflict and physical abuse.

    After 50 years in the workforce and 10 years of that time spent in wandering around the world, alcohol and drug abuse, I can say that the only answer is to discover what your passions are, and follow them.

    Unfortunately, most young people follow the passions of flesh before all else… BIG MISTAKE!

    I feel there is a need for an advanced (or parralel) education on “life” that is sadly lacking in our education system.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Russell.

      I agree on the need for more life education. Although, when I think back on my younger days I don’t think I would’ve listened to anyone telling me how I should live my life. Maybe, we have to flail for a long time in order to finally figure things out?

  4. John,

    “Far too many of us are so caught up in our work and everyday lives that we neglect what is most important. Money is necessary, we have to earn a living, however, so many of us are doing largely socially useless work. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you know what you are doing is not creating any real value to the world.”

    Couldn’t agree more with that quote. I was actually just sitting at work earlier today and looking around at my co-workers aimlessly walking from one end of the shop to another, appearing like soulless creatures moving to and fro. It’s like they’re alive but not really living.

    As someone who works at a car dealership I totally relate to this statement. I work around clients with way too much money and driving cars that are a total waste. It’s a shame. But I hope to one day do something wonderful for the world with the cache of wealth and time I’m building right now.

    Best wishes!

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      Good luck on your journey.The world definitely needs more people doing something wonderful.

      I wonder why it’s so hard for people to see that working harder to buy more stuff is not the way to a fulfilling life? So many people seem to only work to consume.

  5. Wan says:

    “You cannot fail if you do what is right because the outcome doesn’t matter. ”
    Well said, John. If we keep doing the things that are right, we will continue doing it until we are lying on our deathbed. If we do something that we think is ‘right’ but can’t fathom the idea of working for it until death, then it is not right enough.

    “I wonder why it’s so hard for people to see that working harder to buy more stuff is not the way to a fulfilling life? So many people seem to only work to consume.”
    It’s damn easy. Like eating – it’s easier to eat a ton of foods but it takes a whole lot of effort to make them. Maybe people had seen it already but to overcome their resistance to change is difficult.

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Wan.

      I agree consumption is definitely the easy choice. It’s too bad that so many people every truly examine their values.

  6. Qiang says:

    “you only have one life and it’s far too short to waste just to be comfortable.” It’s easy to think that way but it is so difficult to leave our comfort zone. However we can alway start doing something meaningful by participating in a volunteering work in your community or give a little help for those who are in need.

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