How To Improve Your Life By Discovering Your Why
We live in a world filled by constant distractions. There are unlimited activities floating around us at all times that can take our attention, and often the ones that scream the loudest win. A simple way to improve your life is to discover your personal why.
Most people live their lives by focusing on what they have to do. The endless tasks continue to mount up, and we wonder why we never feel like we’re getting ahead. It feels like we’re sprinting on a treadmill just trying to keep up, and every task completed is quickly replaced by new ones.
Life gets a lot simpler when we stop to ask ourselves why we do things.
What Is The Purpose Of Your Life?
Now this is not some big esoteric question that you will ponder for a lifetime. It’s really just something that you decide for yourself and can change at any time. What is the list of things that are most important to you in your life?
I find it helps to write down things that you really love doing. Maybe it’s spending time with friends and family, doing a particular hobby, your job, or traveling. The answers are going to be different for every single person reading.
What’s important… is what’s important to you. It’s very hard to improve your life if you don’t know what improvement actually looks like for you personally.
Refining Your List Of Priorities
Once you have your initial list, you want to look at what’s really important to you. You do that by asking yourself why you love it and why it’s important to have it in your life. I’ve been doing this exercise over the last 3 years and found that my list got more and more refined as I went.
You also want to look at how much time you put into these activities that you love. Do you get to spend as much time as you’d like with each one, or do they get pushed to the back behind the other tasks in your daily life?
Discovering What’s Really Important
If you made another list of all the things you are actually doing in your life, then you’ll probably find a bunch of things you don’t really love. Some people may hate cooking and others will love it. Everyone is unique, and this is about finding out what you want to be doing… not what you feel you should be doing.
It’s easy to fill our lives up with things that don’t really matter to us. The trick is to ask ourselves how we spend less time doing unimportant things and more time doing the things we love. It’s not a perfect process where you can drop everything right now, but as you focus from this point on, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Always Ask Why
Whenever a new item comes across your plate, you simply ask yourself why. Is it really important to join that new committee for your child’s school or would it be more effective to actually spend that time with your children instead? Does it matter if you miss your gym time at lunch because your boss needs you to work overtime or is your fitness break more important to you?
As I said before, everybody will be different. Some will rank career over fitness and other’s will rank it in reverse. What matters is that you’re making the choice that is right for you.
It May Sound Simple… But That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy
Our world is full of expectations that are placed on us by others… and also by ourselves. We’re expected to be super people that run around and accomplish a myriad of different things every day to be great at work and at home. People will often look at you strangely when they ask you how you are and you don’t answer with “busy” with that frantic look in your eye.
However, once you start examining your life through the lens of why, you’ll start asking yourself, “What’s important to me?” You need to step away from society’s expectations and start focusing on and refining your own expectations instead. When you do this, you’ll see the world from an entirely different viewpoint and be free to improve your life in any area that really matters to you.
It can be easy to run through the maze of life without pausing to think of its meaning. Does what I’m doing matter?
Does what I’m doing matter?
More importantly, does it matter to me?
Feeling that what you’re doing has a real purpose and meaning that matters to you can make a huge difference in your life. It makes getting up each day the most exciting thing in the world. You can’t wait to get started. Forget trying to force yourself to work hard, it becomes more important to remind yourself to take breaks to eat!
But how can we cultivate a more meaningful life? The answer is usually complicated. It can depend on many factors. I’ve written down 10 ideas that I believe will help you find meaning in your life every day, so that you can’t wait to get up in the morning and see what the day will bring.
1. Know What’s Important
Know what’s important for you. Write down your top 5 things that you believe are the essence of how you want to live life. This can include things like “family time,” or “sing every day.” It could also include more complex ideas, like “honesty” and “simplicity.”
2. Pursue Your Passion
I believe everyone should pursue their passion in life. It’s what makes life worth living, and gives our lives true meaning and purpose. Each time you work on something you love, it creates joy inside you like nothing else. Finding a way to use your passions to give back to the world will give your life ultimate meaning.
If you can’t manage (or aren’t ready) to work on your passion for a living, be sure and make time for it every day. By working on your passion and becoming an expert in it, you will eventually have the opportunity to make money from it. Be ready to seize that opportunity!
3. Discover Your Life’s Purpose
If you had to give yourself a reason to live, what would it be? What would you stand for? What principles do you hold highest? Is your life’s purpose to help others? Is it to inspire others with great works of art, or you words? Finding your life’s purpose is a daunting task, and when I first heard the idea, I had no idea where to start. For methods on discovering your life’s purpose, I recommend Steve Pavlina’s blog entries on the subject. I also recommend reading the article What Makes Life Worth Living.
4. Be Self-Aware
Be aware of yourself and your actions. Remain mindful of what you do at all times, and make sure you are living life according to your principles, your life’s purpose, and what you are passionate about. Review your actions each day, taking stock of those that strayed from your path. Work towards correcting any incidents in the future. Meditation is a great tool for accomplishing this task. It helps us increase our self-awareness throughout the day.
Rather than chasing 3 or 4 goals and making very little progress on them, place all of your energy on one thing. Focus. Not only will you alleviate some of the stress associated with trying to juggle so many tasks, you will be much more successful. Try and align your goal with something you are passionate about, so that there will be an intrinsic drive to work hard and do well.
6. People More Than Things
Often, we are faced with wanting to buy material goods. I recommend you consider carefully what you purchase, and think more about spending your money on experiences with friends and family. Not only will this give deeper meaning to your life by focusing on your relationships rather than material wealth, but you will be a happier person as a result.
7. Live With Compassion
Both for yourself, and others. Keep in mind the following quote:
"One must be compassionate to one's self before external compassion" – Dalai Lama
For some, compassion is the purpose of life, what gives it meaning, and what leads to ultimate happiness.
8. Find a Way to Give Back
Do something that both honors your beliefs and passions, while giving something back to the world. By giving something back, we inevitably find purpose in the act. By cultivating more of these activities, you will find your life has more meaning and purpose behind it.
9. Simplify Your Life
By simplifying your life, you’ll have more time to do what fulfills you and gives your life meaning. It can also help reduce stress and make your overall life easier to manage. It can also greatly improve your productivity. If you’ve never tried to simplify things before, it really is a great feeling.
10. Set Daily Goals
In the morning, before you start your day, create a list of 3 goals that you find fulfilling and meaningful. Make sure they adhere to your set of principles and beliefs. Tackle the hardest things first! Don’t make this list too long. By placing too many things on the list, you’ll feel the urge to multi-task, which is not good, or you’ll feel overwhelmed, which isn’t good either. By trying to do less, you’ll end up doing more.
Doing all of these things at once may seem daunting, but you can pick one thing at a time and slowly incorporate the ideas into your life. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Living a life of purpose gives both fulfillment and meaning to your journey.