Meaning can be elusive, like a fleeting glimpse that keeps seeming just out of reach.
How do you find it and hold onto it?
The fact is that meaning is more of a process and an activity than a prize or plateau any of us can reach.
But it is true that some people have much more inner fulfillment and meaningful lives than others.
A major key in this is in what they cut out of their lives. If you want more meaning in your life, say goodbye to these habits as well.
Putting things off until tomorrow eventually leads to running out of tomorrows.
Everyone I know including myself sometimes procrastinates, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
But make a New Year’s resolution (it’s not too late!) to be more action-oriented and less accepting of excuses you make to yourself.
Taking time to relax is important, but it can definitely go too far.
When you chillmax too often it can turn into a bad habit, sapping motivation from your day and making each week blend into the other.
This eventually becomes years: years you could have been pursuing your goals.
“Chillmax is a state of complete relaxation and maximum chill. It is the ultimate level of being cool, calm, and collected, without any worries or stress.”
3) Trend chasing
There are some trends worth paying attention to and others which only waste your time.
But the habit of chasing trends and trying to copy them is always disempowering.
It makes you the servant of running after validation and popularity from the outside, pursuing some imagined approval or popularity that could come from following a great new fad.
It eventually just leads to more emptiness.
4) Approval-seeking behavior
The habit of chasing approval often has roots in early childhood and not getting the love and attention you deserved.
The problem with seeking approval is that it tends to create the opposite effect:
People get more hesitant about interacting with you and including you, and you start feeling even more needy to know you’re truly valuable.
The cycle only tends to go downwards from there.
5) Social media overuse
Social media is full of people posting their best selves, arguing with strangers and gossipping.
It can lead to feelings of jealousy, alienation and loneliness.
It can also leave you feeling inadequate and like you need to chase interaction and validation.
How many followers do you even have? This ceases to be a meaningful question when you have real meaning in your life.
6) Material intoxication
Material wealth and possessions can clearly provide some measure of happiness and satisfaction, but at a certain point they can actually do the opposite.
Having things as an accompaniment to meaningful relationships and goals in your life is great.
Having things as a substitute for deeper meaning in your life is a disillusioning and depressing experience.
7) High expectations
It’s very hard to find meaning when you approach life with high expectations.
The key to efficacy is to have moderate or low expectations combined with extremely high work ethic and action-oriented plans.
When you don’t expect much but you work hard, great things happen.
If you find that there’s not a lot of meaning in your life, do your best to scrap expectations and beliefs about what should be the case and focus more on what is the case.
8) Constant comparison
Comparing yourself to others is inevitable at times, but it shouldn’t become a habit.
The end result is that you feel you’re further behind and get stuck with disempowering feelings of jealousy and unworthiness.
Rather than feeling you’re doing fine when you see folks struggling and realizing you have a lot going right and a lot to give, you look around at those who seem to be doing better than you and feel a sense of lack.
Jealousy is the inevitable result of spending too much time in comparison, as you find those with what seem like more meaningful lives and resent it.
9) Excessive self-criticism
This goes hand-in-hand with too much comparison and is a bad habit that seeps meaning from life:
Blaming yourself too much.
A lot of what happens is out of our control, and self-blame can become a self-destructive attempt to regain some sense of order in life.
But not everything is your fault, in fact maybe very little is your fault. Base your life on going forward from a firm foundation rather than doubting your value.
10) Staying stuck in the past
Staying stuck in the past is dangerous and saps your attention from the present.
It’s like driving while looking the whole time in your rearview mirror:
You miss what’s right in front of you and can have a very nasty accident.
Pain and experiences from the past can hold valuable lessons, but make sure the past doesn’t become the master of your present.
11) Adopting the victim narrative
We’ve all been treated unfairly by others at times and victimized by events which happened in our lives.
Some of us have certainly been victimized more than others.
But adopting the victim mindset and the victim narrative is still a choice. While it may lead to more sympathy and attention (at least in the short-term), it’s also ultimately a self-defeating choice.
You start to take too much of your own medicine and genuinely believe that you’re the biggest victim in history and that life owes you one.
The problem is that screaming “it’s not fair” tends to only result in people avoiding you, rather than getting what you want.
12) Getting lost in a social role
Our social roles can end up being a deceptive mask.
I’m not saying that being “the good wife” or “the supportive work colleague” is a bad thing or necessarily insincere.
But none of us can be fully defined by only one aspect of ourselves and one social role we play.
Get rid of the habit of defining yourself in one simplistic way.
You’re a complex being with many sides to you, and your life will become more meaningful as you shed the need to be easily defined or understood by the majority of people.
13) Staying in your comfort zone
A lot of your best growth happens when you least expect it and you’re uncomfortable and under pressure.
Staying too long in your comfort zone can lead to complacency and inertia.
The solution is to find some way to motivate yourself into your discomfort zone where you are pushed a little bit more to ask more of yourself and do more with your life.
That’s when real meaning starts to show up in a big way.
14) Dismissing your spiritual needs
Spirituality and religion matter, and it’s good to get rid of the habit of downplaying your spiritual needs.
These things are important for your wellbeing and for your overall sense of clarity and guidance in life.
Whatever path works for you, avoid the habit of hiding from your spiritual side.
Eventually these needs are going to reassert themselves, and no matter what meaning you find it won’t mean a heck of a lot without a spiritual aspect.
15) Dating out of need instead of desire
Deciding to go out with someone should be something you actually want, rather than doing so because you see no other option.
Far too many people end up getting involved out of a desire for company, intimacy or a relationship, rather than any particular attraction.
This is the wrong basis for a relationship, which should be chosen and voluntary.
Lost Your Sense of Purpose?
In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.
Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.
Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.
With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.
Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.