Here’s what I know for sure is NOT the point of life

the point of life

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I can’t tell you the number of times I sat hunched over a desk at some of my old jobs thinking…

“What’s the point of this? What’s the point of this dumb report I’m writing? What’s the point of showing up to all of these countless meetings? What’s the point of staying here until 5:30pm every day?”

And once I headed down that path of questioning … watch out! It quickly spiraled in a dramatic and existential way:

“What’s the deeper meaning of any of this? What’s the point of working at all? This can’t be all, right? What are we all doing here anyway? What’s the purpose of life?

{Told you. That escalated fast. I think I missed my calling as a philosopher.}

I never could come up with a sufficient answer (I mean, come on, that’s only the greatest life mystery of all time), but that never stopped my continued questioning. I wanted to feel like my time, energy, and effort meant something … like I wasn’t wasting all of this time for no good reason. I needed to see the bigger picture.

“WHAT’S THE POINT OF THIS?”

I was coaching a client the other day (let’s call her Maggie, shall we?), and she started down this same familiar line of questioning.

“I used to feel like it was so important to climb the ladder at my company and move up in my career field, but more and more lately I’ve been feeling like, ‘What’s really the point?’”

After that, the conversation quickly turned existential, and we started talking about her bigger life purpose. I asked Maggie, “What does ‘having a purpose’ mean to you?”

She paused for a moment and said, “I want to feel like there’s a reason or meaning behind why I’m here. Having a successful career is great and all, but there’s got to be a bigger point to all of this.”

(Ohhh, how I could relate!)

After years of going down my own rabbit hole of life-purpose questioning, I’d realized that it’s not particularly helpful to ask yourself, “What’s the point of life?” That’s a seriously loaded, inaccessible question, and it’ll stump you every time. There never has been and never will be a single definitive answer. That’s part of the magic and mystery of being human!

So here’s what I asked Maggie instead:

“WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE IS NOT THE POINT?”

She immediately started listing off things that she knows, without a doubt, are NOT the point of her life. Her answers blew me away. Here are a few things on Maggie’s list:

For Maggie, life is definitely NOT about …

  • Checking all of the things off the traditional “life checklist” (you know, the job, the spouse, the kids, the house, the suburbs, the car, the 401K, and on and on…);
  • Working her way up the corporate ladder;
  • Putting in 50-60 hours per week at the office;
  • Having the biggest social network;
  • The image of “success” that she’d always had (as in, the traditional landmarks of a successful career … corner office, C-level title, and all that);
  • And (this was the toughest of all for her to admit) having a career at all. For so long, she’d unconsciously believed that her career was synonymous with her life purpose, but that no longer felt true. She was having this light-bulb moment that her career might just be one way (and not even necessarily the biggest way) for her to express her life purpose. But a job itself could never be her purpose.

After making her list, Maggie immediately felt a huge sense of relief. It was like she finally had permission to NOT care so much about the things she’d always thought were important … the things she assumed she was supposed to want. They were absolutely NOT the point of her life.

The next question I asked Maggie was the most uncomfortable of all. “So if those things definitely aren’t the point of your life … how much energy do you give them on a daily basis?”

“Ughh,” she groaned. “I’ve been acting for a while like those are the most important things, even though I know they’re not. I’m tired of focusing so much of my life around those things.”

IT’S TIME TO REPRIORITIZE

My session with Maggie inspired me to make my own list of what I know is NOT the point of my life. Here’s a snippet of my list:

The point of my life is NOT …

  • Pleasing people
  • Spending my time according to other people’s agenda
  • Making money
  • Playing it safe
  • Being the most “put-together” person I know (that sounds exhausting!)
  • Checking off my daily to-do list tasks
  • Becoming “business famous”
  • Getting to inbox zero
  • Having a traditionally successful career (or really, having a “career” at all, as Maggie so brilliantly stated)

Inherently I know these things aren’t the point of life. And if you asked any random person off the street if “making money” or “pleasing other people” or “climbing the corporate ladder” were the point of life, they’d quickly say, “No way.”

But many of us are not necessarily living accordingly.

The things on this list? These are the kinds of things we tend to get most upset about. These are the things that make us feel bad. These are the things we stress and obsess over, day-in and day-out. These things take up an enormous amount of our brain-space and daily energy.

So now I’m challenging you to do two things:

  1. Make your own list of what’s NOT the point of your life. Then see just how much time, energy, and worry you’re devoting to them on a daily basis.
  2. Give yourself permission to let these things go. Maybe that means reprioritizing your time and energy. Perhaps that means lettings some things go permanently. Or maybe it just means no longer spending SO much time stressing and worrying about the things on this list.

It’s such a relief to deeply realize, “These things are NOT the point. I can release them.”

twitter-bird When you know for sure what’s NOT the point of your life, you can finally feel free.

Did this resonate with you today? What’s on your list of what’s NOT the point of your life? Leave a comment to let me know!

Much Love,

Kristen (& Rachel)


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22 Comments // ADD COMMENT

22 comments

  • Bridget

    Thank you for this blog Clarity on Fire. We do focus on things that are not the point of life everyday and we as a society are not making it easy either. I’m going to make my own list and just let it go. I wake up everyday with a headache because i worry about unimportant things. After reading your blog, I’m going to teach myself not to worry so much about things that are NOT point of life and just try and enjoy each day as it comes. Keep up the good work and i’m looking forward to your next blog.

    • Kristen Walker

      Bridget, you’re so right! Letting go of the everyday, unimportant stressors has become almost an act of courage and rebelliousness because it’s not the norm in our society. Constant stress, worry, and anxiety (even over minor things that are definitely NOT the point of life) has become commonplace for most people, but that absolutely does NOT need to include you! I’m happy to hear that you’re making your own list and intend to let those things go so you can refocus on what’s REALLY important. Who knows, you might become an example that could inspire someone else in your life to do the same!

  • Jobin Joseph

    From some days I was not happy with my life. I was in dilemma, what is going on, why am I feeling like that? What is the actual problem with it? Now I know how to find the problem with solution. Thank you for your article. Its a good way to find the value of life.

  • Madelaine

    Having the perfect athletic body at the age of 40…that is NOT the point of life.

    Thanks girls. This was sooo relevant today

    • Kristen Walker

      Yes!! In fact, I’d say having the perfect athletic body at any age is NOT the point of life. Adding this to my own list. 😉

  • Lola

    YES YES AND YES, ALL OF THIS!!!!

    Also,

    Not being Instagram famous
    Not having perfect makeup or hair
    Not having a 6 pack or looking as for as Jillian Michaels. It works for her, but all these things and all the things on Maggie’s list – they are being released and are NOT the point of my life!!!

    I so love this blog, keep up the great work Rachel & Kristin!!!

    • Kristen Walker

      100% YES to every single one of these! It’s time to release allll of these things. (And if the point of life were to look like Jillian Michaels, I’d be seriously screwed! Lol)

      Thanks for sharing your list, Lola!

  • Eric

    still lost on this topic of what is really true for me

    • Kristen Walker

      Figuring out what’s really true for you is definitely not an overnight thing, but it seems like you’re on the right track of questioning what matter most to you. Thanks for reading, Eric!

  • Ml stockwell

    I am 78 … Still working and still trying to find out what the point is!!!!

    • Kristen Walker

      This is absolutely something that SO many people struggle with, regardless of age or where you’re at in life! It’s worth asking yourself, “What’s NOT the point of my life” no matter what stage you’re at in your career. The answer is always revealing!

  • Par's Picks - February 2016 - My Inner Shakti

    […] Here is what I know for sure is not the point of life via Clarity on Fire – This post is one I think everyone should read ASAP!  In fact, I was so inspired that I started a list of “things I know for sure aren’t the point of life” and plan to share in an upcoming post.  If nothing else, this will give you some food for thought and a different perspective on the more common question, “What is the point of life?”  One that is much harder to answer. […]

  • What is NOT the point of life? - My Inner Shakti

    […] stated so perfectly in this Clarity on Fire post, I often find myself getting stuck in the daily grind and then eventually asking what is the point […]

  • PC

    Love this! Thanks for reposting. I’m constantly questioning the purpose of life and I frequently exclaim that humans are not meant to sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer all day! This, of course, is prompted out of utter frustration because it’s what I’ve been doing for years. I’ve told my boss directly that I’m not interested in climbing the corporate ladder. This may not always be well received, as perception is often reality in the workplace. It doesn’t mean that I’m lazy or lack ambition, I just hold different values. Recognize!

    • Kristen Walker

      Amen! I love that you straight-up told your boss that you’re not interested in climbing the corporate ladder. No use in pretending you want something that will never be a good fit for you. It takes courage to be that honest — with yourself AND other people — and it also takes a lot of questioning of your purpose and your values and your priorities. Glad to meet a fellow questioner! 😉

  • PC

    Well, I owe it to you and Rachel! I’m a fellow PPVE-er and you’ve both been a huge inspiration. Something amazing happens when you can make even the slightest shift in perspective. I’m finally starting to honor myself, be open to opportunities, and care less about what others think. It doesn’t happen overnight, but bit by bit, I continue to grow and it’s incredibly freeing. Thanks for being awesome!

    • Kristen Walker

      Wow, thank you so much for that. You absolutely made my day! It makes me so happy to hear that you’re stepping more and more into who you are — and you’re right, it’s SUCH a freeing experience. The fact that Rachel and I could be even a small part of your growth means the world. ♥

  • Marianne

    One of the other commenters mentioned the misperception of people who don’t want to climb the corporate ladder as lacking ambition. I was just going to say it reminds me of the thriver profile in your passion profile quiz. That one seemed to be the one where people value other things outside of their career more than their career itself. I also like that you guys have destigmatized it by saying that it isn’t wrong for someone’s job to be “just a job” and for them to get fulfillment elsewhere. I think it took a while for me to come around to understand that. But where things get tricky is when what you do for a job (okay, I’ll say what I do for a job) isn’t sufficient to support myself financially. (I tutor kids with dyslexia, autism, ADHD). There are outside voices that say “are you really gonna let yourself be poor your whole life and dependent on having a roommate?” and “you should be trying to improve your situation” and that’s when I feel caught because it seems like “improving my situation” does become the point of life. But I guess to be clearer, it feels like that is a goal that is simultaneous with my passions that I have outside of work (like reading for pleasure, watching movies and tv (but not the mindless kind, the engaging kind that makes me think). Another thing that I’m tackling right now is overcoming an eating disorder which I’m in therapy for. I mention this in my discussion about the point of life too because I think being healthy is so important. And I’m curious to understand how the pathology came about in me and how to cross the bridge that will get me to the healthy side. When I envision my future, I imagine either overcoming that obstacle and somehow incorporating it into my life via helping others who face the same thing or just simply getting better myself and continuing to do what I do for work now but in a better physical and mental state. Overall, I think one constant thing that will always be the point of life for me is continuous learning. Taking in new ideas. That’s what makes me feel alive.

    • Kristen Walker

      Hi Marianne– Really great comparison to our “Thriver” Passion Profile! Yes, for a lot of people, their career is definitely NOT the point of their life. It’s one aspect, sure, but not the end-all, be-all. And it sounds like that’s where you fall, which is totally normal!

      I loved hearing your realizations about a couple of your top life values: health (physical, mental, emotional, and all of it) and continuous learning/curiosity. While none of us may know THE POINT OF LIFE, I think it’s safe to say that these things are (at least in-part) the point of YOUR life. And anything that helps support those things — whether it’s a job that allows you to live a healthy lifestyle or a passion project that lets your curiosity run wild — are things worth prioritizing in your life.

      Thank you so much for sharing how this post resonated with you and the deep thoughts it spurred within you!

  • Victoria

    Having a horrible day and started cleaning out my email inbox and came across this blog post. Immediately, I could relate to constantly asking myself questions about life and its meaning. I often say “surely there is more to life than this”. This post helped me to realize why I never feel fulfilled at work. I haven’t found a job yet that I am actually happy to do. I never really gave it much thought because I have to pay the bills and I have someone depending on me. The truth is I can agree that deep down inside I know I can never find self-worth and divine peace in a job. I am looking for deeper fulfillment in a place I can never find it.

    • Kristen Walker

      Victoria — I’m glad this post was what you needed to hear today, based on how you’ve been feeling! And you’re right that self-worth and divine peace aren’t things that can come from any external place (a job, or anything else). They’re an inside job. Seems to me like you have a lot of self-awareness already, and you’re well on your way to building that deeper fulfillment, even if it’s a slower process than you might like. You’re on the right track!

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