Why do I feel like there is no meaning in my life? Get expert advice from coaching veteran, Eric Maisel on “how to find your purpose in life?” pulled from his newest book “Life Purpose Boot Camp: The 8-Week Breakthrough Plan for Creating a Meaningful life?
How to find your purpose in life?
In this interview, Eric Maisel, a creativity coach shares his secrets of finding your life purpose. The following blog posts take short excerpts from Eric’s book “Life Purpose Boot Camp”.
What is the purpose of life? What is my purpose in life?
“There is no one meaning of life but rather a multitude of subjective life meanings, and there is no one purpose to life but rather a multitude of subjective life purposes”- p9
Common challenges with the Traditional Definitions of Life Purpose
Traditionally, we view our life purpose as the main reason we’re brought here on earth to do. Often times, our purpose is viewed as unchangeable, a fixed assignment that we are bound to. In addition to that, we tend to perceive our purpose as something that is void of what is happening in the marketplace.
In his book, Eric touches on the challenge of viewing our life purpose through a traditional lens. He uses the example of knowing that your purpose in life may be to build bridges, yet despite your efforts, things don’t seem to materialize in the manner that they should. This may be because your life purpose and the facts of existence are out of alignment.
Another common problem is having a genuine sense of your life purpose but then realizing that it doesn’t make you happy. For example, you deeply want to write poetry for pleasure but you don’t find it satisfying as an occupation. A slightly different variation of this scenario is finding your life purpose but finding over time, that purpose changed. Maybe, you initially found a deep passion for science and enjoyed practicing in that field, but 20 years down the line, you began to find it more draining than enjoyable.
10 common misunderstandings about life purpose
Eric shares his thoughts on what life purpose is and is not:
We are evolved creatures, not designed by God. If we were designed with some life purpose in mind, we would need to know what that purpose was so we could live in alignment with it.
Instead of seeking a life purpose, we must decide what interests us. Life purpose is not given to us – it’s a decision.
If you don’t decide to have life purposes, you will not have them.
Life purpose is a decision to honor something as more important than anything else.
Finding your life purpose is a painstaking process and it may lead you through a maze of false starts, contradictions, and confusions, but the end result is worth it.
Life purpose is the decision you make (intention). Meaning is the experience you achieve (outcome).
You can’t guarantee the experience of meaning. It’s about trying to create a meaning opportunity.
You can be living your life purposes even if on one given day you are not experiencing life as meaningful (e.g.- licking stamps for nonprofit work).
Both your intentions (your life purposes) and your experiences (feeling meaning) are important. Both must be kept in mind. Your goal is to take responsibility for creating in your life by investing time in your values (making-meaning investments), and principles.
Naming your values is one thing, but you must live them. If there are obstacles in your way (e.g- drug addiction), then these obstacles become part of your life purpose too.
What is meaning?
Eric distinguishes two ways in which we feel meaning. One of which is the significance of looking into the night sky and gazing at the stars. To some, that feels meaningful. This, however, is different than making meaningful choices in life because that type of decision-making is primarily rooted in our values and principles. As such, Eric emphasizes the idea of value-based meaning, which is when we make decisions and choices in our life that bring meaning versus hoping that meaning will just come along by happenstance.
How can I make my life more meaningful?
“Meaning is something we can aim for and try to create by investing our time, energy, and human resources in a given effort, activity, initiate, or way of being. It is also something that we can wish for by seizing some meaning opportunity, crossing our fingers, and hoping for the best. By making meaning investments (invest time in activities that are meaningful) and by seizing meaning opportunities we actively organize our day around making meaning. The first step is to make a list of things that feel meaningful to you (e.g.- creating, relationships, service, relaxing, specific activities, events, or states of being ”practice loving kindness”). Start creating a day or week where you include items from this menu of meaningful experiences. When you prioritize and make these investments every day feels meaningful”.p21
“Your goal, if you would like to live authentically and in alignment with your life purpose, is to make sufficient meaning and to have that meaning arise from and support your values”. P36.
“Many people who intend to do the right thing often find themselves supporting choices that they do not value or that they even actively detest”. P 38
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When should you make a career change? How long does it take to retool and try another career?
Even after meaning has drained out of our previous career, it can take up to six years to make a change, mainly because our fears keeps us motionless.
Should I pick a career in the arts?
Eric Maisel shares the advice he gives his clients who are part of his creative coaching program.
Are you thinking of switching careers or about to enter college and would like to major in the arts? The biggest concern with a career in arts is making ends meet. Often times it requires living two lives, keeping your day job to pay rent and having a side job related to your true passion. In addition to the onus of performing at two jobs, many who choose this path don’t realize that they have the additional pressure of being creative and engaging in daily routines that keep those creative juices flowing. VIDEO: http://youtu.be/nwc5IGTg0VE
What is a realistic expectation for life as an artist?
Eric shares that he’s spoken with creative people that have spent years writing a novel only to find that half of their work was not well received. Eric forewarns that even someone with successes (e.g- Tolstoy who took 40 years to write a book after Anna Karenina) doesn’t produce great work on a consistent basis.
Why is it important to continue even if you don’t get success initially?
It’s hard to take a break in between projects because it may lead to an extended period off from doing anything creative.
What should I choose? a high paying technical job or a creative job that I love?
It’s about choices. Should you spend 10 years doing ineffective day jobs or squander away years at a high paying job you’re not enjoying? Eric suggests doing various paid work until a larger opportunity transpires, like freelance, editing or commercial writingor finding a job where you can combine both talents in one job (e.g.- commercial artist)
What skills do I need to be successful in creative work? Writing is just part of the equation.
In addition to writing or creating art, you must also market and promote your work. Those that aren’t willing to put in the time to learn how to promote and market themselves may have a harder time transforming it into a lucrative career.
Author and Creativity Coach Eric Maisel
Dr. Eric Maisel is the author of more than 40 books. His interests include creativity and the creative life, the field of creativity coaching which he founded, and natural psychology, the new psychology of meaning that he has recently been developing.
Dr. Maisel’s recent books include Life Purpose Boot Camp (New World Library, 2014), Settled (Motivational Press, 2014),Secrets of a Creativity Coach (Motivational Press, 2014), Why Smart People Hurt(Conari Press, 2013), Making Your Creative Mark (New World Library, 2013),Natural Psychology: The New Psychology of Meaning (Natural Psychology Press, 2012) Rethinking Depression (New World Library, 2012), Mastering Creative Anxiety (New World Library, 2011), and (with his wife Ann Maisel) Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions (New World Library, 2010).
His books for creative and performing artists include Fearless Creating,Coaching the Artist Within, The Van Gogh Blues, The Creativity Book, Affirmations for Artists, Performance Anxiety, Write Mind, Deep Writing, A Writer’s Space, A Writer’s Paris, A Writer’s San Francisco, and Creativity for Life.
Visit here for a complete description of Dr. Maisel’s books, including readers’ and reviewers’ comments and purchase information.
Dr. Maisel, widely regarded as America’s foremost creativity coach, maintains a coaching practice, trains creativity coaches, and provides core trainings for the Creativity Coaching Association. For more information about his individual services please visit here and for more information about his creativity coaching trainings please visit here.
Dr. Maisel leads workshops nationally and internationally. He presents at workshop centers like Omega, Kripalu, Esalen, Hollyhock, and Rowe, at events like the Paris Writers Workshop, conferences of organizations like Romance Writers of America and the American Psychological Association, and sponsored events in venues like San Francisco, New York, London, Paris and Berlin. To learn more about his workshops, please visit here. Workshops can be tailored to the needs of your group or organization. If you would like a workshop tailored to your needs, please contact Dr. Maisel at firstname.lastname@example.org