“I feel lost in life” is surprisingly a familiar sentiment expressed by a lot of people. I have experienced it and so have millions of other men. Despite having vastly different lives, we all know what it means to hear someone say they are lost. Their passion is gone. They have lost their drive. They probably are wondering what the hell they should do with themselves.
This post is about my journey, the journey of some of the men I coach, and what you can do to get your life back together.
Understanding what it means to be lost
A few years ago, I was backpacking across Brazil and ended up in a beautiful, northern city called Maceio. I had never been there before. So, I teamed up with someone from my hostel and went exploring. After our small adventure, we stopped to have a few beers in a bar before heading home.
We weren’t drunk, but we were confused by the buses and ended up boarding the wrong one. It took us in the wrong direction, way out of the city. And by the time we realised, it was too late. We left the bus and looked around for another stop going in the opposite direction, but there were none.
In the end, we tried to hitch a lift from one of the occasional cars heading back to the city. When one did eventually stop, he agreed to drop us in the centre of town. But when we arrived, we realised that we still had no idea where we were. Eventually, someone helped us find an internet café. We searched for directions back to the hotel, and after a long walk, we reached our destination.
Feel lost in life?
What’s the point of my backpacking story? I think it’s a good metaphor for being lost in life. When we are lost, usually we don’t know what direction we should take. We become confused. Things can start off magical, but then despair sets in when we become lost. Sometimes, what we think will help us (like taking the car) doesn’t always help.
This story also shows these feelings aren’t permanent. You can get back on your path with hard work. The minute you give yourself direction, you can start to live purposefully.
A few years ago, I was confused about the career I wanted to pursue. I was paralysed by doubt. I didn’t want to make a mistake and so didn’t take any risks. Eventually, a coach helped to give me direction. I went into mentoring, education and eventually coaching as well.
Below is some advice in helping you find direction and meaning in life.
Society is giving us the wrong goals
The first thing you should know about these feelings is just how common they are. We have been tricked into looking for happiness and fulfilment in the wrong places. Society has turned us into consumers. From a young age, we are taught money and things equal happiness. People in adverts and our friends on social media always look happy with their latest purchases, don’t they? That must be where we find happiness.
Actually, all that comparison to others and their latest purchases is making us unhappy. We work longer and harder in jobs we hate to buy crap we don’t need, which only makes us more unhappy. And the idea that hard work leads to homeownership is nothing but a fairytale.
On top of that, Twitter is turning us into hate-filled monsters. And apps like it have impacted our social lives. We have lost how to make genuine connections to each other. Humans are social creatures. Living in isolation can lead to depression and addiction. So, start making time for friends and family, and you’ll find that you begin to feel better. Don’t shut yourself off from others.
It’s not a surprise lots of people feel lost in life. Those feelings are everywhere. If you are looking for happiness and fulfilment in the wrong place, you need to decide what you will do about it. Will you build a life with passion and purpose? Or will you wallow in the feelings of dread and chase the latest iPhone?
Face the truth
Hold a magnifying glass up to your life and see what is causing you to feel lost. A great coach could help you if you are struggling to find the problem. For example, you might be unhappy with your career, home, family, wife, husband, friends, lifestyle. It could be any number of things. You need to identify it so that you can face it and give your life purpose.
Accept the person you are
Accept the person that you are. Learn to not judge yourself and Let go of any feelings of sadness and anger you have about your present situation.
“All that sadness. All that anger. It is the smoke that gets into your eyes. If you do not blow it away, how can you hope to see?”- Anthony Horowitz.
Once you accept yourself, you bring clarity to your life. Acceptance doesn’t mean you stop trying to change. Actually, it’s the opposite. It will make you try harder. I took responsibility for my life and quit blaming others for what was happening to me. Ultimately, how can you start to find yourself if you don’t first know who you are.
A great way to learn acceptance is through meditation. It helped me accept the things I can’t change and put my energy into what I can. In short, the only thing you can control is your actions at any given moment- learn to accept that. You can’t control how anyone else thinks or what they do.
Regular meditation will also build your self-esteem. I learnt to silence the critical voice in my head and stop listening to the negative people. Furthermore, it can help if you feel lost in life.
If you’re not sure where to start with meditation, explore youtube. There are lots of great meditation sessions, all for free.
Your time is precious
About 15 years ago, I was stuck in a job I hated. There was no chance of career progression, and I had no idea what to do with my life. I wasted years in a job, knowing that it wasn’t suitable for me. I was lost until I saw a Tony Robbins video on YouTube. He said, “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
I had the option to either face what I was unhappy with or accept it because nothing would change without my effort.
Sometimes, it’s not that we feel lost in life. But we think we are wasting our life.
Imagine if you could talk to yourself in 10 years. How would you feel if your future self spoke about being as stuck as you are today? You might hope that one-day things change. However, you know that if you don’t take action at some point, the years will tick by. How long have you already been feeling lost? Is there any guarantee that the future will be different?
Your time is precious, and you have only one shot at life. You have to go out there and do something that fulfils your purpose. You owe it to yourself.
Take action in your life
You are responsible for your life. Hoping that someone will come along and make it better won’t help you. You have to take action and stop running on autopilot if you don’t want to feel lost in life. Lots of people make it to their 30s, 40s and beyond without making any real decisions. And in the end, they waste their potential. Sometimes we need to take a risk.
The only way to make a difference in your life is to act. When we wait for things to happen to us, it causes more stress in our life.
In Stephen Covey’s amazing book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey tells us that successful people are proactive. They take responsibility for their lives. When you are proactive, you get to choose your actions because you have more time to decide. When you are reactive, you end up with fewer options.
To be more proactive, find the things that you have control over and act. It doesn’t matter how small.
Set the goal
So, you know what’s wrong, and you’ve committed yourself to action. Next, you need to set the goal.
This can be hard if you’re not used to setting goals. Usually, goal setting sessions with clients can take at least an hour. Book a coaching session if you would like a session on goal setting. Some free tips for good goal setting:
- Be thorough when setting a goal because a poorly designed goal is like setting no goal.
- Keep it focused on what you want to achieve and not what you are avoiding.
- Make it specific and give the goal a time and place for when you will achieve it.
- Make sure the goal is motivating- It must be something you really want and not something that you kind of want.
- Your goal needs to have actions and not just milestones.
- Your actions should lead to success and not depend on someone else’s effort.
- Write the goal down in the present tense.
My new diet is going great. I am eating healthy every day. I prepare my food at the start of the week so that I have nutritious meals throughout the week. In June, I can fit into my favourite jeans again and weigh 80kg.
Perhaps you feel lost in life because you’re stuck in a dead-end job. I’ve been there. I knew what I didn’t want, but I didn’t know what I did want. The simple solution is to go and do some research. Search different jobs online, speak with friends, recognise your skills and passions. Think about how can you monetise what you are passionate about?
My passion was always about helping others to succeed. I loved mentoring and so went into teaching and later coaching. Your passion is the best place to invest your energy.
What will you do?
When you’ve decided on your goal, you need to know what you will do to achieve it. What commitments are you going to make? Have a plan before you go and attack a goal. Because if you aren’t realistic or don’t decide on steps first, your commitment could falter quite quickly. As a result, You may end up feeling lost all over again.
You have to be clear on what the steps are. In my backpacking story above, I had to decide what I would do to get to my destination. Likewise, you must decide on your actions. Then you can give your life meaning and purpose.
When one of my clients recently set out to make his first short film, he had to commit to writing the script, building a team, seeking funding and more. You have to be clear about what you will do to reach your goal.
Some people believe they don’t have any motivation. In reality, they haven’t set the right goal. When you set a goal you want, motivation will come naturally. You just need to find the thing you are willing to work for. The journey to an aspirational goal is often hard work. Don’t let this put you off.
The journey is more important than the destination. When Neil Armstrong travelled to the moon, he spent only 2 hours of his 76-hour trip outside the capsule. The destination was special, but the journey was so much more. And those 76 hours represented an even more extraordinary journey. It was a journey that took a decade of hard work, new inventions, planning and commitment.
You are on your own journey. With planning, hard work, new discoveries about yourself, and commitment, you can reach your aspirations. However, remember that success is a journey and not a destination. Motivation will come when you fall in love with the work you are doing. Great athletes fall in love with the training. Successful entrepreneurs love running their companies.
“Becoming is better than being.” Carol Dweck
If you want coaching sessions to find your purpose or not feel lost in life, book a free chemistry session today. It will allow us to get to know one another and start working on your goals.