Attempting to find purpose in life is as natural as breathing for many of us. It’s what’s driven us to explore the moon, make art, develop medicine, and connect with one another. For many of us — especially millennials, who officially make up the greatest percentage of the working population in the U.S. — it’s easy to default to finding purpose in our careers. After all, we’re told to go to school so we can get good jobs and then hustle, hustle, hustle as if that’s the end-all, be-all to happiness.
The problem is, making work our primary fulfillment in life is dangerous business. You can get let go from a job. In some cases, you can lose the ability to even do your job. Maybe you wake up one day and realize you’re simply not satisfied with your work anymore. What then?
If none of that happens and you’re happy with your job forever, that’s great! But even for the most career-driven among us, there has to be more to life than work. There’s a principle in investing called diversification. Investopedia defines diversification as “a technique that reduces risk by allocating investments across various financial instruments, industries, and other categories.”
Basically, diversification keeps you from losing everything if you lose one thing. It can also be the golden ticket to optimal returns because there’s a chance everything will go very right at once, providing you with all the benefits you’d get if one investment was flourishing, plus however many investments you have out there.
So, how can you apply diversification to your life and find purpose that has nothing to do with work? Of course, you can simply focus more on familial relationships, hobbies, social interaction, and more. But if you want to truly solidify a diversified sense of purpose rather than just doing a lot of other things, here are some tips:
The first step to diversifying your purpose is identifying the areas of life that are most important to you. Harvard Business Review recommends an excellent exercise* that can (very methodically) help you take stock of relationships with the greatest impact on your fulfillment and then shift critical behaviors to accentuate that sense.
Realize You Don’t Have to Have It All Figured Out
When dealing with something as important as our very purpose in life it can be really easy to get frustrated when we’re not getting it. It might seem like everyone else has a purpose, but realize that your path is different than that of literally every person around you. It might be slower or more indirect than you want it to be — and that’s OK! Focus on the small victories, which leads to our next point…
See (and Celebrate) the Moments You Feel Most Fulfilled
Have you ever been doing something totally random and thought, “Wow, I feel amazing right now”? Lean into those moments. Be present. Do a quick mind-and-body scan. How does your head feel? Your arms? Your stomach? Your legs? What’s your state of mind? Who’s around you? Even in seemingly insignificant moments, answering those questions may be the key that unlocks the door to long-term fulfillment.
Create Opportunities for Small Transitions
It’s not news that humans feel satisfied when we accomplishing things. We’re not talking like, winning the gold in the Olympics or becoming the next Beyoncé. Something as small as doing the dishes, running an errand you’ve been putting off, moving your body, or calling your grandma to check in are also accomplishments.
When we only have one avenue by which to feel a sense of achievement (like work), that sense can grow stale. By contrast, change stretches us. It may be uncomfortable, but life transitions are often the most effective way to create long-standing fulfillment.
Create opportunities in your everyday life to challenge yourself, whether it be your habits, your perception of the world, your relationships. Intentionally shake things up every once in a while, and don’t forget to be gentle with yourself in the process!
Here’s wishing you a full, purposeful life. Do you have any tips on finding purpose beyond your career? Let us know in the comments below!
xx, The FabFitFun Team
*Refer to the section titled, “Shift just one activity to create diverse purpose-generating interactions.”