To study the meaning of life, I want to share with you a powerful quote by John Gardner that has had a lot of meaning of life. He says:

Meaning is not something that you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize to a treasure hunt. Meaning is something that you build in your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind, as it is passed to you, out of your own talents and understanding out of things you believe in, out of the things and people that you love, out of the values for which you will sacrifice something.

The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into the unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.

John Gardner, Living The Questions

I unfortunately have no way of knowing if have hit rock bottom. Or if everything is going great, and you merely want it to be the best imaginable life that can be. You no doubt want to grow and expand your horizons. It is human nature to want to live the best lives we can as there is always more that we can have do become and give back.

Meaning of Life Magic

The thing is, the real magic begins with you. Like isn’t about finding yourself so much as it is about creating yourself. Creating a meaningful life is an action verb through conscious action, and baby steps of walking our talk to reach our dreams one day at a time. We all think of ways that we could live more freely, amazing dreams to pursue, but it’s the precious few who get off the couch to lace up their boots for the track. You are just that person. Don’t wait. Create. As Will Rogers once said, even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you are just sitting there.

Take it step by step

There is that famous quote by Lao Tzu who said that “the journey of 1000 miles begins with just one single step”. And I think this message is really an especially lrelevant one these days. You know, so many prominent authors from Timothy Ferriss, to James Altucher are preaching this message in one form or another, whether they call it lifestyle design or something else. The idea behind it is a really, really powerful one. I believe that too many people treat life as a prefix menu. They come in and life’s maître d’ tells them what awaits them:

  • One, go to school.
  • Two get into a good university.
  • Three, get a job in a stable company.
  • Four meet a partner.
  • Five, have kids.
  • Six, move around a few times in your career, but of course, not too much.
  • Seven, retire with all the money you saved up, play with your grandkids, and travel once a year.
Studying The Meaning of Life

And though this menu definitely works for many people, I have a few problems with it. First, I think it reflects a reality that just no longer exists. Just for example, getting a degree isn’t necessarily a prerequisite, or a guarantee of job security in the modern economy, not to mention the fact that alternative family structures are more common and more accepted than ever before.

But my biggest problem with this narrative is that life isn’t a prefix. It’s à la carte. Who says you have to do any of those steps if you don’t want to?

What if you want to have a few different jobs or you want to be a freelancer?

What if you don’t want to wait till retirement age to travel and you prefer to take mini retirements once or twice a year while you’re young?

What if you have an incredible idea for a startup? And you prefer to pursue that than a degree? What if the ideas of marriage or children just don’t appeal to you?

The point to take home.

Does skipping any of these items of the menu make your life any less meaningful or successful? Of course it doesn’t. And so personally, I hope that this is one of the biggest takeaways that you’ll learn and it’s one of the most important things that I’ve learned. Your life is yours to create, and your lifestyle is yours to design.

Like any talented artists, you can take inspiration from anyone else you choose, incorporating bits and pieces from hundreds of different sources in creating your unique mosaic. So as you go throughout life, please remember, don’t wait for that maître d’ to bring you what’s next on the prefix menu.

This life is à la carte.