How to Find Purpose After a Hard Fall in Life
Have you ever had any thoughts on reshuffling, reprioritizing, or finding new purpose in life? Then you’re not alone. Even I’ve asked myself, is it worth it anymore.
When I hear what has happened to some people in life, my heart immediately goes out to them. So what should we do if we’re going through a tough phase in life?
1) Give yourself space to grieve, to heal
Firstly, I’m not going to tell you that what doesn’t break you will make you stronger.
Instead I’m going to tell you to grieve and take some time out for yourself first. Our society today is very much about doing. Do, do, do. Move on. Get over things. Get over yourself.
Yet we are humans, not robots. When we fall we need time to heal and climb back up. When we have an emotional fall the wounds may not be visible, but they cut so much deeper than physical wounds. Trying to “move on” when we are still hurting and feeling lost not only hurts us, but may cut us deeper and leave us more broken.
I recommend to journal your darkest feelings. Pour your heart out on paper. Talk to your loved ones and share your pain. Spend some time alone, by yourself. If you are working, take a few days of no-pay leave (if you don’t have paid leave left) to rest and get a timeout. Work can continue for a while without you. But you, you need time to rest, recuperate, and heal, before stepping forward.
2) Think about the things that matter
Maybe you feel lost because you have been working so hard on something that amounted to nothing. Maybe you just lost your job. Maybe your marriage ended in shambles. Maybe your business is not doing well. Maybe you just lost a loved one.
In these darkest of times, think about the things and people that matter. Your partner. Your passion. Your beliefs. The people you care about, whom you’ve touched. Your children, if you have any.
And then there’s someone you may have forgotten. Your higher self. He (She) has always been there with you, quietly watching you, comforting you. He (She) has been with you through everything and wrapped his (her) hands around you and tightly hugged you in times of pain, even when you thought you were alone.
3) Reflect on your future
When you’re ready, and only when you’re ready, think about your life ahead. As you stand and see your life before you, what do you wish to do moving forward?
For example, 5 years from now, what do you wish to see in your life?
• Do you want to start a family, if you don’t have one yet?
• Do you want to work on a new career?
• Do you want to run your business or start a new one if your previous business failed?
• If you’re single, do you want to be married or be in a relationship?
• Where do you see yourself living? Do you want to be living in the same country or elsewhere?
• What do you want to be doing?
Doing this envisioning exercise is about getting clarity of what you want. Defining a direction that you care about. This direction can be the exact same one you were working on before. It can be a similar direction to what you were doing before but altered based on your new priorities in life. It can be a totally different one. Take this as a good timeout to think about what you want vs. just going through the motions.
The most important thing is to know that there is no right or wrong answer, only what matters to you.
4) Start to pick up the pieces
When you return to life after a hard fall, it may feel disjointing. You may do X but think about Y. You may feel like you are at a loss. You may feel distanced, like you are far away from the things you are doing even though you are trying to move full steam ahead.
Start with the things you enjoy and that give you meaning. What did you enjoy doing before? Start with these.
• Maybe you enjoyed writing. Start writing a few articles. Pen down your deepest feelings. Write not for others, but for yourself.
• Maybe you liked going for walks with your partner. Add this to your routine.
• Maybe you liked watching movies. Pick a few new releases and watch them.
• Maybe you liked to travel. Plan your next vacation. Or go for a quick weekend getaway.
• Maybe you enjoyed volunteering, which you find purposeful as you help out individuals in need. Go for some volunteer work that you care about.
• Maybe you liked to work as working keeps your mind moving and your work allows you to do very meaningful stuff. Take on projects that inspires you the most, that get to create the most impact.
The goal is to reintroduce the things you liked about your life back into your routine, at your own pace. Also, focus on doing things that interest you vs. doing things out of obligation. Let yourself be guided by what you want, what you love, not what you feel you have to do. The former is to be driven by love while the latter is driven by fear.
5) Start rebuilding your life
Once you are ready, it’s time to rebuild your life.
Ready meaning you are ready to reintegrate with the world. To give life your all again. To be your true authentic self.
Remember the vision you have painted in step #3? How can you get started with that?
Perhaps you lost a friend and you are grieving over his/her passing.
Maybe you just ended a marriage. You are still hurting but you have decided that it’s time to move on.
Maybe you just went through a crushing business failure or your business is tanking. You feel ashamed and you’re not sure what to do next about your business.
Maybe you just got retrenched. Your previous company is the only thing you’ve ever known your entire working life.
Take this as a fresh new start. Your previous company is not you. What are some goals you’ve always wanted to pursue? Hobbies? Take this chance to explore them.
And to everyone reading this, I’m terribly sorry that you had to go through any grief. I wish that things could be better. I wish that I could make the pain go away.
While I can’t say that things will get easy because they may not, here’s one thing I do know: We are alive right now. You and me, we are alive. Because of that, it means the possibility to create what we want. To be with our loved ones. To touch them, cherish them. To pursue what we love. To impact others. To make a difference in the things we care about. To show appreciation to the people we love, while we still can. To create life, for some of us.
I hope you’ll be able to find the strength to carry on soon. I hope you’ll be able to break through this darkness to find light. When you do, you’ll find that the whole world has been waiting for you to re-join it all along. That everyone around you, including the people you care about and love, has been waiting for you to join them. That no matter what you think, you are never alone. That even in times of darkness, you can see a light. A light that is inside you, that is burning brightly within you.
By Brian Nadon