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I want to begin this post by saying that I am happy to report that all of the things I was worried about in my previous posts turned out alright. I am happy with my job in marketing, I have finished my masters, my creativity has returned to me, and I have numerous opportunities to do things with friends again. That last part I was MOST worried about, because I figured that I had to leave that behind in high school and college. I am happy to report now that I am as busy now with experiences with friends as I was back then. I honestly thought I'd never have that again.

 

So with that said, I've really been able to reflect on something. It seems like a lot of the things I was worried about came from the drastic change felt with the end of college. I think throughout high school and college, I was able to enjoy hobbies and experiences more because I saw them all within the context of a greater picture, moving forward from grade to grade, and then moving forward to my degree. I know this is an age old question that probably has been answered before elsewhere in this forum, but I must ask if that is something you ever feel again?

 

Every article I read on this says things along the lines of "well obviously you need to find another goal." Obviously? I didn't realize it was that simple. And even still, how do you find a goal?

 

I mean, do I just continue to plan events and vacations and look to those as the goal? Do I attempt to go for another degree or another promotion? Do I move to another city and do something completely different? And even still, once all of those things are done, do I just make up another goal after that? Maybe this isn't that complicated, but for whatever reason, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

 

But all things said, I will admit I don't feel like I'm quite in the limbo I was stuck in from 23 to about 27. That was a very strange period of time where I had no idea where I was at or where I was going. I guess one of these days I could try and find a partner and move toward marriage, but that sounds equally fleeting. What do we do after that?

 

I know a lot of people are going to tell me to live in the moment, but I can promise you I am. I'm just hoping for something to contextualize the moment around, like the moment is a chapter in a greater mission I'm moving toward. Regardless, I can say that I'm much happier now. I'm just looking to answer this question as a cherry on top.

 

You don't have to look for creativity when your life feels like a book.

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You'll have new feelings throughout your lifetime.

 

You don't always need new goals if you're satisfied where you are with your job and education finished. Even though a lot of people will tell you to live in the moment, you should enjoy the moment. Allow life's experiences to evolve as you live it.

 

New people will continue to be introduced in your life. Some are keepers whereas others drift away due to lack of interest and not caring to get to know some people which is perfectly ok.

 

Congratulations on being much happier now. This is great news.

 

If your life feels like a book, creativity is something to look forward to if you wish to pursue this route. Or, just remain content and comfortable with status quo.

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Beyond adulthood? Some adults never really reach adulthood. You'll define what adulthood means to you and the type of man you want to be.

 

There's an art in maintaining happiness and stability in your life. You'll also develop your own opinions on other things and fine-tune your lifestyle. You may add and subtract various items and people in it. I'm sensing you're also looking for a deeper purpose. That's something only you can find and adhere to. You're not given that on a silver platter, I'm afraid, so don't expect the answers to come to you overnight or for someone to provide those answers for you. Do the homework, stay curious and keep learning. Find your purpose. You might surprise yourself and who knows...maybe nurture more than one.

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Even though a lot of people will tell you to live in the moment, you should enjoy the moment.

 

 

I don't think I completely follow this part. Could you elaborate?

 

Sorry, sometimes I struggle to follow things that are actually really straightforward.

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Great to hear that you are doing well!

 

I find that the more we experience things (especially difficult matters) we grow. We are a work in progress. Progress, however, is only possible when you are working towards something. Stagnation kills us.

 

That is why I find that moving towards a long-term goal gives us something to focus on. We may not conquer that long-term goal and instead find a more interesting detour, but throughout that journey we develop and become stronger.

 

What would you like to experience that you haven't yet? How would you like to impact others? It can be anything from eradicating poverty, learning a new language, building your own international brand to writing 10 novels. Be as crazy or down to earth as you want.

Edited by greendots
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Great to hear that you are doing well!

 

I find that the more we experience things (especially difficult matters) we grow. We are a work in progress. Progress, however, is only possible when you are working towards something. Stagnation kills us.

 

That is why I find that moving towards a long-term goal gives us something to focus on. We may not conquer that long-term goal and instead find a more interesting detour, but throughout that journey we develop and become stronger.

 

What would you like to experience that you haven't yet? How would you like to impact others? It can be anything from eradicating poverty, learning a new language, building your own international brand to writing 10 novels. Be as crazy or down to earth as you want.

 

I hear where you are coming from with the differentiation between long-term and the detours. Detour is the perfect word for it. Maybe I just played too many video games growing up, but I really do look at life a lot like a video game. I feel like I'm on a lot of side quests at the moment and I'm looking to get back toward the main quest, whatever that may happen to be.

 

I like your suggestions. I definitely intend to try my hand at writing, even if it can never be published, I have way too much to say before I die.

 

Now that I have active friendships again, I am currently talking with a few friends about trying to record music and play local shows. There are a lot of creative endeavors I would like to accomplish. I'm also looking forward to traveling for the first time this coming August.

 

But now that I'm actually talking about it, I guess what I'm looking for is whatever the main focus in my life could possibly be. I very much enjoy my job right now because the amount of responsibility is low and the pay is very good for such a position, but I think I desire something more. If this is my career and my main focus in life, I think I need something that would yield more of an accomplishment than just the paycheck.

 

I don't know, the more I talk the more I think I should try and go for the promotion

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But now that I'm actually talking about it, I guess what I'm looking for is whatever the main focus in my life could possibly be.

 

This is what I hear rumbling beneath the surface. Plenty common. I think most people spend their lives wondering what the purpose, or main focus, is. My feeling is that it's always coming in and out of focus, changing shapes, and the more comfortable you can get with that idea the more you can settle into whatever it is that's right in front of you without worrying about what it's adding up to.

 

Without that worry, more often than not, the thing in front of you starts to expand, deepen, and come into focus. It becomes the "purpose," for a while, until it doesn't.

 

From your original post, it sounds like you're kind of struggling to find meaning—or a structure that provides the illusion of meaning. As you put it, we spend our earlier years in a tightly structured world where little shots of meaning are given to us constantly. We "graduate" elementary school, we have winter and summer breaks, we're building toward middle school, high school, college—everything marked in quarters, with pats on the back for basically doing nothing.

 

Then you're out there in the world, actually doing things, but no one really cares. Not the same way. The illusion is gone. It's all vague and, in your 20s especially, it can all feel immensely consequential. You're kind of trying to "figure it all out," or "win the game," so you can exhale and, you know, live your real life.

 

Well, I think all that is life. I mean, when you think about what you're most nostalgic about when you're younger and being poked with a cattle prod through the stages, it isn't the report cards and graduations but the looser periods in between. Odds are that's where things were really potent—those summer breaks, etc.—and the beauty of adulthood is that's all of it.

 

I've always been a big dreamer, and never a huge fan of structure, so I've always just put big dreams in the crosshairs and then gone about the business of shooting them down. Maybe it's making a movie or writing or novel. Maybe it's drinking wine by a canal in Paris. Maybe it's a house on a mountain, or an apartment in the city. Maybe it's making X amount of money, or having a retirement account that reads Y by age Z.

 

Let these things enter your vision, and then pounce—hard. You don't always land where you think, and you miss a lot, but after a while you realize that missing and hitting are kind of the same thing. It's living. It's a blast.

 

My few cents, for whatever they're worth.

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This is what I hear rumbling beneath the surface. Plenty common. I think most people spend their lives wondering what the purpose, or main focus, is. My feeling is that it's always coming in and out of focus, changing shapes, and the more comfortable you can get with that idea the more you can settle into whatever it is that's right in front of you without worrying about what it's adding up to.

 

Without that worry, more often than not, the thing in front of you starts to expand, deepen, and come into focus. It becomes the "purpose," for a while, until it doesn't.

 

From your original post, it sounds like you're kind of struggling to find meaning—or a structure that provides the illusion of meaning. As you put it, we spend our earlier years in a tightly structured world where little shots of meaning are given to us constantly. We "graduate" elementary school, we have winter and summer breaks, we're building toward middle school, high school, college—everything marked in quarters, with pats on the back for basically doing nothing.

 

Then you're out there in the world, actually doing things, but no one really cares. Not the same way. The illusion is gone. It's all vague and, in your 20s especially, it can all feel immensely consequential. You're kind of trying to "figure it all out," or "win the game," so you can exhale and, you know, live your real life.

 

Well, I think all that is life. I mean, when you think about what you're most nostalgic about when you're younger and being poked with a cattle prod through the stages, it isn't the report cards and graduations but the looser periods in between. Odds are that's where things were really potent—those summer breaks, etc.—and the beauty of adulthood is that's all of it.

 

I've always been a big dreamer, and never a huge fan of structure, so I've always just put big dreams in the crosshairs and then gone about the business of shooting them down. Maybe it's making a movie or writing or novel. Maybe it's drinking wine by a canal in Paris. Maybe it's a house on a mountain, or an apartment in the city. Maybe it's making X amount of money, or having a retirement account that reads Y by age Z.

 

Let these things enter your vision, and then pounce—hard. You don't always land where you think, and you miss a lot, but after a while you realize that missing and hitting are kind of the same thing. It's living. It's a blast.

 

My few cents, for whatever they're worth.

 

You definitely hit the nail on the head. I've gone so far as to schedule my vacation time a year in advance to try and give myself the semblance of those breaks.

 

But I will say, I'm all the happier for it.

 

I guess I'm a creature of structure, deep down. But your post honestly gives me a lot of optimism. It sounds like it can be had, just in another form.

 

A year ago I was going on and on about not spending time with friends the same way I did in those days. But, here I am now employed with a 9 to 5 job and I find myself almost more busy with friends now than when I was in college.

 

I know I'm all over the place with this, but it what I'm taking away from it is that I'm the master of my own structure now.

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You know what's awesome? Being a creature of structure. Equally awesome? Being a creature of improvisation. Different strokes for different folks. And sometimes different strokes for most of us at different junctures.

 

I was a raging machine of ambition when I was really young. I still probably am, in ways, but the focus has changed, the place where I find meaning and purpose has shifted. At 22 I was obsessed with knowing where I'd be at 30; now I'm 39 and could kind of give a damn about where I'll be at 41, but I'm super stoked to find out. Is that because I managed to shoot down some of the things in the crosshairs along the way? Sure, probably. But is it also just time changing things, showing me a different angle, a new color. Yeah, probably that too.

 

I'll always remember my 30th birthday, when it just kind of hit me that: oh, I get it—I'll just do some stuff, then some more stuff, then some more, and the one day I won't do stuff anymore because I won't be alive. And all that stuff will add up to a life—meaning. In the meantime? Best to just live it, and hard, whatever that means to you.

 

Maybe that sounds depressing, but to me it was utterly freeing. Allowed me to stop worrying about it all and just kind of float around in it. Now, don't get me wrong: I probably sound a bit woo-woo here, like a dude typing these words in the caboose while train-hopping across the country. I'm not. I've got two mortgages, a retirement account. I'm pretty laser focused on things, and a pursuit called out to be very hard very early in life—and I've been doing it since I was 19.

 

That calling does anchor me, provides a sense of meaning. But, truth is, it unmoors me as much as it anchors me—like, you know, everything. Success and failure, lost and found—these aren't really opposites. Once you realize those things are all kind of the same—being rooted, being uprooted, being unrooted—you kind of get more deeply rooted in yourself.

 

Probably that's just time. Or, who knows, the right structure for you. Or both.

 

Keep searching. Never stop. A year ago you were searching for one thing, and it seems you found some version of it. So cool! Now you're itchy again. So cool! Enjoy the itch, the questions as much as the answers.

 

My goal, for what it's worth, is that when I die—ideally never, but I'm a realist, and know it will happen—that my tombstone will read something like: "But wait, I just realized that what I really want is—"

 

Alas, didn't get to finish the thought. All good. There were a lot of thoughts preceding it, ideas and journeys, side quests that turned out to be the quest, the quests that turned out to be side quests.

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I don't think I completely follow this part. Could you elaborate?

 

Sorry, sometimes I struggle to follow things that are actually really straightforward.

 

Oops, I meant I'm just reiterating about living in the moment just as others have told you. Try not to stress. Enjoy life, meet new people, make life exciting and try not to get too philosophical with your life. This is how it was when I was very young. Live life to the fullest and don't take it too seriously, Of course, take care of your schooling and career. In the meantime, don't fret. Enjoy the ride. If you're happy, focus on that.

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I hear where you are coming from with the differentiation between long-term and the detours. Detour is the perfect word for it. Maybe I just played too many video games growing up, but I really do look at life a lot like a video game. I feel like I'm on a lot of side quests at the moment and I'm looking to get back toward the main quest, whatever that may happen to be.

 

I like your suggestions. I definitely intend to try my hand at writing, even if it can never be published, I have way too much to say before I die.

 

Now that I have active friendships again, I am currently talking with a few friends about trying to record music and play local shows. There are a lot of creative endeavors I would like to accomplish. I'm also looking forward to traveling for the first time this coming August.

 

But now that I'm actually talking about it, I guess what I'm looking for is whatever the main focus in my life could possibly be. I very much enjoy my job right now because the amount of responsibility is low and the pay is very good for such a position, but I think I desire something more. If this is my career and my main focus in life, I think I need something that would yield more of an accomplishment than just the paycheck.

 

I don't know, the more I talk the more I think I should try and go for the promotion

 

The video game analogy is great! I was about to reply yesterday but looking at life from a video game perspective made me ponder on the important of detours as sometimes we choose them and other times it’s forced upon us (e.g. death of a loved one) and we then roll with it.

 

But, may I ask you something? What drives you? What really gets you going?

 

I find that, whatever it is that we do in life, our pursuit isn’t about us but about serving others. It’s just then, when we shift our focus to actually serving others, that the rewards are much sweeter.

 

By the way writing, recording music & playing local shows and that promotion - all sound like exciting adventures to embark on!

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The video game analogy is great! I was about to reply yesterday but looking at life from a video game perspective made me ponder on the important of detours as sometimes we choose them and other times it’s forced upon us (e.g. death of a loved one) and we then roll with it.

 

But, may I ask you something? What drives you? What really gets you going?

 

I find that, whatever it is that we do in life, our pursuit isn’t about us but about serving others. It’s just then, when we shift our focus to actually serving others, that the rewards are much sweeter.

 

By the way writing, recording music & playing local shows and that promotion - all sound like exciting adventures to embark on!

 

 

I was thinking on this today and I realized something. I've always had the intention of writing novels, but I think in my mind that always felt like a "great side quest." I make no bones about it, I'm far from a good writer (not being hard on myself or fishing for compliments, I say this with pride. I would rather be subpar but create what I want to create) and if I were lucky enough to land something, turning it into a 9 to 5 would suck the fun right out of it for me.

 

So it's definitely something that I want to do with my life, but it always felt like something on the side while "real life" goes on.

 

But I've taken a few things from this thread, both my love for viewing the world creatively and my need for some amount of structure.

 

What gets me going are those Christmas breaks that feel like full blown movies. What gets me going are those long weeks of work that pay off in something better than I could ever imagine.

 

What truly gets me going is where I am comfortable enough and stable enough in my daily life, that while I am going through it, I can turn it all into a greater story in my head. While I am living my life, I can daydream about the life I am living as if it is something much more than it could ever be.

 

Because let's be honest, even with all the money, power, and luck in the world, I could never become a video game character. It is absolutely impossible that I will ever literally be in a video game. But that's ok! Because the moments in life that I have felt happiest have been those moments where I can complete the tasks at hand but still dream at the same time. And I am glad to report that I have that again. When I first started working after college, I was scared to death that I had to think about work 24/7. I'm happy to see that's not the case.

 

So yes, I do want to write, and record, and go for the promotion. But most of all, I want to get my life to a point where the train tracks I'm on allow for dreaming, because that dreaming is where all the best stories come from for me. And living that dream is easier when I have something to contextualize it around. A few years back it was college, before that it was high school. The past few years have felt like a limbo for me, but I'm coming out on the other side now.

 

As to what way I can structure my life so it can have a rhythm and set of seasons to dream around, I'm not quite sure yet. But from the responses I've gotten here, I'm a lot more optimistic that it can be done.

 

And you jot that down to every other post I've made on this forum. At the moment the odds felt like they were against me, but I have since found that I can mold my life into whatever I want it to be.

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Every article I read on this says things along the lines of "well obviously you need to find another goal." Obviously? I didn't realize it was that simple. And even still, how do you find a goal?

 

Heh-heh! That got ya, huh?

 

CongrAts on your accomplishments. In terms of you own private 'next,' any small goal is fine. Even if it's just to relax and continue rounding out your social life as you are already doing. You've stated how much that means to you, so take a breather and enjOy it--for as long as you wish.

 

The main reason targeting even small goals is healthy has to do with the nature of the brain. It is always in problem solving mode. So to avoid having it create unnecessary problems to solve, just feed yourself some beneficial carrots to chew on. A mild to-do list that includes mundane things like getting your groceries or mailing something is fine. You'll gain a sense of accomplishment even while your brain will tend to seek out the next thing to focus on.

 

Any list, even if it's mental, and even if it's just about organizing your errands or household purchases prevents the brain from creating unnecessary problems to solve.

 

Some people are worriers. They tend to overthink and fear worst case scenarios and create crises to 'manage' their life around by jumping through hoops all fo the time. That's not necessary. As long as you are content to address your daily and household concerns, then you are not likely at risk to become a high anxiety person.

 

However, if you start feeling a void, it's a good idea to put your creativity to work and come up with a longer range goal or two that you can break down in steps to work toward. This addresses feelings of restlessness, IF you start to have those. If not, then there is nothing 'wrong' or unhealthy about just enjoying your life as you see fit.

 

There are no judges or juries. Nobody is living our lives for us, so nobody else gets a vote. Taking the time to relax and enjoy any given state that you've already worked hard to reach is a blessing, not something to sabotage with arbitrary hoops to keep jumping through.

 

Head high, and embrace BEING, as opposed to doing, whenever you can. That's a life stage that you've earned, and should you reach a point of saturation that tells you it's time to move 'forward' in search of something else, you'll have already gained enough self knowledge to discover what that longer range goal might become.

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Hey GreenGoose22,

 

All I can say is that your reply made me smile.

 

I have since found that I can mold my life into whatever I want it to be.

Always! We may not be able to change our past, but we can certainly rewrite the next chapter of our saga.

 

You write with so much drive and passion that I’m certain your next chapters are going to be incredible!

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I think throughout high school and college, I was able to enjoy hobbies and experiences more because I saw them all within the context of a greater picture, moving forward from grade to grade, and then moving forward to my degree. I know this is an age old question that probably has been answered before elsewhere in this forum, but I must ask if that is something you ever feel again?

 

That greater picture was set out for you by others. Until now, your forward progress has been guided: school, undergraduate school, graduate school, job, promotion, etc. You probably didn't notice it much because the path felt natural to you. In fact, it sounds like you enjoyed that security.

 

I can't really relate to that entirely, but I can relate to that cast-adrift feeling that follows after all of those goals have been achieved.

 

Will the sense of certainty ever return? I don't know.

 

And even still, how do you find a goal?

 

I was also stymied by this question, and I think I still am to some extent. But eventually, what I decided is that I just want to be happy. That's my goal. Every decision is measured with, "but what would I really like to do?" And if it's not immediately possible, the steps to get there become my short-term goals.

 

I think of it like sailing. Before, you were a passenger on a ship with an itinerary. Now, you have to captain the ship and be the passenger at the same time. The itinerary is now just an option.

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Will the sense of certainty ever return? I don't know.

 

Oh I do believe it will. I'm feeling closer and close to it each day.

 

I hear you on the captain and passenger analogy, that might be one of the best ones I've heard so far.

 

But I honestly feel like I'm getting closer to having an itinerary locked down and being able to ride the winds similar to how I was used to riding them before. Not that I'm so bogged down by structure that I can't appreciate the spontaneous moments. I guess it's sometimes within that structure that the spontaneous moments are easier to contextualize.

 

I guess I'm just repeating myself, but I really want to thank everyone here because I've really put together that I'm not looking for meaning as much as I'm looking for an itinerary. And I see absolutely no reason why that cannot be had.

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