View of blue green lake with waves in the corner, looking out to the blue gray clouds as rays of sun shine through the clouds

Purpose of Life: What’s It All For, Anyway?

I returned a few days ago from a great trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my mom, who is 71. She wanted to visit the area she grew up in “one last time.” Now, traveling with family can be challenging. This was by far the longest amount of time (one week, to be precise) I’ve spent with my mom in many, many years.

However, our trip was truly a gift.

A gift of time to spend one-on-one with my mom, especially since we have a lot of baggage and don’t have the best relationship. To create memories together, in a place she grew up in. To reconnect with relatives she hasn’t seen in many, many years. To have conversations and talk about things we never would have if we weren’t together for the week. And frankly, a gift we didn’t kill each other! (Kidding, not kidding)

One of the highlights during our trip was meeting my 84-year old aunt for the first time. My mom had not seen her in 30+ years! As we talked, her aunt asked about me and what I enjoy. I told her about how much we love travel and adventure, especially in our RV. She had done quite a bit of traveling and even RVing in her younger years too. Her response to me:

You’re doing it right. Keep doing it as long as you can.

Her comment stuck with me. As we made the long drive home, a question resurfaced. It’s one that I’ve pondered now for years, especially as I drove to and from my 9-5 in Human Resources.

What’s it all for? Put in another way, what is the purpose of life?

I find that question coming up again more recently as the gap of time grows between quitting my career and where I am now. I wanted space from work, and I have that space. Well over a year of space, in fact. But yet I feel like I should have my life more “figured out.”

Sometimes I’m very much at peace with not having life “figured out.” In fact, many times I feel being able to do what I enjoy each day, no matter how big or small, is what it’s all for… I spend time with my husband and pup, cook meals for us and others, plan amazing trips, write, read, connect with others in the groups we value most, move my body for my overall health, take care of our home and yard. And yet…

Other times I feel overwhelming guilt and shame for not being more, productive, contributing–specifically around earning money.

Why haven’t I monetized this blog? Why haven’t I stumbled across or created some amazing opportunity to use the skills I have to earn money? What am I doing with my life?!

My cognitive dissonance is deafening, mostly due to cultural messages telling us making money is the most acceptable and valued way to be a productive and contributing human being.

But I know that’s not true. The purpose of life cannot be to make money. So, what’s it all for?

I’m beginning to think my aunt was spot on. Maybe we are doing it right by focusing on the seemingly small, daily enjoyments of life: seeing new places and people when time allows, helping and connecting with friends and family, having adventures together, and leaning into what we truly enjoy, no matter how big or small.

While I’ve been searching for years for some grandiose, complicated answer, maybe the answer has been right in front of me: the small, simple, enjoyable things I do on a daily basis.

What do you think, what is the purpose of life? Tell me in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “Purpose of Life: What’s It All For, Anyway?”

  1. This is such as a good question, but I believe it’s helpful to reframe it. Instead of what is “the” purpose of life, I prefer what is “my” purpose in life. The former is such a cosmic question, one that philosophers have been attempting to answer for thousands of years. It’s a scary question, honestly! For me, finding my own unique purpose in life is much more approachable (although still challenging!). I struggled for many years with this, but hiring a life coach was a game changer in helping me unlock my purpose/mission in life. For me personally, my purpose is to love God, love others, and transform lives through discipleship, financial coaching, healthy living, and any other path God calls me to lead.

    1. Such a great point that each person’s view on “what’s it all for” will be specific to them individually. I agree reflecting and trying to find your individual “purpose” feels much less overwhelming than trying to figure out the purpose of life.

  2. Thanks so much for this great post! It resonates so much. I, too, intend to live the “simple” life when I downshift from work. That’s what I crave. And I worry so much that I will not be able to fully live in to that life because of the guilt, or whatever pressure society puts on us to make money. I guess I can’t know how it will feel until I try it, and maybe I just need to face the fact that that feeling won’t ever go away, but it doesn’t mean I can’t live that life!

    1. I’m glad to hear this post resonated with you, Mrs. Dink! Trusting yourself to know what you truly “crave” is amazing, especially when you think about all the cultural expectations and societal pressures we encounter in our day-to-day lives. A “simple” life also resonates with me related to having “enough” and being happy with what I have. Thanks for your comment!

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