It’s easy to be productive when you have a goal, a sense of purpose. But what if you don’t? What if your future stretches before you like a limitless desert? How can you be productive then, and more importantly, what for?
Productivity for productivity’s sake doesn’t make sense. Being productive should serve a purpose. Bring you closer to meeting your goals. Make your life happier.
If you don’t have any goals right now, this article is here to help.
Write out your “now”
If you’re currently feeling empty and with no sense of purpose, this is what you need to address first. Tune into your feelings and try to define what is causing this feeling of emptiness. Even if the answer seems obvious, it’s still a good idea to dive a little bit deeper.
To do this, you can do a brain dump on paper, practice daily journaling, or just take a couple of minutes to let your thoughts run free.
Ask yourself: What are you currently experiencing? How does this make you feel exactly? What is responsible for your lack of motivation, purpose, goals?
Before trying to fill a void, you need to know where that void is and what caused it in the first place.
Find small tasks to boost productivity
Define small tasks you can do to get moving. Just be a little productive. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Think taking out the trash, wiping down kitchen counters, doing a load of laundry…
The most difficult part of productivity is to get going. It’s easier to keep an already moving body in motion, so just find little chores to do.
And while you do them, start thinking about those feelings you dug up during the first step. This might seem random, but in my experience, creativity moves more freely when your body does. And creativity is what you need to come up with ideas for your future.
Start thinking about your new purpose
Once you’ve started accomplishing small tasks, you’re probably feeling a little less stuck already. You’ve defined what causes your lack of purpose. You know what area of your life needs a new goal to keep you going.
This is the time to find some intrinsic motivation. To give your future a new purpose. Again, it doesn’t have to be big. I’ll give you some examples below.
Maybe you’ve realized that you feel completely stuck in your career. You’ve been doing the same job for years, and nothing exciting can come from it. In this case, you might start by taking a course to learn something new, something you’re interested in (I always recommend Coursera!). You might pick up a new (or old) hobby to stop feeling like all your time is invested in a boring job.
If you noticed that your lack of purpose comes from your relationships, this is what you should address. If you’re missing social interaction, it might be time to join a club, a church, anything you like. Or maybe you just miss the friends and family you already have, so you schedule some time to visit them.
Small goals like this aren’t likely to be life changing, but accomplishing them might make you feel a lot better. They’ll help you get out of your head and be productive in a way that serves you right now. And most importantly: accomplishing them will show you if you’re moving in the right direction or not.
Did the course you took make you feel excited or inspired? Did you feel energized after that time with your friends? If yes, great! If not, keep trying different ways to add that small speck of motivation back into your life.
Fill the void & find a new sense of purpose
If you have no sense of purpose, you’re likely in a situation where your future isn’t planned out. You don’t know who you want to be going forward. This creates a feeling of emptiness, and thus fails to motivate you in the long run.
Basically, you don’t even know what your life’s goals are. So how the heck can you reach them?
If you’ve completed the previous step, you at least have a starting point. Maybe you’ve realized that you missed learning new things. That you need to do something you’re actually passionate about. Perhaps you miss being close to family and friends. Or you noticed that you love meeting new people and need that in your life.
This is where your imagination comes in.
Ask yourself: Who do I want to be? Where do I want to go?
Anything is possible here (unless you want to be Spiderman and live on the moon, then dial down your imagination a bit).
Maybe you want to move closer to your family and give them all the support they might need. Maybe you don’t have a family of your own, but might want to become a foster parent. You could work for a charity to help people in need. Advocate for an illness. Find a job that makes a difference in the world. Find a job that’ll finally allow you to pay off your debt. Combat your loneliness by investing your time in other people.
There are no rules. You just have to find something that motivates you, and that seems worthwhile.
This is the hardest part for sure. But if you’ve got a taste for what motivates you, it’s worse pursuing more of that excitement and purpose.
What do you think? Have you ever felt a lack of purpose, and if yes, what did you do?