If someone displays these 7 behaviors, they lack a clear purpose in life

If someone displays these 7 behaviors, they lack a clear purpose in life

“Purpose” –  It’s something we all want and desire, whether we know it consciously or not. 

It’s what gets us up in the morning and often what keeps us fighting when the going gets tough. 

More than that, research even suggests that having a purpose can help us live longer and is associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety

Needless to say, then, it’s pretty important. Where do most of us find such meaning?

Well, Pew research would suggest that the majority of Americans find it in the family – almost 70% of Americans, in fact. This is followed by career (34%), money(23%), and friends (19%). 

But some have no clear purpose at all in life. 

In my early twenties, I was one of them, but I was far from alone – nearly 40% of Americans say they feel neutral about or don’t have a purpose in life.  

Think you know someone like this?

There are signs; today, we cover five of them. We’ll also give you some tips on how to help someone find purpose. 

Let’s get to it. 

1) Not setting long-term goals 

Without a destination in mind, without aspirations or ambitions to strive towards, one’s journey becomes aimless, subject to the whims of circumstance rather than guided by intention.

Or as the great Stoic philosopher Seneca put it, “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.” 

This absence of long-term goals often stems from a deeper disconnection from one’s values, passions, and sense of purpose. 

When we lack a clear understanding of what truly matters to us and what we hope to achieve in life, it becomes challenging to set meaningful objectives and chart a course toward their realization.

Not sure if the person you have in mind fits this sign. Ask them, “Where do you want to be in five years?” 

You will know quickly whether they do or do not have long term goals. 

2) Job/career hopping

Know someone who seems to have a new job every time you catch up with them? 

This is one I was guilty of. 

I moved from finance to education to entrepreneurship before eventually doing what I am doing right now. 

At the time, I didn’t recognize it as a sign of lacking purpose, but it was. I was searching for something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.

You might argue that work is not our sole source of purpose, and you’d be correct. Many aspects of our lives can contribute to a sense of meaning and fulfillment

For most of us, our work plays a pivotal role in shaping our identities and providing a sense of contribution to society.

Research backs this up; as mentioned in the intro, 34% of Americans cited their careers as a source of meaning in their lives. 

Anyway, when we lack a clear purpose, this often manifests itself in our professional lives through frequent job-hopping. 

We bounce from one role to another, constantly seeking something that can satisfy that deep-seated yearning for meaning and significance.

3) Perpetually changing “Passions”

People who are highly creative but often misunderstood If someone displays these 7 behaviors, they lack a clear purpose in life

One week, they’re all about mastering the guitar, pouring over chords, and strumming patterns with fervent intensity. 

The next, it’s all about vegan cooking, with their kitchen transforming into a test lab for plant-based recipes. 

Sound familiar? 

When we lack a clear sense of direction, it’s easy to latch onto whatever piques our interest at the moment, thinking, “THIS IS IT; this is the passion that’s going to define me.” 

But without a steady foundation, these newfound hobbies often flicker out as quickly as they flare up. It’s like grabbing at straws, hoping one will turn out to be the magic wand that finally brings a sense of fulfillment and identity.

The constant shift from one interest to another is a tell-tale sign of a broader search for meaning, an attempt to fill the void left by an undefined purpose.

4) Frequent comparisons to others

You’ve been there. I’ve been there. We all have. 

We scroll through perfectly curated feeds, catching glimpses of others’ seemingly perfect lives – exotic vacations, career achievements, and personal milestones.

And before long, we find ourselves measuring our own lives against these highlight reels, often leaving us feeling inadequate and unfulfilled.

When we don’t have a strong sense of direction or meaning in our lives, we become even more vulnerable to the allure of such comparisons. 

I found myself caught in this cycle when I was searching for direction. I was constantly looking outward for benchmarks of success.

We seek validation and significance from external sources, desperately trying to keep up with the projected images of success and happiness around us.

However, as psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson advises in his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, we should compare ourselves to ourselves.

This simple yet profound advice reminds us that the only fair comparison we can make is with our own past selves. 

There will always be someone who appears to be doing better in some aspect of life, and constantly measuring ourselves against others is a losing game that breeds eternal discontentment and only serves as a distraction from finding the ‘purpose’ that’s right for us. 

5) Procrastination

As I said at the start of this post, meaning is what gets us out of bed in the morning and keeps us going through hard times. 

When we feel disconnected from our “why,” it becomes all too easy to fall into the trap of constantly delaying tasks and responsibilities.

Without a clear sense of purpose, it’s challenging to muster the drive and discipline required to tackle challenges head-on.

Procrastination becomes a convenient escape hatch, allowing us to temporarily avoid the discomfort of facing our uncertainties and doubts.

However, as we all know, this escape is fleeting, and the consequences of chronic procrastination can be severe – missed opportunities, unfulfilled potential, and a perpetual cycle of self-defeating behavior.

6) Constant busyness

This one seems like the exact opposite of procrastination, but as noted by Kristen Beesley, a psychoanalyst, “Chronic busyness is a way many people distract themselves from uncomfortable, unpleasant, and painful emotions.”

Sometimes, these uncomfortable emotions stem from a lack of meaning and purpose . We try to distract ourselves from them with a never-ending stream of activities. 

Staying busy becomes a way to avoid confronting the deeper questions of “Why am I doing all this?” and “What truly matters to me?” 

I’ve witnessed this pattern in my own life, too.

During periods when I felt disconnected from my core values and aspirations, I would unconsciously pile on more and more commitments, driven by a fear of stillness and the discomfort it might bring. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a defense mechanism. 

However, this constant busyness is ultimately unsustainable and unfulfilling. It leads to burnout, stress, and a perpetual sense of dissatisfaction as we continue to chase the next task without ever finding true fulfillment.

7) Excessive escapism

things unsuccessful people never do after work If someone displays these 7 behaviors, they lack a clear purpose in life

These days, we have access to countless forms of escapism – binge-watching shows, immersing ourselves in video games, or endlessly scrolling through social media. 

While these activities can be harmless forms of leisure in moderation, excessive escapism can be a red flag indicating a lack of purpose and dissatisfaction with one’s real life. 

In my mid-twenties, I found myself doing just this – increasingly turning to various forms of escapism as a means of detaching from reality.

It wasn’t about enjoying a hobby or relaxing after a long day; it was about creating a buffer between myself and the life I was actually living.

Basically, excessive escapism can be a way to avoid dealing with feelings of restlessness, and the gnawing thought that we aren’t where we want to be in life.

Research backs this up suggesting that people often use the internet and other forms of escapism as a means of avoiding worry. 

How to help someone lacking in purpose 

If you see a few of the above signs in someone you know, lending a helping hand might be appropriate. Here are some ways you can assist:

  1. Promote small goal setting: Help them break down their aspirations into small, manageable goals. Achieving these can boost their confidence and provide a clearer sense of direction. 
  2. Suggest keeping a journal: This was a game-changer for me. Writing down thoughts, feelings, and daily happenings can provide insights into one’s desires and passions. Encourage them to note moments when they felt particularly happy or fulfilled. Over time, patterns may emerge that highlight their interests and values.
  3. Share inspiring stories: Sometimes, hearing about others who have found their purpose can be incredibly motivating. Share books, podcasts, or articles about people who have made significant changes in their lives to pursue their passions.
  4. Encourage gratitude: Encourage them to focus on what they’re thankful for. Practicing gratitude can shift their perspective from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in their life, opening up a pathway to discovering what truly matters to them.
  5. Recommend professional guidance: If they seem profoundly lost, suggest seeking the help of a career counselor or life coach. These professionals can provide structured guidance and assessment tools to help identify interests and potential career paths.

The bottom line

That just about wraps it up from me today, folks. 

If you notice a few of these signs in someone you know, there’s a good chance they are lacking in purpose. 

And it’s not a good place to be; it can have negative effects on mental and physical health. We all need a helping hand from time to time; consider offering one. 

As always, I hope you found this post valuable. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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