8 signs you’re drifting through life without a clear purpose

Your purpose in life is what gets you out of bed in the morning and motivates you to keep on keeping on. It’s the pep in your step, the twinkle in your eye, and your reason for living.

But sometimes, you slowly drift away from your true purpose without even being consciously aware of it. One minute you’re firmly on the path, chugging along towards your goals. The next, you’re adrift in a sea of uncertainty, scratching your head and wondering what happened.

Other times you may believe you’re on the correct path, but you forgot to take that left turn six months ago. So you’ve lost your way and your personal GPS is on hiatus-never-endus, or so it would seem. 

So how do you discern whether you’re drifting with the tides or just riding the same ebbs and flows that everyone experiences?

Here are a few signs that suggest you’re drifting through life with no purpose or plan.

1) You have no idea what you’re doing

Most people have goals they want to achieve, and dreams they want to pursue. These plans can be as grandiose as building a successful business or as straightforward as leading a fulfilled but simple life.

But if you find that you’re regularly wondering where your life is heading, or if you can’t clearly picture what you want your future to look like, it could be an indication that you’re aimlessly drifting through life.

This uncertainty can manifest itself mentally as confusion or anxiety when you’re pondering your future.

To counteract this emotional lethargy, you might change your career path or personal aspirations because everything feels ‘off’ and kind of weird. Or perhaps you don’t think about the future at all because that level of uncertainty is too overwhelming for you to deal with.

The first step towards rectifying this situation is acknowledging and accepting your feelings.

We all have times when we don’t have it all figured out and that’s OK. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start by setting small, achievable goals. This will give you a roadmap so you can eventually chart a course in the direction of your desired future. 

You are the author of your own story and you have the power to create the change you want to manifest in your life. Don’t allow fear to prevent you from creating a tomorrow that brings you fulfillment.

After all, one of life’s few constants is change.

2) You crave change

Do you find yourself craving change, any change? This isn’t a bad thing. Wanting to experience new things is human nature, after all. 

But remember, when you are living in lockstep with your true purpose, you aren’t constantly wishing for something different. When you love what you’re doing, you’re not fixated on upsetting the apple cart.

So if you’re fantasizing about doing something different on the reg, maybe a change is precisely what you need.

3) Stressed out

Stress is your body and soul sounding the alarm that things are getting unmanageable. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint the source of your stress if you’re having financial or relationship troubles.

Other times, though, it can be difficult to narrow down where the stress is coming from. 

Everything’s cool on the surface – yet you have zero chill for some reason. Or maybe the reason is that your life is lacking in love and joy, and stress is your wake-up call?

4) Seeking validation

Lacking purpose in life negatively impacts your self-esteem and your confidence.

You don’t feel good about yourself, and it slowly becomes habitual to depend on other people to fill that void. 

When someone, anyone, validates you, it feels amazing. The only time you feel valued is when someone else is singing your praises because in your mind, your own ‘singing’ isn’t credible. 

5) Chronic pain

Do you suffer from unexplained chronic pain?

Sometimes our bodies mimic the pain our souls are feeling. Recurring physical pain that has your doctor stumped could very well be your body warning you that you’re not on the right life path.

When your subconscious mind knows that you’re not living your life in alignment with your true purpose, it will get that message through one way or another, sometimes in the form of physical pain.

Listen to your body. Your physical pain could go away once you make some changes that put you in sync with your true purpose.

6) No motivation

Somewhere along the way, the stuff that used to interest you stopped bringing you joy.

Your favorite hobbies or even your relationships may elicit only yawns, and you end each day feeling unfulfilled and frustrated.

This isn’t just about being bored. It’s a much deeper, more insidious feeling of disconnection from your own life. You’re just going through the motions without truly being present.

Please keep in mind these can also be signs of depression, so if this feeling lasts more than a couple of weeks, reach out to your healthcare provider. 

7) Passive waiting

Are you just sort of hanging out, without a plan, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to fall in your lap? 

Or any opportunity at all? After all, you can learn to love it, right? 

I understand. Sometimes just passively waiting feels like the easier route to take, even if it’s counterproductive in the long run. But it probably won’t improve your mood any.

8) Easily irritated

If you’re always irritated by every minor annoyance, it might be time for some self-reflection. 

When the little things that usually wouldn’t phase you suddenly start driving you nuts, it could be the universe sending you another wake-up call telling you that you’ve veered from your true path.

Final thoughts

Sometimes drifting is the result of endlessly pursuing goals we’re convinced will bring us happiness. Or it might manifest as we passively drift along the path of least resistance, waiting for something to inspire or motivate us to take action. 

There are many different reasons we may find ourselves drifting through life, but we never drift to a situation that we have consciously chosen for ourselves.

It’s through deliberate, thoughtful action that we get to where we want to go. So when you find yourself adrift, pick up your oars and start purposefully rowing towards your true purpose.

Picture of Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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