Without an aim in life we tread water, barely moving anywhere because we haven’t defined where that place should be or what it looks like. The wrong aim, however, is almost as destructive. Today, the aim is an end for most of us. In this article, you’ll discover a different way of looking at what you want from life, one that’ll yield more success, meaning, purpose, and pride in how you live.
This title, what a man should want from life, comes from a conversation I had with a couple pals over a few months ago now. Cigars and whiskey were in play in this conversation, making men talk about deeper things than they’d talk about had the whiskey and tobacco not been on hand.
A question was posed; what do you want from life?
(read: figure out what to do by knowing what not to do)
This is covered in podcast form as well:
My surface answer was given – a ranch with over 100 acres, a woman, and sons. Then their deeper answers were given, to smile daily and find meaning in my work, and, to make the most of my blessings while I’m here on earth.
Befuddled, not having a deep answer on hand, I couldn’t come up with one. I’d never really thought about what I want from life on a deeper level, which seems like something you should begin to think about on day one – or at least when conscious thoughts are available.
Alas, I hadn’t an answer, and I’m not the most emotionally intelligent human on the planet either, so understanding what I really want required some research.
(read: 7 steps to building unbreakable resilience)
Thus, two months have passed, and I have my answer – after a few books have been read.
Those books — if you’re wondering — Strangers to Ourselves, a book about the role of the unconscious on our lives, and this disconnect between what we say we’ll do (which is what psychologists usually take as what we’ll do) and what we actually do in a circumstance or in response to a stimulus of any kind. The second, Seeking Wisdom from Darwin to Munger, simply put, a book that covers a slough of scenarios that we encounter daily or yearly and how we usually respond to them, why we respond in such a way, and how to respond, think, and act with true rationality. Brilliant book. The other, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, a wonderful book with Stoic undertones about what one should care about and what one should not give a fuck about.
The reality is that we give a fuck about the wrong things, desires that aren’t true, opinions of others that don’t matter, wishes and dreams that we don’t deeply hold.
Coming out of those books I developed an answer, along with previous books I’d recently read including books by the brilliant Nassim Taleb, Antifragile and Skin in the Game.
(read: the lost art of fulfillment)
My answer is rooted in the achievement of good – good being achievement in any area of life. And that this achievement is always on the back of some kind of struggle, discomfort, or pain. We do not get good things, truly meaningful good things, without struggle.
Struggle, then, is also good.
Struggle, the act of working to improve, to build something, to learn something, to develop relationships, always require sacrifice, and the act of struggling or the act of sacrificing is where we find meaning. We don’t find meaning in the end. We get the end and then once again crave the struggle.
Call it struggle or sacrifice, pain or turmoil, tribulation or tragedy even, the fact is that we seek pleasure but we what we really need is pain.
If struggle, sacrifice, and pain is what we need, but also what so many of us try to avoid, then shouldn’t the attitude toward them both change?
Therein lies my answer to what I want from life.
Forget the ends, forget the things, the stuff that we have some control over, but not complete control over.
Forget what is won, earned, bestowed upon us, and instead focus on what we do.
If you notice, both pal’s answers were things they do, not things they get.
I want to find pure joy in the struggle, to smile in pain, to relish sacrifice.
To have something so simple, so clear as your end in life, as the purpose of life, as what you want in life, clarifies everything else you do.
It gives the pain meaning. It makes the struggle worth it. It gives you joy when most wouldn’t have it.
What do you want from life?
Tell me your answer below…