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I thought I was lost in life.
I thought that I knew what feeling lost meant.
But now I realize that I had no idea.
Feeling lost is not an end state.
It's not an event that happens and that you get stuck in.
Feeling lost is a movement. It's a progression.
And before you think I'm bumbling on about nothing, read through a few of the top reasons why you're feeling lost in life.
Some might surprise you. Others might seem obvious.
But any one of them can be enough to dislodge you from what you're feeling and put you on the path that feels right for you.
Because it starts with awareness.
And it continues with taking the right mental approach.
Reason 1 You're Feeling Lost: You're Comparing Yourself to Other People
Comparing yourself to others is a trap.
And it never works.
Because you can't control what other people do, and trying to compare yourself to other people is like trying to bottle the wind.
It's always going to shift and move away.
And how can you ever know if you really "got" it?
Trying to copy others is like that.
You see someone accomplishing something that you've wanted to do.
But did you really want to do exactly that? The exact one thing in the exact one way that they did it?
What you're probably looking for is the feeling you think will arrive when you do what that other person has done.
But what you need to especially think about is all the bad times and struggles that are boiled into what you see other people doing.
You have no idea what it took for them to get to that point. You have no inclination of the kind of sacrifice they made to "succeed." You only see the end result from the outside.
And because you can't ever really know what it was like--and is like--for another person, you only can ever be yourself.
Solution: If you find that you're comparing yourself to others try this: Only compare yourself to...yourself.
It's the only way you'll have complete data.
And it's the only way to stay within your realm of control.
When you decide that the only game you want to play is a competition to improve over your past performance, you play in a game that you can actually win.
Whether you are a person who sets goals or someone who tries to build habits, competing against yourself is something active and controllable.
It doesn't matter exactly what you focus on.
It's the intention you bring to the journey.
That means you can't get lost because you set the path, and you determine what actions to take to be better than you were in the past.
Reason 2 You're Feeling Lost: You're Desperately Searching for the Meaning of Life
It's a noble pursuit, trying to find the meaning of life.
But what does it really mean?
And, framed that way, is it really possible to find?
Needing to find the one meaning for yourself is like trying to find a needle in a haystack when you're not even sure if you're operating in the right haystack--and no one told you, for sure, that there's even a needle in any of them.
It's a waste of time.
The meaning of life is not one thing.
It's not a box you open, and it's not a cave you'll stumble into.
Like I said at the outset, feeling lost is a progression.
A core part of life is meaning, yes, but it's something that you move through. It's a process you take as you're figuring everything else out.
Let me ask you this.
Can you turn on "happy?" Can you flip a switch and just be that way?
If you could, we all would have done it by now, and no one would have any more issues or cravings in life. Mental health challenges would miraculously disappear.
So, if you can't find an amorphous thing like happiness, if it's not something you can "get," why would meaning be any different?
Meaning is a progression, just like feeling lost.
You can move closer meaning. You can keep doing the search. But you can't get it once and for all and be done with it.
Solution: It takes a reframe to realize that meaning is not a one-time outcome to achieve, and that's what you need to do.
What are some of the things, or outcomes, in life that you are searching for?
What do you want badly but never seem to obtain?
Once you have an answer or two, reframe how you think about them.
Do you really need that outcome?
Do you want the outcome only once, or is this a state of being that you'd like to be in for extended periods of time?
And what happens when you stop searching for a particular outcome, when you forget that you're needing that thing in the first place?
How do your feelings change?
Think about finding meaning like that.
Think about it as something you just happen to notice as you're going about your everyday life, kind of like a beautiful sunset or a breeze that sends ripples across a previously still and silent lake.
What we do in our daily life determines its quality.
If you desperately search so that you can obtain something, you will never be content with your life path.
But if you commit to a process that feels right for you, you'll notice that you start to feel less lost.
Because you're moving and growing.
You're approaching several aspects of life head on, in the moment, rather than treating life as an object to be grabbed and frantically held onto.
Reason 3 You're Feeling Lost: You Think Finding the Right Career Will Solve All Your Problems
In modern society, we are taught to believe something--that we are what we do for work.
We are indoctrinated into a mindset that the more we work, the more valuable we are.
But that's the trick of the capitalist ethos.
It treats people as cogs in a machine.
Because there is no one career that will solve all your problems.
You're an individual human being, not a part in an elaborate, industrial contraption.
And your career doesn't define you.
You can feel lost as a banker just as easily as you could feel lost as a chef or a driver of a garbage truck.
It's all about the way that you approach it.
I've met happy people who do what I would consider back-breaking work, and I've met people who make tens of thousands of dollars a month.
Money can't buy happiness, and your career path will not prevent you from feeling lost.
So, what is a person to do if a job is not the source of meaning and feeling forever content in life?
As I've alluded to again and again, you need to approach this idea with movement-- and as a process to participate in for the long term.
It's time to consider another series of questions.
Do you ever find yourself thinking that a job or a career will solve all your problems?
Do you ever think that switching to some alternative career will make you happy and put you on the path to never being lost again?
If so, why do you think that?
And if not, can you ever think of a time when you thought this way, for any pursuit in life?
Solution: The key is to not fall into this thinking trap, a trap that, by now, you've probably realized is a pattern that can apply to any life category, whether it's comparing yourself to others, finding meaning, or looking for a satisfying job.
You won't enjoy an active career if you're not the kind of person who likes being active.
An artistic career and all the struggle that comes with it won't be appealing if you're not the kind of person who has the temperament to deal with it.
So What Do You Do if You're Feeling Lost in Life?
It all comes back to who you are--and what you want out of life.
Which may feel like you're right back where you started.
But you're not.
The key is to create a framework that works for you.
Identify a bigger vision.
And then break it into steps.
Concrete, actionable steps.
If you want to explore the world, what would it take to get there?
Before that, why do you want to explore it in the first place?
Knowing why you want to do something sparks your curiosity, and it's your curiosity that will naturally help you take the baby steps to move forward.
This is what keeps us all going, day by day.
Because it's not a one-time event.
It's not one day you move in the right direction, turn a corner, and you're no longer lost.
It's a commitment and a way of being in the world.
Review the main reasons for why you're feeling lost one more time, but then pick a direction and start to create your framework for being.
It's only when you are being present that you stop seeking for the one cure to help you feel better.
"Lost" is a transient feeling.
Keep moving, and you'll see what I mean.