Author Topic: What's your life purpose?  (Read 16121 times)

fallstoclimb

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What's your life purpose?
« on: February 12, 2016, 11:20:17 AM »
At 31 I'm having a bit of an existential crisis.

I think a combo of getting my shit together at a pretty young age (married, homeowner, early in the journey but solidly on the path to FI) and deciding that we are probably not having kids is making me question a lot in my life right now.  I feel very strongly that my youth is over and that I need to start living with intention.  It seems like I'll be 40 in the blink of an eye. 

I have a good job.  I don't love it and I'm beginning to doubt whether it has any true societal value -- but I make almost 6 figures and never put in more than 40 hours a week.  We are saving close to 50% and donate generously to charity.  Charitable giving helps me deal with the fact that my job is arguably a waste of time and resources and supplies very little in the "meaning" department.  (But: why does your job need to be meaningful, you special snowflake.) I think one aspect of my existential crisis is knowing that there is a good chance I will be in the exact same job when I'm 40 -- if not the same office, almost certainly the same agency.  I plan to start taking career risks around 40, when I have the stash. I think this is a good plan but also I don't want the next 9 years to fly by.

To deal with some of my existential fears, I started putting together a pre-FIRE bucket list, a "40 by 40".  I have 35 items listed so far (I cheated a bit and put some I have already done, since I'm already a year and some months into my 30s):

- [ ] See Giant Sequoias
- [ ] Visit Yellowstone
- [ ] Stay in cabin outside Grand Tetons
- [ ] Compete in a cyclocross race
- [ ] Bike the entire C&O & GAP
- [ ] Car camp down the PNW
- [ ] Hike in Big Bend
- X See the Grand Canyon
- [ ] Grow some food & eat it
- X Present at a conference
- X Ride a horse in the desert
- [ ] Hike in all areas of our local state park
- [ ] Take a meditation class
- [ ] Vacation in Acadia National Park
- [ ] Spend 1 week in Canada
- [ ] Jump in a horse show
- [ ] Hit 50% savings rate
- [ ] Stay in cabin with dog & husband
- [ ] Learn CPR
- [ ] Take Wilderness First Aid class
- [ ] Ferment a food & eat all of it
- [ ] Be vegan for a month
- [ ] Give $10,000 (over time) to Give Directly
- [ ] Make seitan from scratch
- [ ] Read War and Peace
- [ ] Read The Power Broker
- [ ] Get published in peer-reviewed journal
- [ ] Pee outside
- [ ] Learn how to bunny hop a small log or curb
- [ ] Hike in 15 national parks (current status: 3/15)
- [ ] Average 18 mph on a specific bike route (22 miles, 1500 ft climbing)
- [ ] Sleep in tent with dog & husband
- [ ] Go swimming in local state park
- [ ] Donate $500 lump sum
- [ ] Read 100 nonfiction books

I feel pretty good about this list, in terms of making sure I make the most of my 30s.  But then also....it feels a little meaningless. 

All I ever want to do is hike and bike and cook and read, which is probably pretty evident.  These things make me feel whole and happy.  But then I will get old and what will I have accomplished, really?

I guess I'm just starting to wonder what my legacy will be, even as I think the concept of leaving behind a legacy is horrifically self-involved and even kind of self-indulgent.  But at the same time I want to live a life with meaning.  Right? 

How do the rest of you deal with these questions? 

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2016, 11:57:41 AM »
I find myself thinking of all the things I can do once I don't work full time so I might have to work on making my own list so I actually do some things before then

Yeah this is the exact reason why I created the list.  I was living in the future a little too much but really the present is pretty great too!

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2016, 12:09:16 PM »
I find myself thinking of all the things I can do once I don't work full time so I might have to work on making my own list so I actually do some things before then

Yeah this is the exact reason why I created the list.  I was living in the future a little too much but really the present is pretty great too!

This! I graduated from university at 21, bought a house at 22, got married at 24, no kids planned; we've been working towards FI since a few months after the wedding. Now, we're still at least 10 years from FIRE, but I too struggle with meaning from time to time. I could have written the OP and Aeryn's response as well. I try and find comfort in the fact that there really is no meaning at the end of the day. We live, die, and are quickly forgotten. When I'm visibly annoyed at another person (say, who cuts me off in traffic) my wife likes to tell me "It's okay, they'll be dead soon" with the implication that we'll all be dead soon and it won't matter. All you can do is enjoy the life that you have and try and make the best of it.

dachs

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2016, 01:08:33 PM »
I don't really get that "bucket-list" thing. What happens once you "achieved" all those things on the list? Are you happier afterwards? Does your life have a meaning? Would you say "Even if I died tomorrow, at least I've seen Yellowstone..."? Why do you even want to do all those things, just to be able to say that you've done them? Does it make you a better/happier/more interesting person?!

For me the "purpose of life" is having good relationships with people I like, try to improve myself and make the world a little bit better. Oh, and be happy and not regret anything, if possible.

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2016, 01:27:04 PM »
I don't really get that "bucket-list" thing. What happens once you "achieved" all those things on the list? Are you happier afterwards? Does your life have a meaning? Would you say "Even if I died tomorrow, at least I've seen Yellowstone..."? Why do you even want to do all those things, just to be able to say that you've done them? Does it make you a better/happier/more interesting person?!

For me the "purpose of life" is having good relationships with people I like, try to improve myself and make the world a little bit better. Oh, and be happy and not regret anything, if possible.

I didn't really mean for the bucket list to be the point of my post, but for me the list just serves as a nudge to focus on the here-and-now, rather than my post-FIRE life.  I have lots of plans for FIRE, but that's a full decade away, and I don't want to spend 10 years frustrated and waiting for my life to begin.

It's not about achieving, but experiencing.  It also helps get me up out of my daily routine.  For instance, swimming in the state park near us:  this is clearly not a difficult thing to achieve.  It literally just involves making a short drive in a bathing suit or quick dry clothes. But it just never occurs to us to do this (and also I'm a little bit afraid of water snakes).  So often on a hot summer day we will cut through the park on our bikes and comment on how the people in the water really know how to live life - maybe this will be the extra nudge we need to put the bikes down and jump in the water one of these days.

And, also, I don't know about Yellowstone because I haven't been there yet, but:  the Grand Canyon did make me fear death a little less. If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow, I think I would find some small comfort in the fact that I've seen the Grand Canyon (but there's so much more I want to do).

I 100% agree with your purpose of life.  I probably wouldn't say I try to improve myself but clearly lots of things on that list would fall under some sort of self improvement, if I had to categorize them.  I could and should work more on relationships.  I think it's "leaving the world a better place" that I am stuck on, but maybe I should accept this can be done in small gestures, rather than big accomplishments. 

Curbside Prophet

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2016, 01:38:01 PM »
I'm in a similar situation although I'm in my mid-30s.  I wish I had answers but I'm stuck in a similar boat.  The one thing that helps for me is volunteering.  I love dogs so I volunteer at the local shelter and do some dog training on the side. 

There's a guy by the name of Simon Sinek that does some really cool TED talks (highly recommended).  Anyway, in one of his speeches (I think it's called Leaders Eat Last) he talks about the chemicals in the brain that provide us with happiness. One of those chemicals, oxytocin, he says you receive by doing good acts for others.  But the interesting thing is that you don't get the oxytocin by giving money, you need to expend time and effort.  So maybe that's one of the issues?  Charitable giving is great but our brains are hardwired to see giving our time as more "meaningful."

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2016, 02:04:54 PM »
Would you say "Even if I died tomorrow, at least I've seen Yellowstone..."?

Yep, pretty much that.

After being emotionally scarred by the movie Up, I told my husband we needed to prioritize getting our butts to the Galapagos. It was an amazing trip.

I'd hate to die and him think "the one thing she always wanted to do, we never did". 

It's the same reason I'm hoping my father will join me on a trip to Yellowstone next year. He always talked about it when I was a kid, and while we didn't many great things, we never did that one.  If he dies and we haven't done it, I will have great regret I never tried to make it happen.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2016, 02:09:24 PM »
I giggled when I saw that the dog made the cabin invite list ahead of the husband.

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2016, 02:33:45 PM »
I giggled when I saw that the dog made the cabin invite list ahead of the husband.

I thought it was interesting "pee outside" was on the list.  That seems extraordinarily easy to accomplish.  Check it off the list OP!

But there were some really excellent things on the list. I've never given a full list thought really. We made one for our baby when we found out he wouldn't survive, but didn't complete even the few things on it- makes me sad.  My personal list has really always been one goal at a time, and then I replace it.

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2016, 02:38:41 PM »
The dog is cuter than the husband.

Re: peeing outside, I haven't attempted this since a psychologically scarring incident in Girl Scouts where I made what I now realize was the rookie mistake of pulling my pants all the way down to my ankles.  BUT this week I took the step to google "how to pee outside without peeing on your pants," and I feel empowered to make another attempt!

iowajes -- so sorry about your baby.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 02:44:36 PM by fallstoclimb »

sol

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2016, 02:41:01 PM »
For someone who seems to be struggling with issues of legacy and purpose, that list is very egocentric.  It's all about you and the things you want to feel during your short life.  Is that really the legacy you want to leave, a history of hedonism?

Because if your only purpose in life is to just feel good, opiates are far more satisfying than anything else you can do.  If you think you might want to live a life of meaning, instead of one of personal happy feelings, you probably need to revise that list.

If you don't want children, then what else are you leaving the world?  Having kids is a cop out for most folks, the answer they turn to when they realize their own lives have been meaningless and they then pin all their hopes for a meaningful existence on the ill defined future accomplishments of their descendents, instead of actually working toward something themselves.  I have the same criticism of people who devote their careers to teaching something instead of doing it; they haven't done anything except pass along the chance for someone else to do something.

So if not kids then what?  Will you discover something new?  Write a book that inspires a generation?  Build something that will last for centuries?  What will your contribution have been, 100 years hence?  How will humanity have benefited from your short life?

For some people, it's sufficient to be able to say "I was pretty happy most of the time and didn't cause any major problems" but it sounds like you may be one of the folks for whom meaning is measured by what you can give rather than what you can receive.  If I'm wrong and you're happy with your list then I won't criticize it, because we each get to write our own lists.  But if you've written it and think it might still be missing something, consider the alternative path.  We don't all live just for ourselves.

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2016, 03:24:32 PM »
For someone who seems to be struggling with issues of legacy and purpose, that list is very egocentric.  It's all about you and the things you want to feel during your short life.  Is that really the legacy you want to leave, a history of hedonism?

I agree.  This jumped out at me too.  Giving away money is an attempt to assuage this but I also don't think it's enough.

I have the same criticism of people who devote their careers to teaching something instead of doing it; they haven't done anything except pass along the chance for someone else to do something.

Irrelevant to me, but I don't think this is fair.  They are passing on the chance for many many many people to do something.  Even if they only inspire 10 people, 10 is greater than 1.

So if not kids then what?  Will you discover something new?  Write a book that inspires a generation?  Build something that will last for centuries?  What will your contribution have been, 100 years hence?  How will humanity have benefited from your short life?

For some people, it's sufficient to be able to say "I was pretty happy most of the time and didn't cause any major problems" but it sounds like you may be one of the folks for whom meaning is measured by what you can give rather than what you can receive.  If I'm wrong and you're happy with your list then I won't criticize it, because we each get to write our own lists.  But if you've written it and think it might still be missing something, consider the alternative path.  We don't all live just for ourselves.

I do think it's missing something, and I don't want to live for just myself.

But at the same time, isn't it egocentric to think that I could leave behind something that will last, when so few do?

I'm not a scientist, an engineer, or even a phd of any kind.  I no longer really believe in the field I got a master's in, and I'm fairly jaded on higher education now.  I don't like office work and I value self care highly (out of necessity), which I think is what led to such a "hedonistic" list.  So what could I offer the world?

I dabble in volunteer work, but often the causes I'd like to get involved in either have more than enough volunteers (the local horse rescue and habitat for humanity that I approached literally turn people away) or completely unsuit me (pets on wheels in an alzheimer's home was....not a success).  Plus, pre-FIRE, I am extremely protective of my free time.

I do hope to take on meaningful work when FIRED.  I want to fight for bike advocacy, and reduce inequality in my troubled city. 

I also struggle with what motivates people, a lot of the time.  In the office, the real go-getters (I'm in the solid B+ arena) thrive on power, and praise.  Even with volunteering, I think people are often motivated by drives I do not relate to:  fear of free time, religious beliefs, indulging their extraversion.

I do not seek the spotlight.  I don't think I have much more to offer than the next person, although I am privileged just by the circumstances of my birth.

But where do you begin?

FIPurpose

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2016, 03:30:43 PM »
I like the list. I would say that several of the items on your list, I want to eventually get to myself. I believe they are great for taking time to think and self-evaluate many other things.

I don't want to assume about who you are or what all your goals or ambitions are so let me know if I'm off here. The list just sounds like a big de-stressing list. It is a bunch of things to hit up after office work, because it's been such a drag for so long. Practically all the things on the list are for taking some time for yourself because so far life has been all about work and school. I think this is a healthy list for where you are. I think by the time you're close to finishing your list, you'll have a clear enough head to make a more meaningful list: A list that has you starting from the point of a completely refreshed person who is ready to work on something far better than the fallstoclimb of today can even think of.

So do the list. Take a sabbatical from full-time work. Get your list done, and I think you'll see a much clearer path forward.

BlueMR2

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2016, 03:55:38 PM »
So do the list. Take a sabbatical from full-time work. Get your list done, and I think you'll see a much clearer path forward.

OTOH.  I've completed my list and there's no clear path.  At the moment I'd say that my life's purpose is to keep my house from falling down and my cars running, because that's all I do anymore it seems.  :-)  Not a bad thing, but not the wonderful sense of meaning I thought I'd have.  Kind of looking for the "next thing", but I seem to have done all the "next things" I ever wanted to.  Interesting position to be in.

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2016, 04:09:56 PM »
The dog is cuter than the husband.

Re: peeing outside, I haven't attempted this since a psychologically scarring incident in Girl Scouts where I made what I now realize was the rookie mistake of pulling my pants all the way down to my ankles.  BUT this week I took the step to google "how to pee outside without peeing on your pants," and I feel empowered to make another attempt!

iowajes -- so sorry about your baby.

Thanks. His life would have been pretty bad; it's for the best. But it really sucks.

As for the peeing outside thing.  I usually do pull my pants most of the way down, but then do a really deep squat so I'm not centered over them.   Leaning against a tree can be helpful.  I know a few women who make it a habit to hike in skirts.

I camp a lot- peeing outside has never been a bucket list item.  :)

Nate R

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2016, 04:27:45 PM »
I find myself thinking of all the things I can do once I don't work full time so I might have to work on making my own list so I actually do some things before then

Yeah this is the exact reason why I created the list.  I was living in the future a little too much but really the present is pretty great too!

I'm way too guilty of this as well. (Says the married 30 year old who's also not having kids and bought a house at 21.)

Nate R

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2016, 04:30:04 PM »

There's a guy by the name of Simon Sinek that does some really cool TED talks (highly recommended).  Anyway, in one of his speeches (I think it's called Leaders Eat Last) he talks about the chemicals in the brain that provide us with happiness. One of those chemicals, oxytocin, he says you receive by doing good acts for others.  But the interesting thing is that you don't get the oxytocin by giving money, you need to expend time and effort.  So maybe that's one of the issues?  Charitable giving is great but our brains are hardwired to see giving our time as more "meaningful."

Or sex.

:-P


(Oxytocin is also released during/after orgasm.)

sol

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2016, 04:32:38 PM »
I seem to have done all the "next things" I ever wanted to.  Interesting position to be in.

"Now it's over I'm dead and I haven't done anything that I want, or I'm still alive and there's nothing I want to do."

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2016, 04:33:56 PM »
I find myself thinking of all the things I can do once I don't work full time so I might have to work on making my own list so I actually do some things before then

Yeah this is the exact reason why I created the list.  I was living in the future a little too much but really the present is pretty great too!

I'm way too guilty of this as well. (Says the married 30 year old who's also not having kids and bought a house at 21.)

Should we form a club?  Affluent childless-by-choice existential weirdos?


I don't want to assume about who you are or what all your goals or ambitions are so let me know if I'm off here. The list just sounds like a big de-stressing list. It is a bunch of things to hit up after office work, because it's been such a drag for so long. Practically all the things on the list are for taking some time for yourself because so far life has been all about work and school. I think this is a healthy list for where you are. I think by the time you're close to finishing your list, you'll have a clear enough head to make a more meaningful list: A list that has you starting from the point of a completely refreshed person who is ready to work on something far better than the fallstoclimb of today can even think of.

So do the list. Take a sabbatical from full-time work. Get your list done, and I think you'll see a much clearer path forward.

Yes, that is a good point.  I never had those "aimless twentysomething" years.  I had student debt, so I went straight into a serious office job.  I happened to meet my husband at 20, so I never really dated around or wandered and despite not feeling like an unworldly person I have in fact lived in my birth state my entire life.  (Although I've moved around it a bunch!) 

But yes, it was school and then work and debt payoff and having the money to travel is a very new thing in my life.

I like your attitude -- perhaps this will help me figure out what can come next.  (And I don't need a sabbatical to do all of these things, over a decade -- I'm lucky to have pretty generous leave at work.  I just can't spend all my vacations at the beach or Disney like most people do.)
« Last Edit: February 12, 2016, 04:35:38 PM by fallstoclimb »

Pigeon

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2016, 04:35:16 PM »
I think we are biological organisms, similar to any other biological organism, without any particular lofty purpose for being here. 

I think my job makes the world a slightly better place.  I'm raising a couple of kids who are turning into responsible and kind people.  I do some volunteer work and donate to some charities.  I don't feel any need to have a long list of things to accomplish or experience for personal fulfillment.  I'm pretty happy as is.  I guess I'm lazy.

CanuckExpat

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2016, 05:32:52 PM »
At 31 I'm having a bit of an existential crisis.

I think a combo of getting my shit together at a pretty young age (married, homeowner, early in the journey but solidly on the path to FI) and deciding that we are probably not having kids is making me question a lot in my life right now.  I feel very strongly that my youth is over and that I need to start living with intention.  It seems like I'll be 40 in the blink of an eye. 

A few people have mentioned about not having kids and that possibly contributing to this feeling. I don't think this is right.. having kids doesn't necessarily give you meaning in life, it just keeps you busy, and perhaps eats time. Some people may find their meaning in life in raising children, but it is not a silver bullet.

My view on the meaning of life mixes from existentialism (there is no predefined meaning of life, and we define it for ourselves by our actions) to nihilism (there is no external meaning of life, and it is as meaningless to ask about our purpose in life as it is to ask about the purpose of a rock).

Nice bucket list btw :)

mrpercentage

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2016, 05:37:07 PM »
Sounds like Ecclesiastes.

Life is a gift. Do what you want with it. Everyone wants to know they made a difference and that their life has meaning but if you pull back far enough, if you look at time on a grand scale, I think you will find it to be ultimately meanness. Do not confuse that with being worthless. It is very precious.

I used to have a bucket list. I used to keep a huge list of all the books I have read, goals, things I wanted to do, and then one day I looked at it and thought--- who gives a shit. If it meant enough to me I would just make it happen. Almost everything of great value in my life was completely out of my control and spontaneous. I am grateful for that. Some of it I thought I wouldn't like and they turned out to be my favorite things.

Sometimes preachers talk about a God sized whole that we all try to fill. Believe or don't but the feeling they talk about is real and experienced by many. I don't go to church and don't read the bible much anymore-- but I believe. I just think most of the church now days are less concerned about people and more concerned about the petty details of what they do and how they "should" live there lives and what they "should" be but are not. We were not made with a cookie cutter. Be you. Be grateful for what was given to you because it is all on lease. Money, people, careers, and abilities can all be taken on a moments notice. Over look faults whenever you can because when you lose someone for good you may realize that those faults didn't even matter.

Ecclesiastes 1English Standard Version (ESV)

All Is Vanity
1 The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens[c] to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
    among those who come after.
The Vanity of Wisdom
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

CindyBS

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2016, 06:37:04 PM »
IMO, the purpose of life is to be free from the list.

The list is just expectations, although self imposed, still expectations - just like others expectations put in place by society.  Such as "your job should be rewarding, you should want to have kids, you should do/be all that you can by filling every moment of your life."

I'm a big believer in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and that self actualization is the goal of life.  I'm not sure I have actually attained that, but I found many of the concerns you raised melted away as I mastered esteem and self acceptance and worked toward actualization. 

I do have things I'd like to accomplish and some goals, but have completely abandoned the "do this by this age" lists that I used to have.

Good Luck.

SeanMC

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2016, 07:34:24 PM »
The list is a good way to brain storm ideas - it doesn't have to be a literal LIST that you must CHECK OFF BOXES. I think the lists become a problem when your experience becomes "I am doing this and now I can check it off the list and say that I did it" rather than being able to just be present in the moment and have the experience.

One good thing is that it gives insight into the types of things you either would like to do more of or that you think you "should" do more of (usually because of the type of person you think you would be if you did). Over time, if you keep listing things that you don't do but that are super easy, it probably means that you don't ACTUALLY want to do these things.

On the giving $ vs. volunteering, I have had a hard time with this too. The most needy causes/people need your $ far more than your time. It is hard to keep the mental attitude of "I work a random/non-giving job that pays me well enough to give more back than if I tried to work a more 'giving' type of job." But that's actually true for many people.

Feeling like you are a do-gooding person by making it your career or job can - in some instances - be a very selfish choice, rather than an altruistic one.


fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #24 on: February 13, 2016, 07:47:13 AM »
I think its interesting that people are having such varied reactions to the list.  For me it doesn't feel like expectations or accomplishments or "shoulds", its just a list of things I'd like to experience that I maybe need a little bit of a nudge to actually make happen -- either because I'm a little bit afraid of them (bunny hop, jump in horse show, pee outside, swim in river) or because it takes work/planning (travel, journal publication, reading certain books, averaging 18 mph).  And the only reason there's any kind of deadline on the list is because the whole point is to make the most of my pre-FIRE life.

I do however agree that it is self-indulgent and egocentric and that is what I'm struggling with.

As for struggling w/ meaning, for me it was a huge breakthrough when I figured out what my Core Values were. Now when I am choosing where to spend my energy or making a decision, I ask myself if it somehow contributes to fulfilling one of my core values.

For me, I chose 5: Aliveness, Connection, Discovery, Simplicity, and Warmth. They all have several different meanings to me. For example, "connection" represents relationships with others, supporting people I care about, and making time for people, but also feeling connected to my geographic place in the world, my community, my heritage, and to something larger than myself.

I just googled "list of core values" and found a giant list of 400 words. I read through it & narrowed it down to about 40 that jumped out at me, and then kept whittling it down to these 5. It was a VERY eye-opening experience, and has stayed with me ever since.

I like this a lot and I may adopt this approach too!

On the giving $ vs. volunteering, I have had a hard time with this too. The most needy causes/people need your $ far more than your time. It is hard to keep the mental attitude of "I work a random/non-giving job that pays me well enough to give more back than if I tried to work a more 'giving' type of job." But that's actually true for many people.

Feeling like you are a do-gooding person by making it your career or job can - in some instances - be a very selfish choice, rather than an altruistic one.

I have suspected but not known that $ is more valuable than time.  Is this widely accepted?  Are there good books to read on the subject?  I've done some reading (just blogs & articles) on altruistic giving, but it always focused on the best use of your money, not money versus time.  Of course the success of groups like Give Directly certainly speak to the importance of giving money.

That's a really interesting take that it can actually be more selfish than altruistic to leave a high paying stupid job for a low paying do-gooder one.  I'm a federal employee, so my job is funded by taxpayers (thanks, y'all!) and while the value of my specific job is questionable (the resource I work on has great potential but is just a disaster right now) -- I do enjoy the idea that I basically get to redirect federal dollars into causes I support, via charitable donations. 

If I quit my job, my position wouldn't be eliminated, it would be filled with someone else who probably wouldn't donate as much as I do.  So is that enough meaning/altruism for me?  I don't know.

Of course this will complicate things when I am FI and want to leave my job!  But then also to think that one day I may be able to work just 2 or 3 days a week and give away 50% or more of my income (maybe all of it some years?) feels pretty good.

ender

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #25 on: February 13, 2016, 08:17:56 AM »
Quote
I plan to start taking career risks around 40, when I have the stash. I think this is a good plan but also I don't want the next 9 years to fly by.

Why wait until 40?

You are worried your life is basically meaningless and yet are totally ok waiting another 15% of your life, until you are FI, at a job you find mindless and pointless before you start taking risks?

Look, I'm about as calculating/planner as it gets. But I just recently took a new job and one of the driving reasons for the move was that I was way too young to be trading my life and life energy for security/stability. I was pretty much on the guaranteed plan for FI with no risk at my megacorp, nearly 100% job security, a guaranteed slow career progression, a 40-hour week thing, great benefits, but it was fairly mindless for me. I didn't feel energized and excited for life as a result of my job.

It feels like you have accepted your 30s being miserable and lame at work and are trying to cope by doing "cool things" outside of work.

Quote
I guess I'm just starting to wonder what my legacy will be, even as I think the concept of leaving behind a legacy is horrifically self-involved and even kind of self-indulgent.

So maybe I'm boring, but my purpose/mission statement for who I am, after many painstaking hours of brainstorming and editing over several years, is the following:

  • I am a seeker of Truth, pursuing deeper knowledge of God and the world I live in.
  • I am a man, embracing appropriate responsibility for myself and those I interact with.
  • I am honest, maintaining integrity in all interactions with others - whether private or public.
  • I am passionate, courageously living each day and hour, never neglecting the gift of life.
  • I am dedicated, faithfully accepting and working towards completion of personal and professional obligations.
  • I am responsible and diligent in my time, health, and fitness, living a life worth imitating in light of the blessing I have been given.

Very deliberately summarized as "Be Life."  Life referring to two things, reflecting eternal life from God as well as being excited about life in general. And yes, obviously my Christian beliefs drove that list and the summary. Those things matter to me and drive my life.

The things that contribute to fulfilling what I wrote above are things like mentoring others, volunteering, being generous to others with time/resources, being a good friend, and other things. But more relationally based than self-based.

Partially because to me nearly all the items on my list of my mission statement are others focused - not self focused.



fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #26 on: February 13, 2016, 09:01:31 AM »
Quote
I plan to start taking career risks around 40, when I have the stash. I think this is a good plan but also I don't want the next 9 years to fly by.

Why wait until 40?

You are worried your life is basically meaningless and yet are totally ok waiting another 15% of your life, until you are FI, at a job you find mindless and pointless before you start taking risks?

Look, I'm about as calculating/planner as it gets. But I just recently took a new job and one of the driving reasons for the move was that I was way too young to be trading my life and life energy for security/stability. I was pretty much on the guaranteed plan for FI with no risk at my megacorp, nearly 100% job security, a guaranteed slow career progression, a 40-hour week thing, great benefits, but it was fairly mindless for me. I didn't feel energized and excited for life as a result of my job.

It feels like you have accepted your 30s being miserable and lame at work and are trying to cope by doing "cool things" outside of work.

I'm hardly miserable.  I am a realist. 

Like many here, I don't like office work.  I just don't.  I'm not motivated by whatever it is that motivates the go-getters at work.  I am not looking for energy and excitement from a white-collar job. 

"Career risks" was shortcut for a few different options I have down the line:  1) moving to the private sector, to chase higher pay for a year or two before FI/burnout, 2) moving to PT in my current position to open up more free time, or 3) quitting and getting more involved in do-gooder low/no pay work  (although as SeanMC has pointed out, that may be a selfish choice in some ways)

I'm a delayed-gratification type of person.  I would rather work another 9-12 years in my current situation and then have financial freedom.  I think most people here are in the same boat and I'm surprised that's your criticism. 

As far as soul-sucking jobs go, mine is actually pretty fantastic.  I bike to work, which is difficult to do in the suburbs, and this has allowed the husband and I to share one car.  (And I love where I live, for now, because of our proximity to an amazing state park).  I make enough money to buy bikes and ride horses and save for ER and still give away lots of money.  I work reasonable hours and have one or two excellent mentors at work and am being, honestly, pushed into leadership positions that I don't necessarily want -- but I think that is a good problem to have. I am challenged and I learn new things. I have generous leave and flexible hours.

Now, I don't like office politics or being chained to a desk 40 hours a week, but I would be an idiot to walk away from what I have right now.  I feel incredibly lucky to be on the path that we are on.  That doesn't mean I don't want to live my life with intention and think about what comes now, and what comes next. 

mozar

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #27 on: February 13, 2016, 10:36:46 AM »
"Individuals should embrace the absurd condition of human existence while also defiantly continuing to explore and search for meaning."
-Albert Camus

ender

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2016, 10:41:19 AM »
Like many here, I don't like office work.  I just don't.  I'm not motivated by whatever it is that motivates the go-getters at work.  I am not looking for energy and excitement from a white-collar job. 

Then... why are you spending so much of your life doing that?

It sounds like you absolutely love the outdoors, given your list of items. Have you considered trying a dramatic career shift? There are many jobs (which perhaps won't pay $100k/year, though) which you could do that sound like would connect much more with your life interests.

The whole purpose of FIRE is to do things we want doing. I just read something about someone here who is a musician and loves his job. He doesn't make much, but loves it - pursuing FIRE might not let him retire at 30 or whatever but it lets him do what he loves doing. Is that actually a bad situation for that person? That being said, we don't know what your motivating factors for FIRE are so it's hard to know if this is a meaningful thought exercise or not.

Are you limited in your career path somehow? Would you trade working several more years (let's say 15 vs 9) if you found your job more fulfilling?



It feels like you are waiting for your life to get started until you are FI. You somewhat  Having a list of things to do in that time period might help avoid that, but if the things you feel passionately about doing with your life have to wait until you are FI, I think it's worthwhile to consider whether or not you want to continue waiting until that happens.

Also, another important thing to consider is that none of us have any guarantee we will actually ever get to be FI. Many people here have the majority of their FI money in investments - what if the market tanks for the next 10-15 years? We can assume things, but realistically we don't know what will happen. Will you be sad if that happens and you don't get to FIRE for another 15 years? what about 20 years? What if you die or get terminally ill?

These questions can drive one to pursue FIRE with reckless abandon, but I think it's also wise to consider how that can many years of our lives to become only a tool. Everyone can process/rationalize this differently. Some people find meaning through the process, some don't. One of the advantages to me of having thought through my mission statement as comprehensively as I have is that it makes it eas(ier) for me to identify when this is the case, or not.

FI/RE are tools to a rich and meaningful life. But they are not the only tools. It is important to not blindly pursue only FI/RE as the sole meaning to your life, if it's not really providing meaning.

I don't say this as guidance or "do this" but more just things to consider. And questions to ponder over.

SeanMC

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2016, 01:42:20 PM »

I have suspected but not known that $ is more valuable than time.  Is this widely accepted?  Are there good books to read on the subject?  I've done some reading (just blogs & articles) on altruistic giving, but it always focused on the best use of your money, not money versus time.  Of course the success of groups like Give Directly certainly speak to the importance of giving money.

For resources - William MacAskill published a book this year that I haven't had a chance to read yet (Doing Good Better) about effective altruism. Peter Singer has several well-regarded books on the topic.

I think it is "widely accepted," if you agree with the values espoused. The main principles behind effective altruism are that the marginal value of your charity $ have the most impact on the world's most impoverished - providing clean water, treatments for worms and other parasites, etc. There is simply no way your (limited) time serving some first world population could compete with the impact of the $ in general. This is especially true if you are working some random 'public benefit' job that someone else could do equally or nearly equally as well. And, of course, as you noted - it's a larger net benefit if you give more than your job replacement would.

That said: I think feeling good about what you do on a daily basis is important, even if it is "selfish." Also, someone has to do hands-on, direct service work too. If you can find an area where you both enjoy the actual work/lifestyle with it and where you can make more of a unique contribution than the next person on their hiring list, all the better.

kpd905

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2016, 01:54:13 PM »
Do you live near any long distance hiking trails?  We live close to one so we have made the decision to both section hike the entire thing, and go to all of their trail building events throughout the year.  It may not be much, but if I can help build a trail that others can enjoy for years and years after I'm gone, that is a good enough legacy for me. 

We haven't donated actual money to them yet, just our time, but when we buy a house and start itemizing I will start giving them $1,000 a year or so.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2016, 02:16:14 PM by kpd905 »

tj

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #31 on: February 13, 2016, 02:12:26 PM »
This is something I've struggled with too. I haven't married yet, but once I got in the routine of a stable job and amassing wealth and watching hte brokerage account get bigger and bigger....what is the point if you're not satisfied? The best thing to do would be to find a way to be satisfied with your down time in your current situation. There's no guarantee you'd be any more satisfied in a different job situation.

I ended up selling my condo and at this point I just hope to have a fresh start somewhere else, but it does have a sense of feeling like kicking the can down the road at times. But I literally can create a life however I wish it to look in a new environment, with nobody to judge me from previous interactions. I don't blame you for wanting to stay put and ride out the stable job until you feel like you've had enough completely. There is the risk that you won't make it that long, but that's just the risk have to choose if you want to take or not. There's no shame in keeping a cushy job that funds a fulfilling life in your free time.

It's very odd to me on this forum....saving money and living minimally is admirable  if you have a boat load of debt to pay off, but if you're good to go and just amassing wealth to have more freedom later, apparently that's not so admirable, as evidenced by some of the comments in this thread as well as other threads...
« Last Edit: February 13, 2016, 02:14:59 PM by tj »

coolistdude

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #32 on: February 13, 2016, 02:46:15 PM »
Sounds like Ecclesiastes.

Life is a gift. Do what you want with it. Everyone wants to know they made a difference and that their life has meaning but if you pull back far enough, if you look at time on a grand scale, I think you will find it to be ultimately meanness. Do not confuse that with being worthless. It is very precious.

I used to have a bucket list. I used to keep a huge list of all the books I have read, goals, things I wanted to do, and then one day I looked at it and thought--- who gives a shit. If it meant enough to me I would just make it happen. Almost everything of great value in my life was completely out of my control and spontaneous. I am grateful for that. Some of it I thought I wouldn't like and they turned out to be my favorite things.

Sometimes preachers talk about a God sized whole that we all try to fill. Believe or don't but the feeling they talk about is real and experienced by many. I don't go to church and don't read the bible much anymore-- but I believe. I just think most of the church now days are less concerned about people and more concerned about the petty details of what they do and how they "should" live there lives and what they "should" be but are not. We were not made with a cookie cutter. Be you. Be grateful for what was given to you because it is all on lease. Money, people, careers, and abilities can all be taken on a moments notice. Over look faults whenever you can because when you lose someone for good you may realize that those faults didn't even matter.

Ecclesiastes 1English Standard Version (ESV)

All Is Vanity
1 The words of the Preacher,[a] the son of David, king in Jerusalem.

2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
    at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
    but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
    and hastens[c] to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
    and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
    and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
    but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
    there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
    a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
    nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
It has been already
    in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,[d]
    nor will there be any remembrance
of later things[e] yet to be
    among those who come after.
The Vanity of Wisdom
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart[f] to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity[g] and a striving after wind.[h]

15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,
    and what is lacking cannot be counted.
16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
    and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

+1. A lot of wisdom and thought went into your reply. Answering how you are significant in a mortal existence is essential to finding purpose. I haven't found anything that fills the hole other than interacting with God on some level. Sometimes it is the daily life, where nothing is significantly different, but when your Creator tells you "nice. Keep following me. I love you." your soul finds significance and purpose. Not looking to get preachy, just explaining how I approach this question.

Your reason is also why I don't have a bucket list. I have a few goals, but I don't need to choose a bunch of actions to make me smile at the end of my life. I'll smile knowing I provided and took good care of my family, I did good work (FIRE or not), I helped many people, God gave me a good life, and knows me on a personal level. The stuff in the garage or my closet is just a burden for the people outliving me, same with the photos of random places, unless they are redeemed by experiences with people.

I approach FIRE and life the same way, with the end in mind and thankful for everything God loans to me.

tj

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2016, 03:15:42 PM »
Quote
I used to have a bucket list. I used to keep a huge list of all the books I have read, goals, things I wanted to do, and then one day I looked at it and thought--- who gives a shit. If it meant enough to me I would just make it happen. Almost everything of great value in my life was completely out of my control and spontaneous. I am grateful for that. Some of it I thought I wouldn't like and they turned out to be my favorite things.

I like this. When I see people with huge lists, I get the sense that they are trying to micromanage their life. I'm not going to knock that method, but I don't think it is for me. The concern is that if you're too laidback - you might not accomplish as much as you would otherwise. But maybe that's perfectly okay?


CanuckExpat

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2016, 10:02:13 PM »
I have suspected but not known that $ is more valuable than time.  Is this widely accepted? 

From the effective altruism camp, one of the arguments goes something like this:

"
Imagine you are a thoughtful 22-year-old college graduate who wants to make a great difference in the world. Many such people try to get a job with Oxfam, the Gates Foundation, or any number of excellent charities. That's fine. But if you don’t get that job at Oxfam, somebody just as smart and generous will get it instead. You’re probably not much better than that “next person up.” But imagine you go to work on Wall Street…

Yes, imagine you work in investment banking. You make $100,000 and give away half to charity. The “next person up” would not have done the same, so you have created $50,000 of good that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. Even better, your donation could pay for one or two workers at Oxfam—or any effective cause you chose to donate to.
"

See also To save the world, don’t get a job at a charity; go work on Wall Street

- [ ] Give $10,000 (over time) to Give Directly
...
[ ] Donate $500 lump sum


BTW, given your incomes and plans to FIRE, you might want to check your donations plans to see that you are doing it most efficiently. It might be better to give all $10,000 (or more) at once, or at least claim the deduction at once, through a donor advised fund, instead of petering out small amounts year over year.

There is a fair bit of discussion on the forum in different parts, and several blog posts that talk about it, here is an in depth analysis

CanuckExpat

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2016, 10:03:40 PM »
Oh ya, and for other bucket lists resources, here is this currently on-going thread: What's on your Bucket List? Here's mine..

fallstoclimb

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2016, 09:25:28 AM »
GUESS WHO PEED OUTSIDE THIS WEEKEND!

So. Liberating.

"
Imagine you are a thoughtful 22-year-old college graduate who wants to make a great difference in the world. Many such people try to get a job with Oxfam, the Gates Foundation, or any number of excellent charities. That's fine. But if you don’t get that job at Oxfam, somebody just as smart and generous will get it instead. You’re probably not much better than that “next person up.” But imagine you go to work on Wall Street…

Yes, imagine you work in investment banking. You make $100,000 and give away half to charity. The “next person up” would not have done the same, so you have created $50,000 of good that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. Even better, your donation could pay for one or two workers at Oxfam—or any effective cause you chose to donate to.
"

This is a little bit of a bummer in terms of career happiness but it makes a lot of sense.  Although it makes me wonder how the calculus changes if instead of a prestigious but low-paying nonprofit job, you are considering a low-paying helping profession with projected shortages.  At that point I suppose you are making moral decisions about who is more needy -- the recipients of your donation dollars or the recipients of your care.  Probably, the donation dollar recipients, as any recipient of your care already has the privilege of living in a 1st world country (unless you travel). 

For resources - William MacAskill published a book this year that I haven't had a chance to read yet (Doing Good Better) about effective altruism. Peter Singer has several well-regarded books on the topic.

I just put a hold on Doing Good Better at the library.  Thanks for the rec!

It's very odd to me on this forum....saving money and living minimally is admirable  if you have a boat load of debt to pay off, but if you're good to go and just amassing wealth to have more freedom later, apparently that's not so admirable, as evidenced by some of the comments in this thread as well as other threads...

Yeah, I think the criticism is a little unfounded, but then you see stories like GuitarStv's thread of a best friend with terminal cancer at 36 (!).  There's certainly no guarantee.  That said, I like to prepare for the most likely outcome, and the most likely outcome is that I will live until a ripe old age.  My biggest risk is that I'll be hit by a car while cycling, but I'm not willing to change my life because of it.

It sounds like you absolutely love the outdoors, given your list of items. Have you considered trying a dramatic career shift? There are many jobs (which perhaps won't pay $100k/year, though) which you could do that sound like would connect much more with your life interests.

...

Are you limited in your career path somehow? Would you trade working several more years (let's say 15 vs 9) if you found your job more fulfilling?

Unfortunately I am not aware of a single outdoorsy job that would pay even half of what I'm making now, which would add much more than 6 years to our FIRE plans.  Please suggest some if you know of any. 


It feels like you are waiting for your life to get started until you are FI. You somewhat  Having a list of things to do in that time period might help avoid that, but if the things you feel passionately about doing with your life have to wait until you are FI, I think it's worthwhile to consider whether or not you want to continue waiting until that happens.

Also, another important thing to consider is that none of us have any guarantee we will actually ever get to be FI. Many people here have the majority of their FI money in investments - what if the market tanks for the next 10-15 years? We can assume things, but realistically we don't know what will happen. Will you be sad if that happens and you don't get to FIRE for another 15 years? what about 20 years? What if you die or get terminally ill?

These questions can drive one to pursue FIRE with reckless abandon, but I think it's also wise to consider how that can many years of our lives to become only a tool. Everyone can process/rationalize this differently. Some people find meaning through the process, some don't. One of the advantages to me of having thought through my mission statement as comprehensively as I have is that it makes it eas(ier) for me to identify when this is the case, or not.

FI/RE are tools to a rich and meaningful life. But they are not the only tools. It is important to not blindly pursue only FI/RE as the sole meaning to your life, if it's not really providing meaning.

I don't say this as guidance or "do this" but more just things to consider. And questions to ponder over.


I really don't feel like I am waiting for my life to begin. I do sometimes live too much in the future where I will have more flexibility, but that is basically just looking forward to a time where I get to do more of what I do now.

I will admit that sometimes I have moments at work where I am in the middle of a conversation with someone and get overwhelmed with a feeling of "I can't do this anymore."

I get where you are coming from and I realized that I may have given the same advice if I were reading this from someone else's perspective.  I think that in general people have many more options than they want to admit to themselves, and that people live in a cage of their own making.

For me, though, I'm pretty happy with where I am right now.  I think I have an unbelievably good life.  I don't like my job but that money and flexibility let me spend lots of time doing things that I love. 

The point of this post and this existential crisis is that I am trying to lay the best groundwork now for a fulfilling and meaningful life.  Giving money away and volunteering a little more in my community and my city may be enough for me.  This thread has also encouraged me to consider moving to a different area in my agency where I could more directly protect the most vulnerable of the people my agency serves. 

I've shied away from those jobs because I'd lose most of the tasks I enjoy doing at work (quiet heads down work) and would have to do more of what I hate (meetings, arguing, managing), but I was thinking about the conversation here.  The next person to take my position would more or less do my job the same way I do.  It may slow our group down to lose my expertise but they would recover.  It wouldn't have a lot of impact and there's a good chance the new person would be better than me at certain aspects of my job.  But, if I move into the more political position and dedicate myself to serving the vulnerable -- that may be unique.  Because a lot of people who work in those areas are maybe more concerned with their own career progression, which I have zero concerns about.

So maybe I can find a little more meaning there, while also having money to give away and time to spend outside.  It's something I'm going to consider.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #37 on: February 15, 2016, 10:54:50 AM »
Cntrl+F finds not a single person answered "Smoke Weed".  This forum is really slipping.

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2016, 02:16:46 PM »
Smoke Weed ( :

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2016, 02:27:13 PM »
My goals, in rough order of priority:

1. Achieve a sense of freedom, happiness, and security. (IOW, "FIRE")

After that:

2. Have great relationships with my family (move closer to most of them, visit the rest more).
3. Experience as much of the world as possible, and learn as much as I can from it (read, travel, etc).
4. Stay engaged as long as I live and contribute useful ideas to the lives of those around me.
5. Try to make the world a better place (give spare time, money, and energy to worthy causes).

Jet9

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #40 on: February 16, 2016, 07:55:58 PM »
Following, and hoping to join the club! Thank you, OP, for voicing ideas which ring true with me which hadn't yet solidified in my mind. I love and am inspired by your list as well as the idea of writing your personal set of values as a compass for living that others posted. I'll be revisiting this thread to try some of the avenues of thought you all have posted.


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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #41 on: March 21, 2016, 05:44:01 AM »
I don't really have one, but prompted to come up with one just now, it would probably be those wise words of Bill and Ted "Be excellent to each other"
I love someone more than myself (my wife) and if an opportunity to help or be kind to someone pops up in front of me- I will jump on it :) This has always been enough for me, and based on the way my life has turned out so far- seems to be the right approach for me. (We also are happy with no kids choice)
I'm not goal driven however, and typically see this as an issue for those that are. We attended a very expensive Yoga retreat a few years ago- my wife was into Yoga and wanted to experience a high end retreat and I went because she wanted me to. It was amazing the amount of (all financially successful, and highly driven) people that were searching for answers because their "goals" had not given them what they needed. It was an eye opener, and when asked why I was there, I felt a little bad about telling them "just to try something I've never done before" :)
For me, being present and thankful keeps me happy and satisfied. There are so many amazing things to marvel and wonder about, but people get so used to (programmed) to chasing the next thing they lose out. Present and thankful has become cliche because so many people parrot it but don't really take the time to find some solitude and really dwell on those gifts until they really and truly stick. Solitude for humans is a must, but (and especially now in our time) the multitudes of distraction and useless information fired at us every second of the day keeps people from really grasping important concepts like these. Good luck to you!


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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #42 on: March 21, 2016, 07:27:36 AM »
Quote
Life is a gift. Do what you want with it. Everyone wants to know they made a difference and that their life has meaning but if you pull back far enough, if you look at time on a grand scale, I think you will find it to be ultimately meanness. Do not confuse that with being worthless. It is very precious.

My view is very similar to this.  The vast majority of people who have lived, who will ever live, will just be forgotten.  Their memories gone, accomplishments gone.  I also agree that searching for meaning is often fruitless.  Meaning finds you when you least expect it.  The key is being open to it as much as possible.  Constantly chasing experiences is not much different than chasing things or money - it is the constant longing and aching for something more. 

If I have a core value these days it is summed up in two words:  Make Space. 

Make space in your life for other people, make space for wisdom, for love, for curiosity, make space in your life for other points of view.  Make space to just be yourself.  Stop concentrating on what you don't have, what you think you need, what you can get out of life.  Instead notice what is around you every day.  People have opportunities every day to make some else's day better, to add value to the world, but they are focused internally or on some external goal, and they are missing out on the life that is all around them.


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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #43 on: March 22, 2016, 12:04:06 PM »
a little late here and surprised no one said this yet...

I am fairly religious(I don't think you have to be to hear this, btw) so I have never really had this problem to this degree but I did go through a phase of "ok, I go to church, don't cheat on my wife, don't steal...., now what?" I agree with Sol kids can be a cop out unless you raise them with intention (of making them better people than just shuffling along, etc), almost (not trying to sound religious just lack of a better word) disciples(mine are pretty young so I have not exactly figured out this yet). but beyond kids what are we to do?

Try to live by the Golden Rule, "Do to others, as you would want them to do to you.." It took me a long time to figure out what this meant for me. I won't elaborate other than to say you should contemplate a lot about what you are doing. It will basically be my 'work' once I FIRE but I'll move into this as much as possible before then too. Try to keep it personal, stay out of politics or some social goal. If doing something gives a sense of accomplishment or power then you are probably doing it wrong.

You probably understand that the bucket list is a form of hedonism, similar to materialism (not good). Maybe you still do some of those things but because they seem fun and a good way to take a break or better understand the world but if I was you I would not have regrets b/c I never saw 'x'.

golden1

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #44 on: March 22, 2016, 01:17:07 PM »
One could argue that religion is a cop out for the meaning of life in a similar way that kids are.  Many people don't consciously choose religion or children, they just follow patterns that their peers and families set out for them without really thinking about what they really want to do.

I am a bit older than some on this thread, but I have found that "meaning" changes naturally with age and experience.  What was meaningful to me at 10, 20, 30 has changed dramatically, which is why I boiled my core value to be open and present and to let meaning show itself in the world around me.  Now, I am not arguing total passivity here.  You can't just sit in a chair and hope that meaningful experiences find you, you do have to get out there and seek them out, but it doesn't have to be extreme or costly.  It can be as easy as talking to someone at work that you normally wouldn't have a conversation with.  Or walking in a part of the city that you are unfamiliar with.  Try out a new skill or take a class in something.  All of these things take you to places in your mind that you would never expect.  The idea is to attempt to bring more to the world than you take from it and this can be done in a large variety of ways. 

As far as the Golden rule, I used to believe in it, but I find it lacking.  There are a lot of people who would not want me to treat them in the same way I want to be treated.  The golden rule assumes that everyone wants the same things.  You have to meet people where they are to some extent. 

hoping2retire35

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #45 on: March 22, 2016, 02:28:24 PM »
One could argue that religion is a cop out for the meaning of life in a similar way that kids are.  Many people don't consciously choose religion or children, they just follow patterns that their peers and families set out for them without really thinking about what they really want to do.

I am a bit older than some on this thread, but I have found that "meaning" changes naturally with age and experience.  What was meaningful to me at 10, 20, 30 has changed dramatically, which is why I boiled my core value to be open and present and to let meaning show itself in the world around me.  Now, I am not arguing total passivity here.  You can't just sit in a chair and hope that meaningful experiences find you, you do have to get out there and seek them out, but it doesn't have to be extreme or costly.  It can be as easy as talking to someone at work that you normally wouldn't have a conversation with.  Or walking in a part of the city that you are unfamiliar with.  Try out a new skill or take a class in something.  All of these things take you to places in your mind that you would never expect.  The idea is to attempt to bring more to the world than you take from it and this can be done in a large variety of ways. 

As far as the Golden rule, I used to believe in it, but I find it lacking.  There are a lot of people who would not want me to treat them in the same way I want to be treated.  The golden rule assumes that everyone wants the same things.  You have to meet people where they are to some extent.

I wouldn't get too caught up in the specifics if you are thinking about a Golden Rule guide. Just because I want a double chili cheesburger does not mean everyone else does. think of it more along the lines of what your doing all the time. It is not some activity you do twice a week for two hours at a time, it is what you do or are thinking of doing all the time. I would try to think in a different scale than what you might about the rest of your life. So if you are living a contemporary lifestyle you work ~40 hours a week and spend the rest of the time pursuing your own personal goals. However if you decide to live by (a version) of the golden rule then your goal is to pay your basic expenses then the rest go to a charity that you volunteer (or outright run) and work in your time from work.  Another version of this would be that you had the epiphany that there are a lot of children that need to be adopted so you decide to adopt as many kids as you can handle. It would be a full time 'job' even if you were not FIRED and kept your day job.

Obviously these are somewhat extreme examples and we can all get fried and just need to take a vacation to Yellowstone :), but I guess if you try to model your existence of working to help others. I would just try different things and think about what you want to improve; put your self in someone else's shoes that you may think has fallen on hard times or bad luck or whatever, help that person(I mean people in that situation).

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #46 on: March 22, 2016, 02:47:57 PM »
Why limit it to just religion or children? People can choose most anything out of some societal pressure instead of out of personal interest. I don't think that's always bad though. If everyone had to decide absolutely everything for themselves, we would become wrapped up in forever trying to find the best thing for us to do. Society has decided a lot of things for us that we take for granted that save us a lot of time from having to figure out. Sometimes this causes problems, but I'd say more often than not human customs/ societal pressures are a net positive.

I believe we need to continue to improve society as a whole, but realize that it's not bad to be somewhat dependent on what other's expect. There needs to be a balance between being ourselves and being who society wants us to be. Being needed by society and accepted by it is also important, but being nothing more than what is expected leaves you soulless.

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #47 on: March 23, 2016, 04:20:52 PM »
Should we form a club?  Affluent childless-by-choice existential weirdos?

I'm in! I can definitely relate. I've been thinking a lot about this topic, especially since turning 40 a few months ago. I do think that having kids can delay this existential naval-gazing simply because once you have a kid, you're often too busy with basic survival to contemplate such things. Since I'm voluntarily childfree and striving to be work-free, this begs the question of what exactly AM I doing to do with my life? I know what I don't want out of life but am trying to figure out what I do want. I'm passionate about animal rescue so I think that will be a component of it, though it can be frustrating and draining so I don't think I'd want to spend all my time doing that. I've also been actively working on developing a more spiritual view of life (used to be very involved in organized religion, had some issues with it, and now am exploring a more spiritual but less dogmatic approach). So I guess I do fall into the bucket of people who find their purpose in "(fur) kids and religion." I think there are plenty of other ways to find meaning other than that though. I do think it's good to actively think about it rather than to default to what society considers normal.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2016, 04:45:22 PM by azure975 »

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #48 on: March 24, 2016, 07:34:00 AM »
Should we form a club?  Affluent childless-by-choice existential weirdos?

I'm in! I can definitely relate. I've been thinking a lot about this topic, especially since turning 40 a few months ago. I do think that having kids can delay this existential naval-gazing simply because once you have a kid, you're often too busy with basic survival to contemplate such things. Since I'm voluntarily childfree and striving to be work-free, this begs the question of what exactly AM I doing to do with my life? I know what I don't want out of life but am trying to figure out what I do want. I'm passionate about animal rescue so I think that will be a component of it, though it can be frustrating and draining so I don't think I'd want to spend all my time doing that. I've also been actively working on developing a more spiritual view of life (used to be very involved in organized religion, had some issues with it, and now am exploring a more spiritual but less dogmatic approach). So I guess I do fall into the bucket of people who find their purpose in "(fur) kids and religion." I think there are plenty of other ways to find meaning other than that though. I do think it's good to actively think about it rather than to default to what society considers normal.

I'll join the club as well, though I'm not a fan of pets or religion. I'll have to find another path.

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Re: What's your life purpose?
« Reply #49 on: March 24, 2016, 04:48:54 PM »
Wow, fantastic discussion everyone!  I have also been pondering this a lot lately, along with deciding which day will be my final day at work.

wynr