What’s it all about? It’s a question that we all ask ourselves at some point and most of us will ask multiple times throughout our lives. From the teenager experiencing existential angst to the elderly person looking back over their lives, we are all prone to worrying about whether we are doing life “right” or, to borrow a dreadful phrase spawned by aspirational social media posts, whether we are “living our best lives”.
Indeed, one of the major reasons people feel anxious using social media is that they are comparing their everyday life with the highlight reels of everyone they follow. So, not only are we worried about finding meaning, we are also worried about how we go about our search!
The desire to live authentically and to be true to ourselves is totally natural but with so many conflicting ideas about what those things mean, how do you figure out what is best for you? How do you design a blueprint for the perfect life? Is that even possible?
To explore the idea a bit further, let’s look at 5 of the most important areas of your life…
Where you live makes a huge difference to your lifestyle and, if you are open-minded, you can live anywhere you like (within practical parameters, at least). Of course, moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do but choosing where to put down your roots is a vital part of settling down. The right location, lifestyle aspirations and everything from good schools to local amenities will influence your choice. And, as with all important decisions, there’s no right answer here either!
For many people, living near their parents is the obvious choice and plenty of young people move back home while they figure things out. However, there are many different factors to consider when you choose where to make your home and choosing the perfect home for you. It all depends on your priorities. If you have an adventurous spirit and an open mind, you may find yourself living far away from the place you grew up. Equally, your choice might be influenced by where your friends are, where job opportunities take you and how your life evolves.
Of course, you probably won’t find just one place to call home in your lifetime. You might start in one place and then decide to move to the other side of the country, moving all the stuff you have using logistics including everything from car transport to shipping containers! Moving is always a great undertaking but there is something so fundamental about the sense of home, you’ll find it irresistible in the end.
Travel and Experience
While finding a place to call home speaks to one existential call, the impulse to travel and explore is also strong. We humans are a curious bunch and while we often rely on routine, most of us relish a break from normality to experience something different once in a while.
The reason that travel is so good for you, and for your mental health in particular, is that it invites you to take in new perspectives and increase your empathy. When you spend all your time in your comfort zone, doing the same old things, it’s easy to forget that the rest of the world is out there. But there is nothing like travel to remind you that you are not alone and, crucially, it’s not all about you!
A new trend for travel for good is now growing with eco-tourism at the forefront of change. While travel for good isn’t always easy, finding a way to make the most of your travel while limiting the negative impact is a noble way to balance your needs and the needs of others, not to mention the planet!
Family and Friends
Connection to other people is a vital part of life and when you think about it, all the technologies we have created are designed to bring us closer together from faster transport to social media. Relationships are important because they provide support, give us a chance to share experiences and have fun.
It should be noted here that the perfect relationship does not exist. The Disney-fied idea of love that we grow up with doesn’t truly translate to the messiness that comes with being human. If you spend your life trying to find the perfect soulmate or trying to change people to make them ‘better’ you will waste your time and lose opportunities to find people who naturally make you smile.
Learning to walk away from bad relationships is just as important as nurturing the most important ones. Equally, learning to make new friends is a skill you should continue to hone throughout your life and shouldn’t stop just because you have settled down. If you want a full and exciting life, the best way to find it is to allow others to influence you and introduce you to new ideas.
Work and Money
Work and money are an unavoidable necessity for most of us but managing work and money is about more than the 9-5 and regular contributions to a savings account. Actually managing your money, rather than hoping to accumulate it, is essential because you need to make sure that you balance your income so that you have enough for the essentials as well as the things and experiences that will enrich your life.
The first rule of work and money is that you should earn more than you spend. For some people, this rule means that a frugal lifestyle allows for less time at work and more time at play. For others, spending a few years making a small fortune gives way to freedom later on, though the risk of burnout is significant.
So what is the best option for you? Well, again, it’s all down to personal choice but one sage piece of advice is to find a job that is fulfilling and you enjoy doing. This sounds easy written down but of course, it could take years to find something you love and then you want to try something new anyway! The key to finding a job you love is to keep an open mind and try new things.
Passions and Interests
Following your passions and interests often feels like something you squeeze in around the essentials. However, pursuing your interests should take a more central role as this may be where you find most fulfilment and a good way to find your perfect job too. Many people discover their perfect jobs through passion projects and you shouldn’t discount the skills you pick up doing things that are fun.
But a passion project isn’t about making money or developing new skills, even if those are natural side effects for some people. A passion project is about exploring an idea or an interest to give you a sense of achievement and joy you can’t find elsewhere. For some people, this might mean spending every free moment reading, for others it might be researching a particular topic, still more people like to flit between interests, trying something new each week just to see what it’s like.
The Blueprint for the “Perfect” Life
So what about the blueprint for the perfect life? How should you combine these areas to create a balanced and fulfilling life?
The answer is, as you surely expect by now, that this is your choice. There is no blueprint, there is no perfect life. How dull would it be if you knew the answer to these questions, anyway?! The real test for finding a fulfilling life is simply this: pursuing something. Just pick one thing and run with it for a while, see how it sits. Try settling down in a new town, go on holiday to discover other places or backpack about for a bit to see what’s out there. Figure out what makes you tick and then go for another thing and another, learning as you go.
The real trick to a fulfilled life is the realisation that everything is interlinked. You go away to discover a new place, try new foods and see new sights and you come home with a new friend you met while you were there, an interest in some local intrigue and an experience you can take with you and hold dear.
One of the most irritating cliches people spout about life is that “it’s all about the journey, not the destination”. But like lots of cliches, it’s right on the money. You know what the ultimate destination is going to be so play in the sun while it lasts! The real lesson life teaches you is to take every opportunity, to search those opportunities out and to make something for yourself. Sure, you could do what everyone else is doing but your life is your own. You can decide what the perfect life is for yourself – or, at least, you can spend your life trying to figure it out!
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