Meaning in life

Humans are meaning-making creatures. Whatever we encounter, we usually try to figure out what it means. We do this without even knowing that we are doing it. Some of the interpretations are unique to us and based on our own experiences and world-views, and some are based on meaning that we all construct together as a society; in most cases the meaning that we construct is based on both individual and social factors.

What our lives mean and what is life all about are common coaching topics. People don't tend to come asking to discuss meaning of life, but usually we start talking about eg career dissatisfaction or life balance, and end up asking big questions like what someone wants to do with their life.

Meaning in life is important for most people. Each individual creates their own meaning - even if one is born into an environment where externally-given meaning (e.g. faith) is strong, it is still the individual that makes choices on how that faith might guide them. So that means that we alone are responsible for giving our lives meaning, there isn't some magic wand that can be waved to make one's life meaningful. Of course this is empowering. But it is also scary, because it means that we alone are responsible for our life's meaning.

Asking big questions like what one will do with one's life are important in coaching. If we don't consciously choose what our life will be about, we risk making decisions that in the long term take us away from a rich and meaningful future. In coaching, I like the mantra "think big - start small". What is the big picture in broad terms, and what small steps can I take to get me there.