Conquering your own existential dilemma


Have you ever had a moment or day in which you questioned what you do and why you do it?  Do you ever think, “Why am I upset? It doesn’t really matter anyway.”  Are you frustrated sometimes because you think that you have nothing to show for your work or your efforts?

If so, you may be facing your own existential crisis or dilemma.  An existential dilemma is a situation in which an individual questions their purpose, the value of their efforts, or the meaning of what they do.  Someone has defined it as a time when, “You question everything, grasp for anything, only to get nothing.”

Often, your existential crisis comes at a time when you simply cannot properly balance responsibilities at home with stresses at work.  It may also come when you lose your job, miss out on a promotion, or feel distressed with the seemingly never-ending cycle of life. You might also even be questioning the meaning or purpose of your own life.

If (or when) you find yourself facing such a time, I would like to suggest a few specific actions you can take to help you shift back to a purposeful, meaningful existence.  These suggestions might even be helpful when you feel that your situation is hopeless or helpless.  Think about how you can dig your way out:

  1. Step back and look at your situation more broadly – When you take the time to look more objectively at your work and life, you will see that you provide value.  You are loved by many.  You provide and protect.  You make a difference to your employer, your teammates, your family, your friends, and your neighbors.  You have skills and abilities no one else on earth has.  No matter how things seem today, there are individuals in your world that would say, “You mean the world” to them.
  2. Find a way to serve others – One of the best ways to realize your own purpose is to find ways to serve others.  I have found that no matter what struggles I might have at any time, serving others redirects my focus away from those problems.  You are often at your very best when you are giving your best to others.
  3. Connect/Reconnect with God and His purpose for your life – God created each of us to have a purpose in this life.  We cannot truly find that purpose unless we have a relationship with the God that designed that purpose.  He can help us find purpose and meaning if we seek Him earnestly.
  4. Carve out some time to have fun – We often lose our way focus because we are trying to do or be too many things all at once.  Sometimes, this happens because we become so intense that we neglect to have fun.  Do something for yourself that brings fun and joy to your life.  This will serve to “reset” or “reboot” your life in ways that bring refreshment and new energy.
  5. Form a strand of three cords – “A strands of three cords is difficult to break.”  Find at least two other individuals that you trust with whom you can share your thoughts and struggles.  Having someone to provide honest, objective feedback can help ensure we are not being too critical of our own situation. You can find more on this at this link:  A Strand of Three Cords: Getting Honest Feedback.
  6. Align your passion with your work – When our passion does not align with our work, it is possible to feel that our work doesn’t matter, is unappreciated, adds no value, or is unfulfilling.  Many have written that we should turn our passion into our work, then, it no longer becomes “work.”  Find a way to do what you feel makes a difference. Sometimes, you can find your passion in your current situation by connecting your work to the ultimate customer.  For those working in the healthcare industry, this might be easy.  For others, you may need to learn more about how your work adds value to others.  For others, it might mean doing something completely different. When your work becomes your passion, your life changes.
  7. Simplify your life – If all else fails, simplify your life.  You don’t have to say “yes” to every request made of you.  You might have to reduce your schedule, your commitments, or your hours.  When life becomes more simple, you have less of life’s activities to detract you from those things more important, such as your family.

Certainly, the suggestions made above may not provide an easy answer for everyone.  But, if you will choose one or two of these items and focus some attention and effort there, I strongly believe that your crisis/dilemma will be relieved.

Thanks for what you do to make the world better for someone else.  And, who knows, this could be your very best day yet!

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