Finding Meaning in Life and Knowing When to Quit

Esteban Tala

Esteban Tala

Feb 28, 20243 min read

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Finding Meaning in Life and Knowing When to Quit

In today's society, a sense of meaninglessness is prevalent. Many of us are constantly searching for the meaning of life, hoping to find our life's mission. However, the truth is that there is no universal answer to this question. The concept of a life mission is subjective and varies from person to person. We cannot rely on external factors or preconceived notions to determine what is objectively meaningful. Instead, we have the freedom to choose and invent our own meaning in life.

Life itself holds no inherent meaning until we live it and give it value. The meaning we attribute to our lives is a reflection of our own beliefs, values, and experiences. It is up to us to create meaning and give value to our existence. As Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "You are free, so choose; in other words, invent. No general code of ethics can tell you what you ought to do; there are no signs in this world."

What often holds us back from committing to something is the fear of making the wrong choice. We constantly seek better options, fearing that we might miss out on something better if we commit to one thing. This desire for optionality is driven by our need for a safety net. We convince ourselves that if we just knew a little more, we would be able to figure out our mission.

Existentialists, however, approach responsibilities differently. They believe in living authentically, embracing the freedom to invent their own values and act based on their understanding of who they are. Inventing oneself requires making choices without the certainty of right answers. The key is to commit to something not because it is meant for us, but because we decide that it matters to us. By embracing this ambiguity of life and committing to something, we develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and find meaning in our lives.

Knowing when to quit is also an important aspect of finding meaning. Sometimes, we find ourselves pursuing goals that no longer align with our interests or values. In these situations, it is crucial to have a framework for giving up. The "Quit" framework suggests setting kill criteria, pre-committing to cutting our losses if certain conditions are not met by a specific date. This pre-commitment helps us overcome the resistance to quitting when we are in the midst of something and fear taking a loss or wasting time.

Additionally, scheduling regular time to re-examine the expected value of our goals is essential. When we set a goal, we choose the path that we believe has the highest expected value based on our current knowledge. However, circumstances and preferences can change over time. By regularly reassessing our goals, we can determine if they still align with our evolving circumstances and desires.

In conclusion, finding meaning in life is a subjective and personal journey. It is up to each individual to create their own meaning and give value to their existence. By embracing the freedom to choose and invent our own values, we can find purpose and fulfillment. Additionally, knowing when to quit is crucial for our personal growth and development. By setting kill criteria and regularly re-evaluating our goals, we can ensure that our pursuits align with our ever-changing circumstances and preferences.

Actionable Advice:

1. Reflect on your own beliefs, values, and experiences to discover what truly matters to you. Embrace the freedom to choose and invent your own meaning in life.

2. Develop a framework for quitting by setting kill criteria. Pre-commit to cutting your losses if certain conditions are not met by a specific date.

3. Schedule regular time to re-examine the expected value of your goals. Be honest with yourself about whether they still align with your evolving circumstances and desires. Adjust or abandon goals as necessary to find true fulfillment.

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