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How to Live a Meaningful and Significant Life

Answering the question, “What is my life’s purpose?” isn’t easy for most people. We all want to be successful and feel important; yet being successful is much different than living a life of significance.

Developing significance is about having a sense of meaning and knowing we offer value to the world and others. It’s beginning to recognize a purpose greater than ourselves and how we can impart this calling to others.

Many people write personal mission and value statements for this reason. They want to have a clear idea of why they’re here and how they can live out their purpose.

To begin making sense of life, explore where you’ve been. Consider the important parts of your past that lead to who you are today. Where did your beliefs and values come from?

Consider who you are now and what you can offer and begin to share with others. What are your strengths and accomplishments that can be built on and developed further? What are your current beliefs and values?

Lastly, uncover were you want to go. What’s your vision for the future and why do you want to go there? What are you striving to do, and why do you want to do these things?

Look to these areas to find meaning

Relationships – Having intimacy and a sense of belonging offers meaning. We all need relationships to help us grow and develop. Relationships provide a context for much of what we do and are an important factor for making decisions. Put time and effort into building relationships and be aware how important relationships are to your identity.

Spiritual and religious beliefs – Having a spiritual connection and understanding transcendence offers a more inspiring view of life. Religion and spirituality offer a chance to enhance gratitude for what we have and hope for the future. Knowing there is something beyond our immediate existence provides encouragement that we can push beyond limits and become a better person.

Achievement and self-growth – Striving for personal growth and doing what you love is an important part of meaning and purpose. This may relate to work and career, or to general hobbies and personal development. The important part is that we’re using our talents, skills, and strengths to really make a difference and participate in life. Begin to explore your potential and expand your horizons by learning and doing new things.

By discovering a purpose and meaning in life, we can begin to make sense of the world and find comfort and confidence to deal with whatever life may bring. Living a meaningful life also helps us be healthier and happier by being more engaged in our work, feeling more life satisfaction, and a greater sense of control.

Start considering what you want from life, and why you want this. Start to live from your heart and release the passion and enthusiasm that has been lying dormant within you.

Photo credit: Travis Silva

How to Live a Meaningful and Significant Life

Joe Wilner

Joe Wilner is a life coach, licensed clinical psychotherapist (LCP), and drummer from the band Yes You Are. He is also creator of You Have a Calling, a blog and online community helping people discover and pursue their life’s work and mission. Through deep and personalized coaching, he helps ambitious, creative, and spiritually minded individuals make a greater impact, grow as leaders, and design a soulful life they are inspired by.

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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). How to Live a Meaningful and Significant Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Feb 2011
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