Tools for Finding Your Way Forward
There are times in life when we find ourselves asking 'what's it all about?' Is my life off track? What's the meaning of it all? Am I just fidgeting until I die?
Our societies can belittle these questions as 'just' existential angst, affecting the 'worried well'. We can be told to 'just get on with it' or to 'stop navel gazing'. There's an assumption embedded in these views that objective material challenges are the only ones worthy of compassion, attention or action.
There's a lack of understanding here. I'm sure you can think of people who had no objective material challenges - who are healthy and wealthy - and deeply unhappy. I can think of several who were so unhappy they took their own lives. This existential angst is no trifling matter!
When we really let these questions in, they can be very confronting. They can weigh us down and rob us of our energy and drive. Even things we usually find joy in can lose their lustre. It can stop us in our tracks!
Social media can make this worse. It lures us into comparing our real lives with the curated versions people post on Facebook or Instagram, making us feel that ours is somehow inadequate, not amazing or beautiful enough.
There are also times in our life when these questions can hit us hard. A common one is in mid-life as we notice our age starting to show, as we realise the world of professional possibility has shrunk, as we are faced with not having achieved the career or life or relationships we thought we would - or having achieved those things and realising they didn't bring the happiness they were 'supposed to'. We can be facing for the first time, the reality that there are probably fewer years in front of us than there are behind.
But these questions can rise up at any time from teen years onwards. It's possible to spread a midlife crisis over decades!
These experiences are painful. Sometimes deeply so. And it can feel hopeless, with no clear way out of it. This down-ness can just follow you around, filling your emotional space any time you're not distracted with something. And even when you are, you know it's still there in the background, just waiting for you.
A key problem in the way we deal with this experience is that we react to it with aversion. We try to push it away, distract ourselves, or make ourselves feel better through unhelpful comfort seeking (food, alcohol, drugs, mind-stimulation).
We can also make it our own private hell by keeping it to ourselves, as if we're the first and only people in the world to go through this. We're not! And we need to share it with people who care about us.
When we find these questions arising, it's our mind playing the role of protector. It's asking us to listen and consider answers to important questions before it's too late. The down-ness is like a loyal dog, following you around, not willing to give up on you, no matter how much you try to shoo it away. It will only leave once it knows you've attended to the important matters it's trying to bring to your attention.
That's where our tools for finding your way forward can help.
Importantly, they help us ask the right question. The important question is not: 'what's the meaning of life?' The important question is: 'what's the meaning IN MY life?'
This can seem like a vague question and it can elicit vague answers...which are not helpful. Yet we know what it takes to flourish as a human being. Our species has been pondering it for millennia and it's now being explored extensively in the study of psychology. (Click here for a brief background on the topic of flourishing.)
So what we've got here for you is a tool to assess the state of your own life against the Nine Needs of full human flourishing. It's called the Flourish Life Assessment and it covers both our safety needs and our fulfillment needs as well as the Five Growth Attitudes described here. This alone might be enough to help you hone in on the areas of life that would yield great fruit.
If you're good at action planning, this might be all you need and you can go ahead and develop plans to enrich your life in the areas that are under-done. This can serve as a map for your own growth path.
If you'd like some help with planning, we also have the Vision Planner tool that helps turn the work from the Flourish Life Assessment into an effective action plan.
Below are descriptions of both. If you know which one you want just click on it. Otherwise read through the more detailed descriptions below and see whether you need one or both.
Flourish Life Assessment - assess your life on the Nine Needs for human flourishing and the Five Growth Attitudes. There are four needs to fill in order to feel safe, and five needs for fulfillment. Together with the Five Growth Attitudes, these add up to full human flourishing.
Vision Planner - for those who need some help turning their vision of flourishing from the Flourish Life Assessment, into an effective action plan.
These tools are in the process of being released. Some are ready and others are coming soon. Click the button below if you'd like to know as we launch them!
Flourish Life Assessment
It could be a vague sense of being off track, a dull emptiness that rears its head every now and then, a feeling of mild panic that your life is passing by so quickly, or even depression where you feel like you've just been stopped in your tracks and have no energy or inspiration to move.
Whatever it is, you have a sense that you need to stop and look at your life - figure out where you are and whether you need to make a change - before you move on, look up, and all of a sudden it's gone - your chance to do life differently is over!
First, know that this is a precious moment. It's darned uncomfortable, but then lots of important moments are! Your choice to listen to this voice rather than trying to get rid of it or drown it out, is how you earn your way to a flourishing future. The path to this future is through the pain, not around it - we need to look closely at our lives, not distract ourselves from it. Like most highly valuable things in life, this achievement is earnt.
So we need to take a good honest look at where we are now. But more than that, we need to know what a flourishing life looks like.
Sometimes we know things aren't right, and maybe that's what got you here. But to move forward we need a vision of what a flourishing life looks like - what we should be aiming at - so that we can tell where things are on track and where they're not. So that we can move forward in a direction that actually leads to wellbeing and fulfillment rather than grasping at empty promises or quick fixes that peter out as quickly as we got them, leaving us to chase the next thing and the next thing for an elusive sense of happiness.
This is what the Flourish Life Assessment is for....
Based on your life now, it leads you through assessing for yourself, how well your four Safety Needs and five Fulfillment Needs are being met. It also leads you through an assessment of the Five Growth Attitudes which are the fertiliser for human growth and development - you'll need them to make many of the changes you might want in your life.
When you've completed this assessment you'll be able to pinpoint the Needs that are currently under-done, that are causing your angst as described above. Once you know what they are, you can make plans for change....and then move!
You'll also see where your needs are currently well met, and be able to practise gratitude for those. This is a super-important thing to do - research shows that gratitude is linked to optimism, happiness, deeper relationships, wellbeing, stronger self control, better athletic performance, lower stress, depression and anxiety....the list goes on! You're likely to have some needs well met - truly appreciating this has a positive effect itself.
Finally, you have the all-important Five Growth Attitudes. They're important because change is often challenging. Occasionally we can just make a change to our objective circumstances to improve our score on one of the Needs (e.g. joining a group to meet the need for Belonging). But often there are reasons why we haven't done this before that point to some inner work we need to do.
For example, maybe we haven't joined a group before because we feel anxious about meeting new people, or we find ourselves judging others for their imperfections and so leave looking for greener pastures (i.e. more perfect people). Maybe we identify our Need for Achievement isn't being met, but we struggle with risking failure - an essential component of achieving pretty much anything significant.
Depending on what you find from your assessment, you might find some of our other Tools or our Programs helpful. These walk you through a lot of common challenges and super helpful mindfulness practices.
You might also find yourself wanting some more guidance and maybe some company on your growth path. If so, then check out our programs which include all of our tools as well as a self-paced online program and the option of joining dedicated chat groups (both large and small), webinars, Q&As and individual sessions with Flourish Guides.
Investment in your wellbeing: AU$270
Your Vision Planner
So you've done the Flourish Life Assessment, and you're feeling inspired!
How do you make sure the valuable work you've done there, translates to a real impact on your life? There are all of those New Year's Resolutions that you've forgotten....and there's a concern, large or small, that the insights you've had are going to stay in that workbook!
Life's too short to let that happen!
If you're a great planner and do-er, then you may not need this tool, but many of us aren't. This tool is designed to help you turn your insights into action. They need to be SMARTER goals, they need to be right-sized (both in number and challenge), they need to be embedded into life with flags to remind you of them.
Of course, as with all of our tools, you can use this again and again as you make progress and then adjust your goals over time.
Investment in your wellbeing: $TBC