Understanding What Drives Your Sense of Fulfillment in Life
As you may know, there is both an online version and a printable version (both free) of the Meaning Assessment that is found in The Meaning of Life: A guide to finding your life's purpose. The assessments are meant to give you a pre-book baseline so that you can take it again afterwards and check for post-book improvement in your grasp of the eight concepts and how you use them to find meaning in your life. Due to the fact that understanding what an assessment tests for will influence your answers, you should take it before reading the below post to prevent bias in your results.
So, now that you've looked at it (and hopefully taken it), how does it assess your meaning in life? Well, there are 13 statements total testing (on a Likert scale) different parts of your life that directly determine whether you find your life to have meaning and purpose:
- I understand the ways in which I can grow as a person. – People find meaning and purpose in improving themselves and helping the people they care about. Understanding ways in which you can be a better person or work toward a better life is key to feeling like you're living meaningfully. This statement is testing for whether you see the opportunities in your life.
- I understand how I define success in my life. – People find meaning and purpose in working toward goals that are worth pursuing yet attainable. Having a clear vision of success can really instill you with purpose to achieve those goals. This statement tests for whether you have that clear understanding of what success is for you.
- I know what I can do to make progress in my life. – Those goals and growth areas won't mean much to you if you don't feel like you have tangible next steps or milestones to show that you're making progress. If you can define success but have no way to get there, you will feel inhibited. This statement tests for whether you can see the path ahead to your goals.
- I appreciate what I have in life. – Always feeling like you never have enough can be exhausting. Having things, people, and achievements you can appreciate can keep you from wondering what the point is or thinking that it's no use since nothing you've done to date matters. This statement tests for whether you acknowledge what you have in life so you don't feel like the odds are against you in being able to achieve what you don't have yet.
- I desire activities, abilities, or things that I currently do not have. – People with drive always seem to have great purpose. That's because if you want something bad enough, you'll by definition have the great intention to go after it. Life without motivation, such as what people with depression experience, can feel devoid of meaning. This statement tests for whether you have the drive, passion, or hunger for more.
- I believe that I can do, be, or have what I want in life. – Believing that getting what you want is possible to attain is the difference from being able to sustain that purpose through adversity and giving up. No meaning is possible if you don't believe in it. This statement tests for whether you have any internal hurdles to overcome if you wish to make it to your goal.
- I understand what my emotions are communicating to me. – Emotions are your feedback as to whether your desires, beliefs, and experiences are in alignment. If you can't read your emotions, you'll not be able to understand which of those three components you may need to change to improve your emotional state. This statement tests your emotional intelligence so you can replace destructive coping mechanisms or suppression with healthier emotional processing techniques.
- I follow rules in life that protect and benefit myself and others. – Accomplishments only have significance if they're done the right way. Cheating or harming others to get what you want will get you the outcome but at the price of its meaning. There is a reason why society wants to strip awards from cheaters and enshrine ethical achievements: it represents success done the right way as a shining example to others of what humans can do. This statement tests to make sure that you are living up to the standards you deem necessary to make goal attainment feel rewarding.
- I know how to use the resources I have to support my goals in life. – Feeling supported keeps you going when times are tough, increases your belief, and helps you accomplish much more than you ever could alone. Having a support system is one of the most important factors in the attainment of any goal. This statement tests for the existence of and ability to use your support system to help you succeed.
- I feel like I have a choice in what I do or accomplish in life. – A sense of agency and autonomy is the difference between taking control of your life and passively letting life happen to you. People who don't believe that they have a choice will feel like their existence doesn't matter and they're not able to influence outcomes. This statement tests for your sense of what you can and cannot control and whether you are making the most of the choices you (have to) make every day.
- I live my life with a sense of purpose. – Unlike the previous statements that test for leading indicators that you'll find purpose in life, this directly tests your sense of purpose to determine whether gaps in the above are leaving you lacking in feeling meaning in your life.
- I am pleased with how my life is progressing. – This statement tests a combination of how several of the above items come together for you to feel like your life is moving forward. Unlike the previous statement, this is not just testing whether you have a purpose but whether you're pleased with that pace at which you're moving toward it.
- My life will be better in the future than it is today. – This statement is testing your belief in your ability to grow in the future. Optimism is a good test of whether your desires, beliefs, emotions, support, and other factors are leading you to conclude that you will have grown when you look back on today from weeks, months, or years ahead. It's also a good litmus test of change if you take this assessment before and after reading the book or setting goals to see if your efforts have improved your outlook on life.
So that's how the assessment tests the key indicators of whether you will find life meaningful. If you have clearly defined growth areas, success criteria, and experiences, you'll have a roadmap. But you'll need the drive and faith to keep going, and your emotions will tell you how you're reacting to what's going on so you can adjust. Your ethics and support will help you cooperate with others for greater growth and meaning, and your deliberate choices will determine your destiny. Those eight areas determine your sense of meaning and fulfillment in life, and you can see their impact based on whether you feel like you have purpose, you're making progress, and you're optimistic about the future. If you're lacking in any of the eight components, you'll likely see a hit to other areas as well as your overall outlook.
Take the test as often as you'd like. It's the best way to determine whether you're on the right track. Your goals might change, your belief might falter, you might want new things...It can all change at any time, which is why it's so important to monitor these areas and do some life maintenance where necessary. Keep yourself moving toward your next growth opportunity or life goal, and you'll rarely be lacking in motivation to live life to the fullest.