What do you want from life?

Is there any last thought you want to leave with our listeners?

Earlier this week I was on a great podcast with two heavy-hitting real estate investors. Obviously, we talked a lot of real estate, my company Development AI in particular, but we also talked about the mindset necessary for success.

We discussed my background in wrestling – a sport as grueling mentally as it is physically, as well as my sensitivity, in the context of my ability to extract large lessons from infinitesimally small happenings. Finally, we discussed self-awareness and what it’s like to actually know what you want from your life.

I can still picture 19-year-old me delivering pizzas in the summer between college semesters as an engineering student at Rutgers University. Reading – whether books or articles – became my favorite thing to do between deliveries. And it was during one such period of downtime that, while reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki, I decided that I was going to become a full-time entrepreneur in the real estate space. What that was going to look like? No idea. But I did decide it was going to happen, and I spent the next five years of my young life working tenaciously towards that goal.

He who has a why can bear almost any how

The above quote is attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche and approvingly referenced multiple times in Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It also implies that FINDING THE WHY is actually the hard part. Think about it – if you can bear the how irrespective of how hard it is, then finding that why must be really hard!

During this same podcast, I noted that real wisdom is being able to learn lessons from others as opposed to having to learn them the hard way. Referring again to sensitivity, why should we have to be Holocaust survivors like Viktor Frankl or otherwise go through some harrowing experience in order to place a value on this one, precious life that we have?

Viktor Frankl formulated his why  – the meaning that gave him the will to endure unbearable hardship – into logotherapy, the branch of psychology postulating that the primary purpose of an individual is to find meaning in their life.

Notice how the word find is emphasized – it is an act, or something that must be done. Meaning in life is not something that comes to you. The meaning or “logos” Frankl attributed to his life and to the suffering he endured as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps is what he deemed to have saved his life and gave him the strength to give back to the world in such a profound way.

Obviously this example is on the extreme end of the spectrum. The point, however, is that when you internalize some meaning, living itself becomes quite bearable, regardless of how adverse the circumstances. It is the act of finding this meaning that is so difficult, hence the title of Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning.

The question is this – WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT FROM LIFE?

Frankl prescribes three ways to find this meaning (the “logos” in logotherapy):

  1. In work, through doing some deed

  2. Through experience and/or love

  3. Our attitude taken toward unavoidable suffering

Is it professional success? Is it in starting a family? Is it turning horrific events from your past into beauty for the rest of the world?

What is it?

That last thought I left the listeners with was quite simple – find what it is that you truly want from life and then have the discipline it takes to go get it. While the finding aspect is most challenging, the second part – the actual doing – is not trivial either. It takes a lot of hard work and self-awareness. It takes pushing the boundaries of who you can become not once a year when you set goals, but every single day.

Meaning in life is earned, not given. While it is out there for you to find, you must put in the work to find it. Finding is a verb. It is something you must actively and persistently do, for there are times when the details may change in light of new information and experiences.

This why typically comes back to the people we love. While my why professionally speaking has been to experience success as an entrepreneur, there is a deeper underlying why, and that is to provide a prosperous life for my family – immediate and extended – for generations to come.

Six years after I discovered this why and it is still something I wake up with fire in my belly to accomplish everyday. I have been fortunate in this respect – for having this why allows me to bear the unbearable workload necessary to achieve it, and fills each day with meaning.

What is your why, and what are you willing to do to realize it?

Carson is the Co-Founder of Development AI, a platform for real estate developers, and Co-Founder of The Success Minded, a blog on finance, investing & living a meaningful life