Finding meaning in life
Donny Darko's … 29 Jul 21 16:28
Reply |

How do you do this?  Struggling with the old existential angst again a lot at the moment.  The job feels particularly pointless (and particularly thankless) at the moment.  WFH really doesn't help. In a world without proper human connection everyone seems to feel much more able to be sh1tty about stuff and that makes me less inclined to go the extra mile. 

While I appreciate my materially very comfortable life I really can't get excited about owning more fancy things. I love my family and I want them to be happy but its easy for the pressures of providing for them to feel like a millstone and it's hard to stay out of the mindset that every fvcker seems to want me to make their life easier and nobody is offering up any support. 

I need a purpose in life, don't feel like I have one, and very much feel like I am running out of time to find one.  At the same time I have zero energy to do anything about it. 

Do you reckon it's possible to convince yourself to believe in god?  

Yeah, making things is rewarding. Means slightly different things to different people, but that feeling of actualising yourself by realising something tangible. Very much lacking in the context of advisory work, for me (and this applied even more in consultancy than in law, actually).

I can honestly say that one of the things I find most satisfying in law is a physically nice looking document - well presented, proofed and printed on nice paper. The physical end product.

Thats why I like coding. And cooking.

(Extremely rare solipsistic moment follows)

Although I’m parodied on here as some kind of serial dreamer who never realises his grand escape from law, I have in fact exploited law for exactly what it is worth to me.

I was, at least, never under any illusions that I’d gain great satisfaction or self-realisation through law or the trappings that come of being unusually successful at it.

I’ve treated it as the only thing it can be that benefits me. A source of relatively easy cash, the ball ache of which I can tolerate for a moderate period of time in one stint.

I’ve never built a life around remaining a lawyer. I didn’t marry someone who wanted to depend on me financially. I chose to work abroad because I thought (correctly) it would be fun and exciting for me and my family and would increase our ability to save cash. I have a smaller house than most people who’ve been (fairly junior let’s face it) partners in big law firms, but I own it outright. Etc.

I’ve played law for what I wanted from it.

not a criticism of anyone who has taken a different path, before you all start

‘I’ve never built a life around remaining a lawyer. I didn’t marry someone who wanted to depend on me financially. I chose to work abroad because I thought (correctly) it would be fun and exciting for me and my family and would increase our ability to save cash. I have a smaller house than most people who’ve been (fairly junior let’s face it) partners in big law firms, but I own it outright. Etc.

I’ve played law for what I wanted from it.’ 
 

Same. 

Though without the being a partner bit.  I got out of PP at 5 years PQE and never looked back. 
 

I do enjoy what I do most of the time.... if I get left alone to work on interesting contracts.  
 

I really love learning the ins and outs of various products and industries through the various projects I’ve worked on. It’s not the actual hard law part of it that interests me at all. 
 

I often wonder if i would have made a better change management or project management consultant than a lawyer. 

 

 

Going overseas for substantial extra cash and a change of scene is a no-brainer. Collect a portfolio of gidgeless properties and a tidy war chest of liquid instruments along the way. What’s not to like? 

The OP is obviously successful and with success brings choices. Lots of money saved and earned is great but that is a massive ball and chain almost compelling you to carry on because nothing else could be as financially rewarding

that may be so but laz has it right. Life isn’t about building a nest egg you can pass on when you die so that your kids can have a nest egg they can pass on when they die- it’s about experiences and the moment / the journey.

 

I suspect the OP has choices that most wage slaves don’t have because they can’t quit to do something else - tied into large debt and big outgoings. Redesigning life to make it work for you requires balls and a plan. Laz absolutely nails this. He backs himself and has had many rich experiences as a result

we should all be more like Laz

I can assure you that making and saving good money isn't a ball and chain. It's the key that unlocks them. 

"I’ve played law for what I wanted from it."

I think most do law for this. Doubt it is intrinsically exciting. 

Although I’m parodied on here as some kind of serial dreamer who never realises his grand escape from law, I have in fact exploited law for exactly what it is worth to me.

As have 99% of lawyers.

You seem to think this extremely obvious point somehow makes you more special and interesting than all of the others that do precisely this. 

As ever, despite you delusions of grandeur, you are an utterly conventional individual. 

It becomes very hard to walk away from though Goethe. 
 

no matter how much you have saved you always think... it’s not enough.
 

It’s never actually enough because your lifestyle escalates with it. 
 

I always referred to it as wearing golden handcuffs. 
 

 

To the OP:

I found meaning in helping my kids develop and explore.

"helping" is a wide ass word with much room in it and we have three so they can soak up ALOT of time.

Now the oldest is off to Uni in the fall and in 4 years time we'll have a (temporary) empty nest.

Thats the "gap in purpose" I'm looking at now and thinking "ok, what next?" for when the third leaves

 

Goethe Cash30 Jul 21 04:52

Reply | 

Report

Going overseas for substantial extra cash and a change of scene is a no-brainer. Collect a portfolio of gidgeless properties and a tidy war chest of liquid instruments along the way. What’s not to like? 

 

Out of curiosity, were you crying when you wrote this? 

Also, try reading Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

Not exactly a self-help book, more an exploration of existential psychology and “logotherapy” based on the author’s own life experience (he was a survivor of Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz).

OP is classic mid 40s shit. Just grind it out to The Big Fiddy and it gets easier as you realise we all end up in a box anyway and its only another 10 stretch to go so you stop giving a tug about work.

Speaking for yourself there, I think, Scylla. Armed with a spreadsheet you can easily war game different scenarios that take you up to retirement. Excel is a hobby I recommend to everyone. Mine has evolved from Base Case to End Game and works a treat. If you want to tear it all down with excessive spending you can of course but the temptation just hasn’t arisen.

Agree with TC first paragraph. From things he's said in the past about about the two nannies, housekeeper etc I'd imagine donny is quite trapped by lifestyle creep. 
 

you're going to have to have some hard conversations with the Mrs sooner or later or you'll end up doing a reggie Perrin 

"Excel is a hobby I recommend to everyone"

Christ 

"Excel is a hobby I recommend to everyone"
 

You’ve misspelled masturbation really quite badly there, m8

H8 on a winna all u like. I didn’t invent the game.

Most people at the top of law have definitely not played it for what they actually get out of it. They have locked themselves into a lifestyle they now need to keep financing. I have always set things up so I can walk. And I’ve just headed out for a stroll.

“You seem to think this extremely obvious point somehow makes you more special and interesting”

INCORRECT, and HTH

I make no particular pretence of being “unconventional”, but the fact very much is that most people have not played it so they can walk anytime, as I have. Very, very not.

I'd agree with laz as an outlier but I thought the key was his wife being able and willing to sub him.

What Linda said. I think Catty is ready to chuck in the high salary and all the material stuff that comes with it, though Mrs Catty might not be. I think you need to talk to her and explain how you feel. It might be poorly received but something needs to change.

Re discovering God. I have derived great comfort from my faith through very trying times. I'm not sure that belief in God will make you more content in your current circumstances; in my limited experience, it is more likely to prompt change.

This is all very clumsily expressed. Anyway, good luck Catty. I hope you sort it out.

As regards God: studies fairly consistently prove religious people are happier and more successful.

You need a change. So change something. Direction. Country. Whatever. Material stuff isn’t working and trust your gut to show you what might be better. But it might be that it’s time to come home. 

You can't force yourself to believe in God, but, as someone who is quite religious (Christian), reading religious philosophy can help a lot. Start with basic stuff like the cosmological argument etc., and you might find what you're looking for. 

What I am looking for is the TL;DR on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 

As regards God: studies fairly consistently prove religious people are happier and more successful.

This is true, but then you have to devote your life to something that isn't. Plus risk inflicting collateral damage on innocent passers-by with your ideology. 

The same could be said of the worship of supply side Jesus, of course.  

 

One, JH, provided it’s the gavotte.

I prefer my angels to do the polka. The spiritual search continues...

What I am looking for is the TL;DR on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. 

 

Yeh, you're not going to find a tldr in religious philosophy, or in any branch of metaphysics/philosophy. Sorry. 

 

Hi Donno, I'd recommend Paul Dolan's book "Happiness by Design" - it's about balancing pleasure and purpose and he has interesting approach to deciding, designing and doing happiness. 

This went better than expected.  Very much the better side of rof coming out. Thanks all. Some interesting stuff.  The believing in god thing wasn't really meant seriously although I know and work with a lot of genuinely religious people and do envy the certainties they (seem to) have. 

I think I probably just need to change jobs. Very interesting what TC said actually. Building something (or at least being involved in building something) would definitely appeal.  Will have to have a think about that.  My whole outlook (both work and life) has become too defensive/risk averse I think.  I also just need a change. I have maybe been doing the same thing with the same people for too long. 

DDST - think TC is right; being part of a team building something is good.

Most large law firms are pretty fully built out and it’s difficult to feel that you have autonomy and personal ownership in what is a steady state, cashflow business where technocracy has stifled individuals in favour of shaving small margins here and there and concentrating on (obsessing over) measurable targets. And I get the impression that partnership culture involves a fair amount of fighting like rats in a sack at too many shops.

It pays the bills and some clients are good people, but it’s not the only way to be (although it is very remunerative for some). CityLaw/BigLaw took a wrong turn some time ago and has just kept going. 

 

John Lennon told a story about how when he was at primary school he was given an assignment at school. What do you want to be be in life when you grow up. And he remembered his mum always saying the key to life was happiness. So he wrote “I want to be happy.”

And the teacher said “you haven’t understood the assignment”.

And John Lennon (claimed he) said “I understood the assignment; I don’t think you understand life”.
 

 

I’m a lot happier and more fulfilled providing legals as part of a multi-disciplinary team in a growing business where I can see the influence I’m having and the team expanding and growing in experience and skills and moving up through the gears and delivering bigger, better projects.

I truly wouldn’t swap my position for the partners advising us (even though many of them earn between 2-3 and in some cases more than ten times what I take home). 

yeah Lennon talked a lot of shit didn’t he

Build something, make something, write something (though probably not a contract, but I too can relate to the ephemeral satisfaction of a nicely formatted, clean document, never to be looked at again).

Build something could be a small business: I can remember clearly the sense of great achievement in winning my first meaningful contract in the little consulting business I dabbled with after leaving the law firm.  Only £10k, but to me on my own, vastly more satisfying than the £1m fee I negotiated for a weekend’s work in the GFC.

it could also be a bridge: my 20’ chestnut bridge took me a couple of months, using timber hauled from our own woods, milled and joined together with pegs.  Or panelling, which I have gone on about on here before.  Planting trees, too.

when I’ve wondered what it is all about, I’ve concluded that my only lasting legacy will be things like my bridge (for a few years at least) but also some of my trees: I hope that in a hundred years’ time there will still be a record of what we’ve done, that someone will admire the cedar of lebanon, just approaching maturity, or the avenue of liquid amber in the metal guards, just as we have enjoyed understanding who planted the existing 100 year old trees, and appreciating their splendour.  Everything else will have disappeared into boxes and job lots at the auction house.

I suspect in this case it was more of a parable than a true memory, Laz, but yes, he did spin some shit sometimes.

Sort of a very belated esprit d’escalier.

I can believe he gave the answer he did initially, but not the repartee when challenged by the teacher. A little too neat. Although he was an odd boy.

Day1 - check into Dignitas

Day2 - you'll be happy

Day3 - the rest of us will be happy

I agree with what Muttley said as well, but in between his lines, I would like to achieve a positive human connection with my family and friends. Building positivity is not a small task.

Perhaps you have to look into your relationships and how they work and also pay attention to the feedback you get. What I am trying to say is that sometimes little wisdoms that we hear from other people and when we then give a little thought to it, then it help us navigate up and down our life stream. I found it immensely helpful in my understanding of what makes me happy and that was a serious mining job for me. 

I've just skipped over 120 posts, did anyone figure out that answer to this yet?

the "Build something" is a good thing - a long term project be that a business, an expertise or a physical thing. i think i am wired to be onto the next thing and that's why hitting partnership and the humdrum that is resetting the numbers each year with perhaps a step up on the pay ladder is completely unfulfilling because it means nothing - particularly if the money is all abstract (its all loads of money whether you stay the same go up or go down).  The climbing of the ladder at this point just becomes so pointless - and if you're not shackled by debt / obilgations around payments, then it seems even more futile. You aspire to a bigger house or the same house near a slightly nicer coffee shop, the availabiltiy of good korean food or a bigger car. 

All of that is entirely pointless but requires wholesale change which most people can't commit to.  

This thread's been going a while - have we got anywhere on establishing a meaning yet?  Pls sumrize

I've actually read it now, as far as I can tell the answer seems to be: make literally millions then buy a farm. 

the answer is that you need to be content with the fact that there is no “meaning” 

certainly having a gidge free farm would be good place from which to contemplate the void

would be a lovely place to ponder how unimportant the millions really are

I think it's agreed that finding meaning starts with getting gidgelite. 

"This thread's been going a while - have we got anywhere on establishing a meaning yet?  Pls sumrize"

A fair amount of "do lots, keep spinning the flywheel of activity and meaning will emerge from the busyness".

Not much on who actually is this person who keeps the flywheel going, and whether is it the right flywheel to keep spinning in the first place.