Dear 100 Hour Board,
Writers out of school/ graduated (especially those who are unmarried/ no kids): what gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life? Now that you are not working towards a degree, what are you working towards that leaves you feeling accomplished?
Working on my career goals is probably the biggest factor right now. My current job is very low-level and tedious, and the only way I get through it is by knowing that in 7 weeks I'll be moving to a position that better suits my long-term goals. Making even incremental progress in position and salary helps me feel accomplished and more intellectually and emotionally fulfilled.
I only graduated last December, so at the moment doing adult things also gives me a great deal of satisfaction. For instance, working on my monthly budget encourages me to set financial goals, and at the end of each month I find it very therapeutic to check whether I'm on track. Likewise, I'm looking for my first adult apartment, one that isn't designed for students and doesn't come furnished, which is a slightly terrifying process, but it's helping me feel like I'm progressing into the adult I want to be.
Also, to add some sap to this answer, my boyfriend Yossarian is wonderful and I'm grateful for him every day. Taking someone else into account when I consider my future makes my choices feel more important, and that too gives me a sense of accomplishment.
At this point, doing things that I enjoy/find interesting is really what's fulfilling for me. I don't focus as much on long term accomplishments, rather small projects or activities that make me happy.
Part of the reason I've more or less adopted this mindset is because I've been dealing with depression, and it's a lot easier to think about what could make me a little bit happier right now. Fulfillment and accomplishment is on a micro, rather than a macro, scale.
Well, I'm currently tenure-track faculty, so working towards tenure is a pretty big goal in my life right now. But even after that is done, I think I'll keep busy with research and various other personal projects (which is basically what I was doing before I got this job).
To be honest, it sounds like your issue may be external vs. internal motivation. If you're someone who does well working on a highly structured goal with well-defined sub-goals and a lot of external validation, then working towards a degree can be a very rewarding experience. You could look for another major goal to accomplish, such as running a marathon or getting a graduate degree (although I wouldn't advise going to grad school just to have something to do). However, I would recommend taking some time to look at what internally motivates you in life—what kind of person you want to be or what accomplishments you would find personally satisfying, even if they're not very showy—and looking for ways to work towards achievements in those areas.
Congrats! I hit that milestone four years ago according to Facebook and its memory lane feature. No spouse, no kids, and highly externally motivated, so my career has plateaued and I'm writing this on my phone on little sleep.
I highly recommend the book Designing Your Life to help you answer these questions. All the prototypes look nothing like where I'm at now. Shoot me an email (portiaofbelmont at Gmail) if you'd like to discuss further and try some of the exercises.
I wish I knew the answer to that question, but I don't.
Working toward my career. I know what I want to do for work now; it's just a matter of getting there. Mental health issues complicate life a bit.
Spending time on hobbies I like. I like crafts, vidya games, tv shows, trying delicious hot beverages, exploring the city. Just, you know, doin' cool stuff.
Being with my family. I'm spending a lot more time lately really getting to know my siblings, now that one is across the country in med school and one is a teenager with ~complicated teen feelings~. But it's rewarding to me to know what's going on in their lives and to connect with them.
Working on my mental health. I've learned a lot in the past year and have improved tremendously, thanks to therapy, but my mental health goals are still something that really motivate me.
Spending time with my spouse-a-roo and pupperito. I like them.
-Dog in Neverland
Something that has been in my head a lot this last year should give you an idea of how I feel more often than I'd like:
Turning and turning in the widening gyreThe falcon cannot hear the falconer;Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
P.S. Excerpt from "The Second Coming" by W.B. Yeats.