Focus on the Endgame – How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 5/5 – Keep Your Focus on the Endgame.

Focus on the Endgame - Having a Meaningful Life without Kids

Or, Don’t get too sidetracked by the mini-quests.

Do you ever play a video game, and get so wrapped up in a side quest that you lose sight of your main goal? You hunt around for gold (rupees, or what-have-you) to get this next thing, which will let you get to this thing, which will allow you to complete this mini-quest, which will allow you to get the other thing, which you can take back to the wizard to get the thing you need to continue on your main quest.

Obviously in a game, as soon as you finally finish all that, you can get back to the main goal. But in real life, some people either completely forget about the main quest, or they never knew about it in the first place. So when they finally finish the mini-quest, they’re left… with nothing. Just some useless sword that doesn’t seem to be good for anything.

Well, I finished the quest. Now what?
Well, I finished the quest. Now what?

This is the disillusionment that falls over people who were focused on real life’s mini-quests. The mothers who had children because they thought it would make them happy, the success-driven business men and women who were brought up believing that once there was enough money they could relax, and the single, childfree people who pursued pure, momentary gratification believing that self-indulgence was the goal in life.

Dissatisfaction and disappointment don’t come from choosing a certain career or lifestyle. They come from putting one’s faith and hope for happiness in said choices. For example…

"I'm just not feeling the spark anymore, Mr. Bank."
“Where did all our passion go, Mr. Bank?”

The problem with making financial security your goal isn’t that money is bad. It’s that money is just a means to an end. When you focus on the means and lose sight of the end, your goals will shift. When you finally do attain them, you won’t be where you wanted. Money can buy physical security and comfort, and those are very important in this life. But your focus has to be on your overall well being, not just your physical well being.

The problem with making children your goal is that children are actual people. They are their own individual selves, not tools for your comfort. Being a parent and watching your children grow can be an immense source of comfort, but if your goal in having children is to be happy, you will be disappointed.

To lead a meaningful life, your underlying focus and goal in all things must be to improve yourself. And when I say “improve,” that’s not to imply that you’re in a bad place. It just means you’re in your starting place at the beginning of the game. Think of every new thing you learn or accomplish as leveling up. The classes you take, volunteer work you do, and so forth are all power ups you pick up along the way.

New skill added - Level Up complete!
New skill added – Level Up complete!

Do you want to have children? Good. Enjoy infinite experience points. Do you want to travel the world? Go ahead. You’ll find plenty of ways to increase your awareness and add to your supply of knowledge. We’re taught to believe that focusing on ourselves is bad, selfish, or downright hedonistic, but it’s not. Just like in a single player game, you are the only person you can control, so your well-being must be your focus. That only becomes selfish when you drag other people into your life and then sacrifice their well-being for yours (and that includes having kids you don’t want).

So go out, travel, make money, indulge, and have fun. But don’t let these things become your goal or source of happiness, or you’ll likely find yourself alone at the end of it all.

And when one mini-quest is complete, move on to the next one. Don’t look back and tell yourself, “If I’d only made a different choice back at the last castle, I’d be happy!” The game isn’t over – you’ve just decided to stop in the middle and mourn a decision that, ultimately, wouldn’t affect the outcome in any significant way. If you get to 45 or 50 and think that you’d be happier if you’d have children, you’re wrong. Pinning your hope on someone else is never the answer. If you’d had kids, you’d just be unhappy in a different way.

Focus on the Endgame - Having a Meaningful Life without Kids

Simply enjoy that fact that you are your goal; you are your quest. Because in the end, the only person you’ll really have, right up until your last breath, is your own amazing self.

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Help the Vulnerable – A Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 4/5 – Help the vulnerable

How to Have a Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable
“Bless the beasts and the children…”

So far in this series, we’ve looked at some specific ways you can create a meaningful life without raising children. In this article, however, I’m going to look at something more general.

When you set out to create your own business, find the right volunteer opportunity, or start on your career, it’s your motivations more than your precise actions, that will lead to a fulfilling or unfulfilling life. Now, I could take this moment to talk about how money doesn’t buy happiness, but I’d rather cut to the chase and simply say that finding meaning in life means finding meaning in something outside of yourself.

To be honest, I think this is why a lot of people have kids. How often have you heard something like, “When I had my daughter, it all came together. I realized there was so much more to life than just my life”? Or, “You don’t understand love until you start living for someone else”?

This idea of finding meaning by helping others is ancient. We evolved as highly social beings, in groups where helping one another was necessary for survival. However, it quickly moved beyond what was necessary. For instance, some of the earliest remains of our human ancestors show that they cared for the injured, elderly, and otherwise disabled. Some cases show injuries that would have taken months to heal, yet the other tribe members cared for this non-contributing member no matter how long it took them to recover.

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable

Later on, Aristotle philosophized that real friendship was found in loving, rather than being loved. He remarks that a mother loves her child without seeking love in return. This is the essence of having meaning in one’s life. To love, to give, and to help for the sake of those things. And though the ideal of a mother’s love is a strong example, you don’t need to have children to devote your life to the service of others.

In this series, we’ve already gone over volunteering and sharing knowledge. In this article, I’m going to talk about something more general: simply helping the vulnerable.

Who are “the vulnerable?”

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the Vulnerable

Our world is filled with people who susceptible to injury, who’ve undergone financial or emotional hardship, and who are otherwise at a higher risk for misfortune. People (human and non-human) who have little to no control over their lives are also vulnerable, as their well-being depends on the will of another. Such people are often children, animals, and people who are institutionalized (in prison, mental health facilities, or senior citizen homes).

How do I help them?

When offering aid, it’s important to do so without coming across as patronizing. Offering assistance to another should always be done out of a spirit of humility and the realization that if only a few things in your life had been different, you could be the one in need of help.

That being said, there are tons of ways to offer your service to those who need it.

Volunteer Your Time:

 Fulfilling Life without Kids - Help the VulnerableAnimals

Making the safety and well-being of animals is one of the best ways to create a meaningful life.

Animal Charity Evaluators is a great resource that examines the effectiveness of various types of charities and volunteer efforts designed to help animals.

Help the Vulnerable - The American SpinsterChildren

Great Nonprofits is a website that provides information on various charities and volunteer opportunities. Visit their page for at-risk youth to learn about opportunities in your area: http://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/children-and-youth

Help The Vulnerable - The American SpinsterElderly

Create the Good has an excellent guide on volunteering to help the eldery here: http://createthegood.org/campaign/volunteeringwithseniors

Get You Business Involved:

Whether you work for a large company or have your own small business, you can get involved on a corporate level. Charity Navigator has written an article with some great advice about giving through your workplace: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/cpid/159

If there’s a particular cause you’d like your workplace to consider, most charity and nonprofit websites will have information for corporations you can print out or email to your employer.

Want to find real, lasting meaning in your life without creating new humans? Become a servant to the ones who already exist.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids
How to Have a Meaningful Life Without Kids – An American Spinster Blog Series

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Learn & Teach – A Meaningful Life without Kids

How to have a meaningful life without kids – Part 3/5 – Learn and Teach

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Part 3/5

One of the most fulfilling ways to live is to continue your education every day of your life, and pass what you know onto others. Education is what helps us grow as human beings, to continue our spiritual, mental, and emotional evolution. So if you’re wondering what the key to living a meaningful life is, this is it.

Learning
Part of being a single and/or childfree person is being able to develop yourself to your own fullest potential. Often parents set aside their own education to focus their energy on helping their children get the most out of theirs, but as a childfree person there’s no reason to stop learning. Many colleges (including prestigious universities like Harvard) offer full online courses for free. You can do that in your spare time with no financial commitment.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Education
Community Colleges are great places to learn a new skill or continue your education.

You can also use a continuing education to improve your career. A number of the colleges and universities I mentioned above offer the option of receiving a certificate upon completion of the course (usually for a small mailing fee). Or you can simply take classes at your accredited community college. Even if a course isn’t directly related to your field, proof of a continuing education looks fantastic on your resume.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Learn and Teach
Learn a new skill just because you can.

But learning doesn’t have to be academic. If there’s a new skill you’ve been wanting to add to your arsenal, go out and learn it. It doesn’t even need to be practical. Are you an adult who’s always wanted to learn ballet? Go find a class. The important thing is to keep your mind (and body) learning new things.

Teaching
Teaching others not only helps you solidify what you know, it’s also a rewarding experience. By sharing your knowledge with others (either by writing an eBook, a tutorial, or in a more formal situation), you can help enrich someone else’s life and, in a small way, contribute to the education level of humanity. Helping to guide someone from ignorance to enlightenment is one of the most fulfilling ways to live your life.

How To
If you have the time and the financial ability, take a class at the community college every semester. If not, take advantage of the hundreds of legit, free online courses from major universities.

Have a Meaningful Life without Kids - Learn and Teach
Take free online courses from accredited universities in your own time.

http://betteryourselfonline.com/free-online-courses/ This is an amazing resource listing over 1100 completely free online courses.

http://www.udemy.com Udemy is a great way to learn new skills, but it’s also a way to share them with others. Create your own course to share what you know with students from all across the world.

If you’re looking for something less formal, try creating a youtube tutorial about something you know.

Looking for something more formal and long-term? Look up local places teaching what you’re skilled in and find out what their requirements are to become an instructor. Many disciplines require some type of mandatory training or knowledge test, but don’t let this intimidate you. Get the certification you need and become an official teacher of what you love.

How to Have a Meaningful Life without Kids
Part 3/5 – Learn and Teach

Next up is Part 4/5 – Help the Vulnerable