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“We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there” 

-The Alchemist

My guess is that you’re one of two kinds of people:

  • #1 You’re a lost youth trying to figuring out your place in the world, what the hell to do with your life, and how you can just be happy and avoid all the meaningless stress and expectations.
  • #2 You’re someone already established in a life or career but feel like your life is pointless and that you’re only working because you should be.  You’re just spinning your wheels and existing.. not thriving or creating a life of excellence.

If You’re Young and Lost & Life Feels Pointless

Start Here:

#1 Get the Manifesto: Killing Your Old Life and Living the Dream. Chew on it. Sleep on it.

#2 Get Un-Lost:

#3 Determine What You Want From Life:

 #4 Learn to Be Bold (Be a Badass):

#5 Get Motivated

#6 Pick an Idea and Just Go with It: 

#7 Begin Living an Epic (–Badass / Conversation-Worthy Life)

If Life Just Feels Pointless Even Though You’re Comfortable And “Doing It all Right”

Start Here:

#1 Get the Manifesto: Killing Your Old Life and Living the Dream. Chew on it. Sleep on it.

#2 Realize the Futility of the Rat Race (And Learn How to Change it): 

#3 Figure Out What the Hell You Are Working Towards

#4 Grow the Stones to Make a Change – Learn to Be Bold:

#5 Learn to be More of a Failure Instead of a Worse-Than-Failure (Aka, stop thinking, and start):

#6 Know That Creating an Epic Life Is — Fucking Difficult — But Totally Worth it:

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Helen Keller

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Patty August 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thank you for your blog. I truly appreciate every word I’ve read thus far…

I’ve been trying to work at an article for work for 3 days now and I’m still stuck in a rut. Been angry at myself for not having accomplished much beyond paragraph one. Then I stumbled upon this blog through a friend.

Like you said in your manifesto…”There are a couple reasons why you are here reading this right now.I firmly believe you have found this exactly at the right moment – because things happen at the strangest, most perfect times.”

I think I realize now that its more than just a writing rut… its a life rut.

I’m in a great company, with a great position doing PR, and a position with the possibility to create some positive impact in the world but… yah… “but”… and you probably more or less know what comes after that.

I’ve read self improvement books before but your blog makes it more tangible, relate-able, and real. Not sure what happens now…baby steps..

Continue being an inspiration to the other 20-somethings out there. I’m totally sharing your blog.

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afheyne August 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for stopping by Patty !

Yeah I hear that, believe me you’re not the only one in a rut haha. Been there, done that. One of the things that I also understand is how you describe your job: on paper, it looks great.

It’s like meeting your soul mate who (on paper) looks perfect. And then you meet him and realize you don’t feel anything for him. And then you have no idea where to go next. I mean, you just met your soul mate but it didn’t feel right? Things can look great until you try them.. at which point you may realize you don’t want them anymore.

What are you working on these days? What do you want to change? You can also shoot me an email: Alexander / at / milkthepigeon.com

Best,
Alex

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Ben January 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Well I have a wife and kid, a house, a muscle car, I play in a rock band and I’m still not happy. I hate my job, always have. All want to do is sing and make music. I feel life is pointless unless there is some cosmic alignment that makes things happen for you (i.e GOD). Otherwise 99% of us are doomed to just live life get old and die I guess.

In my 30s I still don’t know what to do. I partied in my 20s hard core and then I clean up went back to school and got an engineering degree. For those 5 years I put away my passion (my music) had a full time job, had a kid and took 3 engineering classes at night. I thought after I get that degree my life would be completely different. I neglected my wife and kids (studying) and now we are almost broken up because those initial seeds were sown in those days and she never forgave me.

I graduated in 2007 and guess what… I couldn’t find a job! So even after getting an engineering degree (what I thought I wanted) 5 years later I’m back in the same job I did before my degree; that is, completely unrelated. I found out that I could not start over and do a career change and take that much of a pay cut. And I hated the corporate cut throat environment where people are back stabbing, ass kissing and politically correct.

Now I’m just a machine who goes to work to support my family and bring in the money. I absolutely hate my job but I must keep it because it gives my family money and medical benefits. On Sunday’s I go to band practice and sing in a band that just seems to be working out. I dunno yet.

I wish I could just walk away and meditate in a cave for the rest of my life. Seriously!!! As you get older it gets even worse. In my30s, I feel like my life is a series of mistakes, a push and pull in a random direction for some strange reason that God only knows.

I think this site is great by the way and thanks for reading my rant.

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Alexander Heyne January 1, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Hey Ben –

What’s holding you back from Changing jobs? And you say you feel that life is pointless unless there is some cosmic alignment that makes things happen for you… so why not find something to believe in? Whether that’s religion or some kind of mission or purpose in your life.

Don’t worry about being in your 30′s and not having it figured out.. most people never figure it out. You just have to keep stepping up to the plate and swinging.

What’s with your band? I know how hard the live off the band dream is, because I have close friends doing the same, but it sounds like lots of your unhappiness is coming from work. Good work that you enjoy can make all the difference, so I suggest taking a closer look at that, and making small moves every day towards getting closer to doing work you enjoy.

You can always shoot me an email if you want to talk more about it and I can offer some more suggestions –

Alex

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Jessica June 11, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hi Ben,

I do agree it gets worse as you get older. I hit my 30′s recently and It’s not as magical as I thought it was going to be. Every year just reminds me that I’m not living. My 20′s were great! I had goals, dreams and I often looked into the future knowing (thinking) something was going to be waiting for me in my 30′s. A great family, lots of kids, or a great career full of traveling. This hope or dream kept me going, kept me happy. Well, I don’t have the huge family and I’m not traveling with a great career, but I have everyting else. I have a son, a career, a great place to live with friends and family, but something is missing. As I read these posts it reminds me of a scene in a movie I watched recently, “Jack Reacher.”

If you haven’t seen it….. He is pretty much a loner in the movie and he explains his way of life to a die hard attorney. He asks her to look across the street at the building with people working in cubicles. He explains that those people aren’t happy, they are stuck in their life and that he chooses not to be. Besides all the fighting he does, this character also reminds me of Alex.

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Ashley May 21, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Great articles!!

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Alexander Heyne May 22, 2013 at 11:20 am

Thanks Ashley :)

- Alex

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Anna July 25, 2013 at 3:55 pm

What you write on your blog is so beautiful! I have just discovered it and will probably spend the next few days going through it for hours on end because it feels like you actually caught the very essence of what I have been feeling for the past year but couldn’t really put into words…
Strangely enough, I am just 20 – literally turned 20 on the 23rd – so I guess I am not the average 20-something feeling stuck after routine job or a settled mature adult – which scares me even more, because this is clearly NOT the time to feel stuck.
And the “check-list” seems fine – moved away from my home country in September 2012 (which was always what I wanted to do), just finished (very well) my First Year of Architecture in a high ranking UK Art School, I’ve got some money to satisfy my needs and often manage to get that extra more for quality entertainment, I’ve got some friends, my parents love me, I am often complemented on my looks, but the aching feeling of emptiness and lack of meaning and general “something is wrong” sensation just got really so deep down inside me over this past year that I don’t know how to get out of it – but more importantly – how the hell did it get there in the first place?! And when I try to share this with someone – people just say I’m greedy and don’t appreciate the things I have. The truth is I wake up grateful every morning – and I realize how lucky I am, but that doesn’t ease the inner sadness.
I hope I will find the words I am looking for here on your blog! Thank you so much for just sharing this with the world – I wish I met people like you in real life!

Anna :))

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Alexander Heyne July 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

Anna,

Other people’s advice is generally useless when trying to solve whatever is going on inside of you. What i’ve found is that, when everything on the outside is great, but the inside just “doesn’t feel right,” we aren’t doing what we’re supposed to be doing. In other words, we’re almost in the wrong life. The way to fix it? Follow your gut. Where do you think you should be, and doing what?

Thanks for sticking around!

- Alex

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Chris July 26, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Alex,

I found your blog a few days ago and have been reading solidly in between my pointless 9-5. As inspirational as your words are, they have also been a bit of a downer for me – the realisation that I am living as one of society’s drones is not good feeling. I have spent years trying to comprehend the life I lead, and all I end up with is a feeling of emptiness. There is no journey, or purpose, and it bothers the shit out of me, daily.

I came to the conclusion that blowing it all up and living as a hermit was not the answer, but at the same time, I couldn’t really care less about the money I earn. I spend it because it is there, but it seems a bit redundant within the context of my monotonous lifestyle.

I know that I must start building, and striving to live with greater purpose, and I will.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, you are wise beyond your years.

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Alexander Heyne July 28, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Hi Chris,

Awesome I’m glad it resonated with you. I understand that it might make you feel a bit bummed out… but try to think of it this way: would you rather realize it now, and then begin to make changes (no matter how scary or off the beaten path), OR never realize that you need a BIG change to be fulfilled, and then continuing to live your life while feeling miserable and listless?

You’re on the right path now and I think you know it. It becomes a lot less scary once you start, at which point, you start feeling alive again.

Shoot me an email if you have any questions or want to bounce some ideas off me!

- Alex

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Mira April 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Hi Alex,

I just stumbled across your blog while typing “when life feels meaningless” in google. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts for everyone in internet. You write so inspiringly, if that is a word..

I feel my life is a huge mess, and I think I’m stuck in the feeling of victim. I think my past, and there is some sad stuff there. I have really low self esteem, and although I have done lots of things, and keep challenging myself, I find myself just sruggling with life, all the time. I don’t know what I really want, I feel tired of struggling. I want to be strong, leave past behind me and take real control of my life. But shuss, its so damn hard.

I’m 23 now, and I’m applying to new school.. I think I would need a super shrink to put my mind straight, but that hits so sad to me.. Why do I have to think so much all the time, try to find some meaning. Would be so much easier just to.. live the life. And I already lost my point in this writing, haha. Well anyway I found your site really interesting and inspiring, I really hope I would have people like you around me. All the best for you.

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Alexander Heyne April 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

Welcome Mira :)

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Shabrina May 9, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Hey Alex,

I just stumble to your web by accident. I’m in love with traveling and just started my travel/life blog on my own. After I read ur article about “Where traveling only wont get you to discover what you want but only by doing things” it really inspired me. After read that, I think I kinda know what I really want to do and not use travel as an excuse to “Discover” more in life. Actually, it does not take long to discover again of what makes my life have more meaning after I read ur article, it just make it stays on track again after I’m in the euphoria mode of having my own blog. hahaha. Thanks for all insights.

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Alexander Heyne May 12, 2014 at 10:20 am

You’re welcome Shabrina :). If you ask me, travel is always worth it – life is about experiences, the journey is the point. But personally I try to discourage people from traveling thinking that it’ll solve their life problems.

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Cucumber June 18, 2014 at 9:43 am

Stumbled upon your blog when I was just randomly searching for ideas to “move somewhere and get a fresh start” (yes, I was turning to Google for advice on my mid-career crisis). It seems like you have some great insights on how to live a happy life. I could use some of that.

I read one of your articles from a couple of years ago about people who’d quit their job to travel the world just to end up going back to the same old miserable life. I know quite a few people that did that, and I’ve always wondered if they actually ended up finding what they set out to find — the meaning of life, a passion that makes good money… etc. etc. It’s hard to tell coz most people would rather put up the “my life is awesome and I’m awesome because I’ve traveled the world” facade rather than admitting defeat.

I have traveled quite a bit for the last 3 years myself, although I never had to quit my job. I put up the “my life is awesome because I travel” facade, too. But I haven’t found my life’s passion, and I dread going back to work at the end of every trip. I am starting to think that all this traveling had ruined my chance at happiness. You see, traveling opens your eyes. The more I travel, the less satisfied I am with what’s around me. I know there is always a more fascinating place to be, a more stimulating conversation to be had, with people that are actually interesting and inspiring. I can no longer go back to hanging out with old friends and listening to them talk about their mundane lives (although I still love them dearly).

How do you recover from that? How do you undo what’s done? I am getting “of age” now and I think I should settle down and start a family. But I simply cannot imagine settling down in any of the cites that I’ve lived (actually I cannot imagine going back to the US, period). I mean, I DO want to settle down and have a family. But where? I miss home, but staying home suffocates me. I am worried that, even if I do “move someplace new and get a fresh start”, in a couple of years I will again grow restless. If you’re never content, how can you possibly find happiness?

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Alexander Heyne June 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Hi Cucumber,

“If you’re never content, how can you possibly find happiness?” That’s the point, you can’t, unless you learn how to be content.

Look – life isn’t either/or. You don’t have to settle in one place and forever live a boring life. There are people who live in one spot and still travel lots, but have a home base, friends, a family, stability, etc.

Why not figure out how to live a bit of an unconventional lifestyle?

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Dawn Flynn July 1, 2014 at 9:18 am

Hey Alex,

I just wanted to say that I am (almost) out of that trap of living a life with no meaning.. and it’s taken some hard work, sweat and tears to get here. It’s taken me a long time – I’m in my 40′s now – but I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel.

I had a great time in my 20′s, in a career that was great, but not well-paid and suited my party lifestyle. I left because I thought getting a degree would be the way to start my 30′s and earn a good salary. I got a degree, met my hubby (he is The One), got a great job and concentrated on a ‘fab’ career in accountancy…only it wasn’t.

I felt totally crap most of the time, even though on the outside, things were just getting better and better. I was promoted several times and bought a house. Then something terrible but bizarrely, wonderful happened. My hubby and I got made redundant at the same time.

We were absolutely skint and had to ‘streamline’ (penny-pinch) our lives to cope with rising debts and no cash. Stupidly, I thought this would be a great time to start my own business in a brand new field with the redundancy cash I had – at the start of the biggest recession since the 1930′s! :-O Big Mistake…

The new business was a disaster (and a great experience about what I didn’t want) but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me a real chance to start a corporate from the bottom and do something I wanted to do, rather than what I thought I should do. I went back to doing some basic admin temporary work, whilst I worked on what I actually wanted, moved on and eventually found a job I really enjoy (even though it’s pretty stressful at times)…

I am still happily married – we celebrate the fact that we are happy and still in love after almost 20 years very often. He has now re-trained and is in the process of getting a job he actually wants to do (and so is good at) rather than the ‘fab’ career that he thought he should be getting when he was 21 and his family expected. We are starting to be able to travel again and finally coming out of heavy black cloud that we were under. It’s not all wine and roses – my folks moved in with me due to my Dad being very ill and Mum needing help and support with him, so it gets pretty stressful at home sometimes too.

Looking back, I can honestly say that it’s true that when one door closes another one opens…but it’s hell in the hallway and so worth passing through…

Well done on your blog – we’re on this planet to be happy for ourselves – not living up to everyone else’s versions of being ‘happy’. To anyone thinking of making the change, go for it – you have only the rubbish to get rid of.

Have Fun,
Dawn.

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Alexander Heyne July 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Dawn – what an incredible story, and that’s amazing that you two are still going so strong after 20 years. Keep fighting the good fight – no one said it was easy, but it’s the most worthwhile fight in the world.

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Leigh July 6, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Thanks for all the great articles. I found Milk the Pigeon at a time in my life where I’d taken the corporate job because I wasn’t able to make my true dream of becoming a doctor possible. I had literally been trying to get into med school for 9 years. I had completed two other science related degrees during that time, but was still unhappy. I read your article and applied for the final time to a medical school in China. I heard a couple of days ago that I was accepted. I am beyond fucking ecstatic that I persevered and have now been accepted. Thanks again, this website has definitely helped me out.

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Alexander Heyne July 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

That’s awesome Leigh! Congrats :-). Keep hustling and grinding towards that dream.

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