It’s been almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has tipped our world on its axis, leaving many feeling anxious, fearful, and even lost in their purpose and meaning in life.
The impact of the crisis has been far-reaching. In July, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported that about 400 million jobs were lost in the Q2 (April-June 2020). Those who remained employed were not spared either, as millions of workers were asked to work reduced hours or no hours at all (unpaid leave). In fact, ILO's report stated that the estimated total working hours losses in Q2 were 17.3% - equivalent to 495 million full-time jobs.1
Due to the loss of normalcy during the pandemic, experts have suggested that emotions experienced are very similar to grief. These feelings could result in a sense of emptiness and a loss of meaning in life.2 For decades, studies have highlighted that meaning in life is an important element in maintaining optimal functioning and has been associated with a host of positive health outcomes.3
With vaccines being distributed around the globe, the world seems to be on the road to recovery. Psychologically, restoring our sense of meaning in life is crucial and we could benefit from engaging in that process of reflection in a guided manner.4,5
People often define someone’s meaning in life as the extent to which one’s life is “ being directed and motivated by valued goals, and as mattering in the world”.6 This bears similarity to the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” which refers to a sense of “a life worth living”.7
Simple as it sounds, clarifying one’s valued goals can be overwhelming. Schippers and Ziegler (2019) have thus designed a guided process to do so, known as “life crafting”.8 This process guides one through their personal reflections on various life aspects (e.g., social, career, family) and provides guidelines to translate these insights into goals and concrete actions so that one might live in alignment with their values.
The life crafting process
Life crafting starts with reflecting on our own personal values and passions, as well as our ideal future. Thereafter, we look at our specific goal attainment plans and makes public commitments to the set goals. The idea is that life crafting enables us to take control of our lives to seek meaning and purpose that is unique to each individual.
Suffice to say, the past year has been disorienting for many. Recognising the current context, the turn of the new year presents itself as an opportunity for reflection and realignment. If we are willing, this could very well be an invitation for us to take stock of where we are to better work towards where we want to be.
By Alicia Yoon
4. Kessler, D. (2019). Finding meaning: The sixth stage of grief. New York: Scribner.