The power of vision for meaningful living | by Dr Gerhard van Rensburg

Dr GerhardMeaningful living is not a fixed or static state. It is a journey to a meaningful destination. We have clearly not arrived at any state of perfection. All of us are are in a state of constant change. And the question is: change to what? As we make our choices in response to ever-changing situations, our lives evolve. Are we in the process of slipping further into meaninglessness or are we progressing towards more meaning?

Exercising your will

Meaningful living is to strive for meaning. Striving for meaning requires nothing less than ceaseless work on oneself and refining of one’s personal vision. Of all the things in the world that can astound us, nothing comes close to the amazing fact that we have the freedom of our will. We can choose how we respond to any situation. Not only instinctively, but, more importantly, in a rational, planned way. We can take on the role of a creator and envision a desired destination that will determine how we respond to the immediate situation we are facing. With the end in mind, we can construct our responses to serve the goal that we pursue.

If, for instance, we envision a future of loving, caring and trusting intimate relationships, this will determine how we respond to the actions, words and demeanour of our inner circle. We cannot control what others will say to us, and we cannot control the many things that can happen to us, but we can control our responses, thereby shaping our future.

Keeping working at it

The good, beautiful and just that we envision, will always be work in progress. It is work that starts with the responsibility we take for our choices. The more we consciously embrace personal responsibility for our responses, the more we bring meaning into our lives.

Would life have meaning if we had no choice in loving a God, or our neighbour, or life in general? No – it can only be meaningful in the context of freedom of choice. We realise or achieve meaning by thinking and making choices for a higher order or reason.

Cultivate an inner compass

The direction of our lives and our experience of meaning are negatively impacted to the degree that our responses to the various situations we are facing from day-to-day are impulsive and random, lacking any connection with a vision or any internal compass. Our freedom of choice, therefore, come with the responsibility to plan which direction we will take on our life journey from any moment on.

Guiding questions

There are many facets to a vision for our life. Is there a spiritual quality to your vision? What is the level of self-knowledge that informs the vision? Does the vision evolve and is it a reflection of personal changes and growth? What is the vision in terms of putting one’s talents to use? What is it for family life or contributions to broader society? What could be meaningful in your life, with your unique qualities and your opportunities?

I consider ‘meaning’ a personal assignment to accomplish with discipline. Meaningful living requires us to wake up in the morning with this vision in mind. It requires us to refocus over and over again on our version of ‘meaning’. This has a massive practical implications for the typical modern lifestyle. We have to step away from the noise in our ears and the noise in our head. This is the only way to craft your vision of meaning, the only way to ensure that your life takes the direction of more meaningful creations.

This is a lightly edited version of a blog that was originally published by Dr Gerhard van Rensburg - a leadership & personal development coach. For more, visit -
Posted on January 17, 2018