You’re probably very familiar with “the void” and have felt it manifest itself in your life, far too many times to count. It can be temporarily comforting at best but destructive at worst. “The void” means something different to everyone, but it’s the overarching theme of emptiness that’s been as old as humanity itself and isn’t unique to Millennials who are searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, which are mostly filled with mundane work and temporary pleasures. However, it’s hyper-relevant to us today because even when we know there is much meaning to be found in the 21st century and numerous opportunities to raise awareness on issues that were once taboo, the void still keeps coaxing us into oblivion and sabotages our efforts in creating impactful change, both within our daily lives and within the world at large.
Following the void is a form of avoidance (in a literal sense too – just take away the “a” from “avoid,” and you’ll get “void”). Even when you are intentional about your thoughts and actions, it can still be tempting to follow the call of the void and sink into its depths as it consumes you whole, leaving you drained, uninspired, and desolate. Things people do in the void may vary, but here are a few examples: drinking too much, overspending, ruminating over the past, worrying too much, oversleeping, scrolling mindlessly, going to parties with people you pretend to like, procrastinating, overeating, avoiding what needs to get done, etc.
Here are some little things you can do instead of allowing the void to coax you into submission, promising comfort and ease while silently destroying you from the inside:
When The Void Calls You To Procrastinate On Your Creative Passions
1. Procrastinating is a symptom of having too many ideas and being too afraid to start anything because you’re simply overwhelmed and afraid of making the “wrong” choice. What you need to do is make a detailed list of every creative project you’ve ever wanted to finish.
2. Pick three projects that are most valuable to you and either let the rest go or postpone them for later. Whatever you choose, start working on them today, even if they’re just small actions – something done imperfectly today is better than nothing.
3. Free-write. Write about anything that’s troubling you or making you feel less in control of your entire existence and affecting your ability to create. Be conscious of what you’re thinking and feeling. Do not filter yourself because you can’t resolve anything that you haven’t identified honestly.
4. Think about things that you frequently talk about doing but haven’t started. In the creative world, audiences don’t like it when people are just all talk and no walk. Take the first step to start whatever it is you keep talking about and make an effort to keep your head down and remain silent about it until it’s nearly complete.
5. You’ve probably found out by now that giving up on social media does not work. What you need to do is be intentional about it. The people you follow should inspire you to complete your own creative projects, not hinder you. Unfollow anyone who posts things that are irrelevant to your creative goals. Next, set a designated time in your day to scroll and be inspired by others without feeling guilty about scrolling.
6. Do any creative activity that you normally don’t do or were once too afraid to try. Trying something new can help you reignite a spark within you, especially if you’ve been stuck in a creative rut for a long time. Don’t pressure yourself to share this, but you absolutely can if you are pleased with the results.
7. Write an obituary for yourself. It sounds morbid but take this as an opportunity to reflect on every creative project you deeply desire to complete before the end of your life. What would you like to be remembered for? What kind of impact do you want to have on other people? What kinds of lessons would you like to pass onto the next generation?
8. Make a creative bucket list filled with things that are completely doable in a short amount of time. Do one activity from that list every day. This will help keep your creative momentum going.
9. Creativity isn’t just about having fun or showing your passion. Your creative work is shaped by your perspective, whether it’s done intentionally or not. Write a journal entry about your perspective. What’s your cultural background? What are some deep-rooted beliefs of that particular background? What was your upbringing like? How has your upbringing shaped who you are today? How has it influenced your religious and political views? What sorts of biases are you trying to break free from?
10. If you haven’t done so, create your personal brand. A personal brand is helpful for anyone, not just for people paid to do creative work. It can help you become aware of how you’re presenting yourself and clarify what you’re all about. If you already have one, take some time to figure out how to improve it.
When The Void Calls You To Procrastinate On Professional Work
11. If this is a recurring symptom of you either working in a toxic environment or you simply being disengaged from work, start searching for other positions elsewhere, even when they seem out of reach.
12. Design your resume in a way that best represents who you are both as an individual and a professional. Pay attention to color schemes, fonts, layout, and the way you phrase important pieces of information.
13. Make a list with everything you can do and self-evaluate based on what you have accomplished in the past and what you are currently doing now.
14. Maybe you are avoiding important tasks because your work area is disorganized. Shred old papers you don’t need, update your filing system and arrange tools and other desk items in a way that helps you get to what you need quickly.
15. Likewise, do a digital declutter and then create folders for specific items on your computer.
16. Identify important items that you keep losing frequently. Put all of these in one spot that’s easy for you to reach.
17. Make a learning plan with current skills that you need to sharpen. See if there are any online courses that are offered for free and make a realistic schedule for you to stick to.
18. Make a learning plan with skills you don’t have if you need them for your current position or for a position you’d like to have in the future. Then, make a schedule in which you can realistically attain a basic level of understanding and competence.
19. If the main reason why you keep getting rejected from jobs is your lack of interview skills, take some time to meet up with someone who can help you with this.
20. Have an informational interview with someone you genuinely look up to in your field (or a field that you could potentially see yourself in). Be sure to let that person know how you can contribute to the field as well.
When The Void Calls You To Numb Your Unresolved Pain From The Past
21. Make a list of everything from the past that’s currently traumatizing you (death in the family, abuse, bad relationships, bad jobs, personal failures, etc.). It might be painful, but before you come up with solutions, you must identify the specific problems first and how you feel about them.
22. Next to each item on the list, write down how you can cope with them in a way that best helps you move forward.
23. Allow yourself to grieve and feel every emotion you’ve been bottling up. This can be done alone or with a trustworthy friend.
24. Go through your personal belongings and allow yourself to get rid of anything that reminds you of certain painful events in your life or certain people who have brought you pain.
25. Write a journal entry about all the good things from your past. Maybe you’ve been so caught up with all the terrible memories that your perspective of the past is skewed towards negativity. Reflecting on the good memories can help you bring a sense of balance, so that you can understand that there is still hope for good things to come.
26. Make a list of everything you’d like to get over. Tape this somewhere visible so that you can catch yourself before you fall into a rabbit hole of mulling over certain people or events.
27. Forgive your multiple past selves for making mistakes. They’re human and couldn’t have foreseen the future or prevented certain mistakes anyway.
28. Do an activity that helps you become more aware of the present. This can be anything that brings you back “in the zone,” instead of zoning out in the void.
29. Bury the past. Literally. On a piece of paper, write down a list of everything that went wrong in the past and after you’re done, bury it somewhere (as long as it’s not in someone else’s property). This will help you become more aware of the fact that the past is dead, and it should not have any more power over your present.
30. What is it about the past that makes you complain? Answer this question and you’ll see how complaining never resolves anything.
When The Void Calls You To Believe That There’s No Hope For Your Future
31. When this happens, you’re probably all over the place with what you want for the future and all the doubts and worries of everything that could go wrong. Do a brain dump with everything you want along with everything you worry about. Release everything, even when you think it’s silly.
32. Look at the list you’ve previously made. Now, take the time to weed out things that matter less to you and circle the things you want the most.
33. Identify why you worry about the future and how you can take action today to alleviate those worries.
34. Make a small plan for the future. You should not make an overly long or detailed plan because the future does not turn out exactly as you want it to and getting too caught up in the details will cause you to procrastinate on anything that needs to be done right now. However, you do need a basic set of goals or else you’d be wandering around aimlessly.
35. Think about one major problem in your life and do something today that helps you get closer to resolving it.
36. Identify all the things that cause you to feel helpless and believe that a bleak future is destined for you.
37. Find an article that would help you stop worrying about the future. Read it closely and make an intent to incorporate some of its teachings into your present life.
38. Buy a guided journal or make one for yourself, if that’s something you’d prefer. The prompts will help you become more aware of your skewed perceptions of the future and allow you to visualize potential options, which you might not have been considering before.
39. Draw a picture and write a description of your ideal future self. Be as imaginative with this as you can. It can only help you clarify your vision for a future that would empower you, not terrify you.
40. Do one little but important thing today that your future self would approve of and be happy about.
When The Void Calls You To Avoid Resolving Conflicts Or Misunderstandings With People
41. Accept that sometimes with romantic relationships there isn’t going to be closure. This is okay. However, if you really need to, write a series of letters with everything you’ve ever wanted to say to everyone you’ve ever dated. Whether you send them or not is totally up to you.
42. Call up a few people you’ve been avoiding for a long time and check in on them. Let them speak more than you do and really listen to them with a heart of understanding.
43. Apologize to someone you really need to apologize to (it can be frightening, but avoiding it only makes it worse).
44. If there is a work-related conflict, schedule some time to meet up with whoever is undermining your efforts or even worse, taking credit for what you’ve done. Be firm yet diplomatic about this.
45. If there are friends who keep draining you, judging you, or making your friendship all about themselves, be upfront about the problems you have instead of pretending that everything’s okay. If they are unwilling to change or if they disrespect you in any way, take this as a sign that you need to cut them off.
46. Think about what the conflicts actually are and come up with hypothetical resolutions before you meet up with the people you have conflicts with so that you enter with a solution-based mindset, not an argumentative one.
47. Analyze what your expectations are for other people and why you hold them to such a standard.
48. Forgive people who have wronged you. The resentment you cling tightly to will continue to build up, not lessen, if you don’t do anything constructive about it.
49. Sometimes, people won’t want to continue friendships or relationships, and there isn’t anything you can do to control that. Maybe it’s a sign that you’ve been neglecting yourself for too long and you need to work on your relationship with yourself, especially if you’ve been relying on other people for validation and acceptance. Do something that would help you reconnect with yourself – journaling, meditating, exercising, deep self-reflection, or any solo activity of your choice.
50. If you have either no friends or very few friends, connect with someone you’ve been admiring from afar and be open-minded with where this connection would lead.
When The Void Calls You To Neglect Your Mind, Body, And Soul
51. Read several articles (from a variety of perspectives) about a political issue that you probably weren’t really paying attention to before. This engages your mind and helps you understand that even when it feels like you’re in a bubble wrapped up in your own problems, you do play an important role in the rest of the world, no matter how insignificant you might feel.
52. People typically identify themselves as either “math-and-science people” or “liberal arts people.” If you’re a liberal arts person, read something about math and science. If you’re a math and science person, read about something about liberal arts. If you’re both, challenge yourself to expand upon what you already know and take your skills one step further. Challenge yourself to explore ideas that are not within your comfort zone.
53. Play a game that involves strategy. It can be a board game, card game, or video game.
54. Go for a power-walk. It can do wonders for your body, especially if you’ve been sitting all day and haven’t really been outside for a long time.
55. Look for recipes and cook yourself something that’s both healthy and appetizing. The process can help you become more aware of the present and what you’re putting into your body.
56. Make a weekly meal plan and grocery list. You don’t have to have everything be 100% organic, non-GMO, or paleo, but it does help your body when you have at least 75% of your list be filled with healthy foods and drinks.
57. Naps are great for catching up on all the sleep you’ve missed and if you’re in need of one today, cancel all your non-work plans and do it today. However, for the long-term, you need to consider getting your sleep routine back on track and make the effort to sleep and wake up at the same time every single day.
58. Reconnect with a belief system that you’ve regarded as true for a long time. Ask yourself why you’ve been falling out of it lately or why you chose to leave it. Give yourself a chance to immerse yourself in its beliefs and practices (without heeding any preconceived biases) before determining whether it’s right for you or not.
59. Make a “Verse Board.” It’s comprised of verses, quotes from sacred texts, or basically, any quote that touches upon the spirit and soul (perhaps, your favorite bloggers and writers have written something that makes you feel compelled to re-examine your spiritual identity). This is a similar process to making a Vision Board, but instead of photos, you’re collecting valuable verses and quotes that best align with who you are and what you believe in. Be creative and inspired by this!
60. Create a manifesto for yourself that incorporates 5-10 of your most strongly-held beliefs. You’re much less likely to follow the void if you have a resolute vision for your life and an unwavering sense of identity.