How to Design a Meaningful Life: Solving Adler’s 3 Life-Tasks

In an era where everything seems possible, we feel the pressure of “living up to our potential”. If we are unhappy, isn’t it our own fault? We are overwhelmed, trying to “find our passion”, dealing with FOMO.

As the world is shouting possibilities, it becomes harder to hear our own inner voice: What is it that we want? What does a fulfilling life look like to us?

Designing your life requires self-knowledge. You have to know what it is you desire, where you are prone to over-compensate, what you are avoiding. Otherwise you just follow everyone else and then wonder why it still feels like this is not really your life you are living.

While this is a very individual process, there are elements that well-created lives have in common. Throughout history, scholars of all disciplines have tried to uncover perennial wisdom of what makes a life purposeful and fulfiling.

I want to share with you a simple (but not easy) three-part formula about what a meaningful life includes according to Alfred Adler, one of the great psychodynamic thinkers of the last century.

And if we have not met yet: Hi! My name is Alina, I’m a German psychologist and psychodynamic psychotherapist in training. I write about the theories, books, and experiences I find most helpful to understand my clients — and myself.

The Goal: Your Life-Tasks

Alfred Adler believed that a fulfilling and meaningful life includes three elements everyone has to incorporate and master. He called them the “Life-Tasks” of community, work, and love.

But before we dive into each of them, we need to get familiar with the fundamental ability Adler deemed necessary to solve those life tasks, which is social interest.

Social Interest

Social interest or the German original term “Gemeinschaftsgefühl” refers to the feeling of belonging to a community. Someone with social…