Do you feel like something in your life is missing? Maybe you’re not getting what you want out of your personal relationships or job. You may feel like you’re meant to do something else with your life—something less mundane and more meaningful.

Today, people in their 20s report feeling more negativity than people of other ages. In fact, many millennials find themselves in the midst of a quarter-life crisis, caught between the soul-searching process of finding a sense of purpose in life and the ordinary responsibilities of adulthood.

But, quarter-life crises can actually have positive results. According to Psychology Today, these crises often end with having achieved a decision on what direction to take in life.   

What Is My Purpose?

While this seems like a daunting question that requires extensive searching and trips outside of your comfort zone, the answer to this question may not be as far away as you think. Researchers have found that dreams can point to our waking psychological needs. And, since the average person has four to five dream cycles every night, the key to finding your purpose in life could be well within reach.

According to research by Dr. Stephen Aizenstat, dreams tell us about our unrealized skills and strengths. Clues from dreams can help the dreamer determine a true desired vocation or calling. In other words, they can tell us about the people and activities that bring us the most joy and fulfillment.

How to Find Meaning in Life From Dreams

Some experts suggest asking yourself a question before going to sleep to help guide your dreams in providing an answer. It may also help to have a notebook nearby to jot down dream images and events. Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help regulate the body to experience dreams routinely.

People also use Dream Tending to help answer deeper life questions and find their calling. This method, pioneered by Dr. Aizenstat, involves several phases. When Dream Tending, individuals listen to their dream, find connections between themselves and the dream and interact with dream images.

Dream Tending to Help Find Answers

People using the Dream Tending technique may engage in self-reflection exercises involving their dreams. For example, imagine forming your own “personal corporation” and giving it a personal mission statement. This helps determine your sense of calling—what you feel you could contribute to the world.

Then, take note of the images in your dreams, especially those that may point you in an unfamiliar direction. Look for patterns in your dreams, past and present, including any recurring dreams you had in your childhood. With these observations, you can reconsider the direction of your life with greater clarity from a different perspective.

One of the most important components of this method is listening and being open to the images and voices of the dream.

As Dr. Aizenstat points out, “In Dream Tending the purpose is not to fix images in static explanations, nor to identify with them as aspects of ourselves. Instead, to tend a dream is to attend to the images by giving them time and place to present themselves on their own behalf.”

Written by Lynn West


  1. Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams by Dr. Stephen Aizenstat

Stephen Aizenstat

Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.

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