I find some people have no goals at all, which is a bit weird. I suspect some of them perceive the status quo as basically being okay, which lures them into the trap of thinking the status quo will achieve their goals without their own efforts. This is deeply strange.

My personal speculation is that this is caused by the structure of school and long-term employment – both institutions getting destroyed by their own inefficiencies – so I suppose it isn't something to worry much about in the long term? But we don't exist in that type of time scale. We're here, now, before the wealthy countries have to relearn that everyone is an entrepreneur, and pretending otherwise doesn't get you anywhere.

Of course, there are also the tangential effects of complacency. Parents see their children getting older and more mature, and assume that meets their goals. Perhaps they are getting what they want out of parenthood – time itself did not reverse while they were doing it, so their kids are growing up – but it's also possible they'd be more fulfilled parents by breaking out of their mold a bit, trying more and different things.

Solid relationships (romantic and otherwise) take work. And not the just routine emotional labor of empathy and kindness, as important as those are, but the bounds-breaking relationship building that gives you something worth more and more every year.

A long time ago I thought a tremendous amount of life was just being perceptive enough to notice what should be done and diligent enough to do it. Surely there's some other stuff, perhaps elemental bravery existing as a rarely used but important virtue, but for the most part it was those two.

I think that's a helpful lens for many things, but it also conceals how easy it is to not notice you have specific values that could be made into goals. I'm not saying, brainstorm ideas for goals, I'm saying, you already care! It surprises me a lot how people will not even notice how important close relationships are to them, for instance, but as someone who has experienced true loneliness: the people you care about are (or have the potential to be) far more important than your very self. You'd die for them, even if you don't know who them is yet. You might know, someday – if you notice you want to, and have the diligence to make it happen.

And you should – setting aside that you, to a virtual certainty, already have this value and would delight to see people delighted, you ought to have this goal. I've got no answers to big questions. But caring about people and having them care about you too, that's more important than fancy-pants questions anyway.