Have you ever wondered how to be more serious in life? If so, have you taken some time to truly figure out what serious even means?

a woman's hand holding a coffee mug with the text "How to Be More Serious in Life"

I’ll be honest. I don’t come off as a very serious person.

Sure, I have things I care about and devote a great deal of time, energy, and money to. But I don’t look like someone that people think of as serious.

(It may be all the high top sneakers and the enamel pins.)

Even so, I’d say that I’m more serious about writing than most people are about their jobs. So what does it mean to be serious? And how can a person be more serious in their life?

What Even Is Serious?

Let’s begin by agreeing that you never have to be serious about stupid stuff, okay?

Sure, there are people who want you to be serious about stuff they care about. But if you don’t care about it, don’t be serious.

I’ve had a lot of day jobs in my life. (Too many, if we’re being honest.) And many of my employers really wanted me to be serious about those day jobs. And yeah, I definitely faked it. But they didn’t get my undying devotion.

So when we talk about serious, I want to make it clear that you don’t always have to be serious when others think you should. If that serious isn’t yours to carry, don’t carry it.

Serious is sincere and careful and earnest. And it’s energy that shouldn’t be wasted on stuff that doesn’t matter to you.

How to Be More Serious in Life

There are some things worth being serious about. You just have to figure out what in your life matters most. Then, it’s time to get serious. Let’s talk about how to do that.

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001: Figure out what you care about.

I’m one of those weirdos who has known her whole life what she was going to do some day. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone. But I do believe that people know what they like and dislike. And most people know what ethics matter to them.

And I believe that you can try everything you’d like and quit at any time. You get as many fresh starts as you want.

So don’t feel like you need to know exactly what you should get serious about without trying a bunch of stuff. Hell, I’ve been writing since elementary school, and I still occasionally struggle to take it seriously. (Seriously in the way people tell me I should.)

The key here is to figure out what you like and what you feel deserves your serious energy. What makes you want to take great care?

And guess what? This may be more of a big idea than a thing you can actually do. That’s totally okay. So if you’re super into the idea of adventure, but aren’t sure what that will look like in practice, that just means you gotta try a bunch of adventures until you land on one you want to get serious about.

002: Focus on what actually matters to you.

Once you’ve figured out what you care about, then it’s time to focus on it.

Focusing can look different to different people. And how you make space for this new thing you want to be serious about is going to be different than how other people would.

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I always recommend blocking off time or creating a routine around that particular thing. For example, I have a pretty steady routine around writing. And if I’m working on a specific project, I usually carve out time before lunch every single day to work on it.

Clearing away distractions and making time to focus on the thing that matters to you is a great way to give something you’re serious about the time and attention it deserves.

003: Accept what matters to you won’t matter to everyone.

Now, once you’ve found the thing you want to be serious about and you know how to focus on it, you need to accept that not everyone is going to give the same amount of fucks about it as you.

It sucks, but there’s nothing you can do about.

For the most part, everyone is figuring out what they want to be serious about. Or they’ve found it and they’re on that path. Or, they haven’t found it and they’re just being serious about a thing they think they should be serious about.

That means that not everyone can care about what you care about.

That’s okay, though. Just accept it and move on.

004: Define what serious looks like to you.

Now. Serious doesn’t look the same on everyone.

For me, serious is wearing dog hair-covered yoga pants in my office with my dirty hair in a messy bun. It’s sucking on cinnamon Jolly Ranchers and sipping coffee. It’s typing like a fiend so I can hit 5,000 words before noon.

To you, serious may look very suit and tie. Or Sunday school shoes. Or whatever fancy sort of clothes you’re into.

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Serious is an attitude to me. To others, it’s a look. And depending on what you’re doing, that may determine what serious needs to look like for you.

There is no right way to be serious. So if you’re serious about adventure, then maybe that means going hiking in different mountain ranges. Or meeting new people often. Or visiting small towns and enjoying the experience. Or trying new foods.

So think about what you’re serious about, and what you need to do to be serious about it.

005: Keep on keeping on, fam.

As with most things, serious is a journey. What works for you one year may change the next, and as you evolve as a person, the things you are serious about will shift as well.

And know that serious will look different through different life experiences. Maybe the time and energy you can devote to something will not be the same if we’re, say, going through a global pandemic. So give yourself grace.

Life is weird and you can’t always be serious about the things you care about when your attention is pulled in another direction.

A Final Note on Seriousness

In his episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, Mike Myers said, “Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again.”

I feel that in my soul.

So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to be more serious just for the sake of it. Serious is necessary for the things that matter. And the rest of the time, you should enjoy being silly, or you in a natural state.

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