Updated: Jan 1
Then be clear on WHY and WHAT you are going to do about it!
Have you ever taken the time to think about this?
Simon Sinek, years ago, coined the phrase "Start with Why". This has been adopted by a number of organisations and business coaches to help clarify the organisations purpose...and therefore the corporate identity, culture and offering.
An organisation, a market, industry or macro economy is easy to define, though. At least, relatively easy when compared to our lives, our socio-existential purpose or...the very nature and purpose of life (cosmic level) itself.
Simply put, great minds have for aeons tried to answer "Why do we live?" No one, so far as I am aware, has come upon the one true answer.
So, in the face of this seemingly impossible task...
"how can one ever be expected to base life-making / changing decisions on the answer to a riddle that no one can answer?"
With everyone potentially searching, in vain, for their true purpose in life...
Is it any wonder that statistics are showing increases in stress, stress related illness, youth suicide and substance abuse?
Is it any wonder there is such an upsurge in mindful, conscious, holistic, etc practices and the call for them?
Is it any wonder that the so-called 'self-help' industry has another messianic figure in it, declaring the panacea to to our modern existential dilemma (i.e. we're not happy...?) is only $99.99 away on Instagram? A short click of the picture with the perfectly toned, young, hot blonde in yoga leggings away...
With the 'WHY?' question being impossible to answer, the alternative has been to revert to WHAT.
It is probably safe to say that most of our time, up to a possible crisis point near mid-life, today is spent on the WHAT to DO and WHAT to BE…and, of course, WHAT to BUY and WHAT to WEAR..., we very seldom consider HOW we want our lives to be.
The WHAT is so easy to not think too much about…it is about profession, activity, industry, job, career, socialising, fashion,...all manner of societal norm and cultural / traditional bias and expectation.
Our education systems are built around it and our economy depends on it.
Our society expects it and judges us as lacking if we do not have a view on it.
Our media systems drive and reinforce it.
Think about it..."What are you doing?" What are you going to study?" What are you going to be when you grow up?" "What do you want from me?" "What have you achieved today / this year?""What do you do for a living?"
One of the only times "HOW" is asked, on the whole, is in the platitudinal greeting "How are you?" To which no one expects an honest answer and very few ever offer a truthful reply.
This HOW question is critically important, though.
If we do not know HOW we want our lives to be, will it ever be possible to determine if the things we do (the WHATS) are contributing to creating this life or destroying it? Worse still, they may yield no impact at all.
The HOW is about HOW WE EXPERIENCE LIFE and HOW we IMPACT THOSE AROUND US and the ENVIRONMENT.
Are we happy, healthy, strong, at ease, confident and well...when we do the things we choose to do?
The tricky truth I have experienced - personally and with my clients - is that without first considering HOW, it is often difficult to decide WHAT to change or do (or do less of) in your life.
A bit of “IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING, ANY ROAD WILL DO.”
It is so easy to get stuck in our comfortable ruts, thinking we are “living the dream”, but never being truly content or happy along the way.
As a coach, when helping my clients craft a life plan, they always struggle to do this if the don't know the type of life the plan needs to support.
When looking at HOW WE WANT OUR LIVES TO BE we use descriptive words or phrases like…
OF SERVICE TO OTHERS
IN NATURE MORE
FOCUSED ON FAMILY
These words (above) are from my own vocabulary when I describe my HOW I want my life to be.
You need to choose those that best describe HOW YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO BE.
The key here is to BE HONEST and to NOT make it artificial to suit your life NOW.
It is easy to describe your life now. As above, you simply list a set of adjectives and think; “…job done!”
The problem with doing this, though, is that you will NEVER GET to the REAL POINT OF THIS EXERCISE.
WHY? Why do we do the things we do?
Unlike the bigger existential WHY, this level of WHY can be answered once we know the HOW.
Lurking just beneath the HOW lies the WHY YOU WANT YOUR LIFE TO BE THAT WAY.
When you CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO DESCRIBE HOW YOU TRULY WANT YOUR LIFE TO BE it is unavoidable to ASK YOURSELF WHY. It is one of the most effective methods for clarifying what your real life priorities are.
I only got to BALANCED, because I acknowledged that my life was not balanced and my relationship with my wife was teetering, my physical health fading and my passion withering
I only got to ADVENTUROUS, HEALTHY and ACTIVE because both my parents died in the space of 1 year and I realised that life could end NOW, so unless I have lived NOW to the FULLEST potential I was wasting LIFE, not HAPPY
I only got to MEANINGFUL because I realised that money is transient and does not make the difference a comforting hand on a shoulder does or TIME SPENT WITH OTHERS, HELPING THEM ENGAGE WITH LIFE FULLY AND CONSCIOUSLY
This is a WAKEUP CALL!! Time is measured as the pace at which your body decays toward death…NOT the ticking of a mechanical or digital device. STOP WASTING IT!
HOW TO DO IT?
Face into your life and ask…”HOW DO I WANT MY LIFE TO BE?”
MAKE THE TIME, FIND A QUIET PLACE AND BE HONEST - You have to prioritise this. If you don't you will not prioritise what comes of it
WRITE IT DOWN AND DRAW PICTURES IF YOU PREFER - it is good to visualise this and be able to go back to keep your self focussed
DECIDE THE FIRST STEP TO TAKE - This needn't be huge, but must be something you can sustain. Something that makes an actual difference
DO IT! - then do it again and consistently take the time to figure out what comes next
DO IT AS A TEAM! - This is a great way to forge a joint view of how you want your life to be with your partner. Each do your individual view and then compare and compromise as you choose to.
Can you really, truly afford to waste moments of your life on random stuff that is important to no one or causes you constant suffering and discontent?