There is a lot of power in the questions we ask ourselves. Are we asking the right questions? I’ve been noticing a lot of bad ones:
“What do I want to do today?” I want to do all kinds of things. Some indulgent, some productive, some charitable. Looking for some inner answer to spring forth from the question is not likely to be too effective.
“What do I need to do today?” To accomplish what? I have infinite things I need to do. The world needs saving, budget needs balancing, pets need rescuing. How can I choose?
“What should I do today?” According to what criteria? Lots of possibilities, but who is judging?
Doing nothing now and then is fine, but if I’m going to do something, how do I choose?
Clearly having some idea of the goals in mind would be helpful. I want to be healthy and strong when I’m 70. I want some combination of marketable skills and money to not have to worry about finances. I want to be a good parent.
That kind of helps. I can now ask – “what should I do today to be healthy and strong when I’m 70?”, among other things. So it would be good to go for a bike ride.
But ultimately those goals represent tangible states, not end results. I don’t want to “be” healthy in some abstract terms. I want to feel healthy. I want to feel financially secure. I want to feel like a good parent. And I want Jen and the kids to feel loved and supported. Those are the ultimate goals.
There are many ways to be financially secure that might not make me feel that way. There are many ways to be a good parent that might not make me feel like a good parent. In the end, does it matter if we have something but we don’t feel the feeling that we wanted it for?
So what’s the good question?
“How do I want to feel at the end of the day, month, year, lifetime?”.
I want to feel healthy, so I go for a bike ride. After 30 minutes I’m having a great time but I should also go back and be a good parent, do some work, etc. How to decide? Ride on for another 30 minutes or head back?
Rather than analyze this decision, it seems to work better to picture myself at the end of the day lying in bed – which choice feels better? All the should’s, could’s, might’s are very confusing. But choosing between two choices based on how I’ll feel at the end of the day is often pretty clear.