This morning in my reflection, I was reminded of a question I ask myself as well as my clients. Before I start, I might warn you that I may very well sound quite morbid. I don’t mean to, but it’s a question I ask myself to bring things into check. If you’ve read from me before, you might have even heard me ask the question before. I believe we are to go through life living with purpose. I’ve found in myself and many people I work with, it’s hard to do things day after day without a reason behind them. In order to feel a sense of purpose, that we like our lives, we need to reflect.
So, if you’re up for it, I tied a few extra questions along with it.
1) At the end of your life, will you have wished you did anything differently? If you are on your death bed, what would you say about your life if you scan back over it?
2) What will you say gave your life purpose and meaning? Will you be able to say, “that was a life well lived?”
3) Is there anything you see as an invitation to change in your life right now?
4) What do you need more of (courage, strength, trust, etc) to make any necessary changes?
Maybe these questions came up for me for a reason. Maybe I knew that all the talk of New Year’s Resolutions would be coming our way. I think a big reason New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is because we don’t connect enough of our heart’s to the process. Not for nothing, but I’d say these questions get right to our core heart’s purpose in life. They aren’t easy to work through, so grab a trusted friend if you find yourself surprised by any of your answers.
Here are some of my answers from my reflection time:
· Road trip with Alan & Marley in an R.V. I know, I got super deep with this first one. (NOT!) But the truth is, when I look over memories from the past few years my favorite are little getaways we’ve had. They don’t need to be expensive, they just need a good dose of adventure.
· Less striving, more being. Stop making so many goals. Accept who you are. This has been a lesson for me recently. In one sense I need to accept who I am, which is someone who always has a goal. In the other sense, I want to open that up a bit. Last week I was down on myself and I said, “how can I be a therapist (a position that is all about relationships) and be as task oriented as I am?” Thankfully, I had a few wise voices encouraging me just to accept this part of who I am.
· Trust what lights you up inside. That’s God. I want to trust the moments when my heart beats faster out of excitement. I also want to accept that it’s ok to say “yes” to those things a bit more in my life. I think at the end of my life I would regret following too many “shoulds” rather than that excited pitter patter of my heart. Yes, there’s always the things in life we must do that aren’t always exciting, but sometimes I play it too safe. I want to follow what lights me up a bit more.
· Let go of what you can’t control. I need to control myself, then hand off to God interactions with others or events that haven’t gone as planned. As much as I like control, I want to live a bit lighter knowing that everything is not a 3-step plan.
· While family is important, so is my work. Own that. I know for people, especially women, we get caught up in messages of what type of mom we are to be, how we are to look, etc. I love my family. They are what I prize most in life. I also enjoy my extended family. But I also know, I have a special light that flickers on when I get to do “my work.” I put that as “my work” because I define it as a life path. It’s the work of investing in others. Of cheering them on. I never want to put these things in front of my family, but I won’t be satisfied with life if I would give up the work I do outside of my family.
You know what quote just came to mind? One I hang on my wall by Mother Theresa. I am paraphrasing, but it says:
You want to change the world? Go home and love your family.
I see life like this...
Invest in yourself->Invest in your family->Invest in the world
This might not make sense after what I just shared about loving my outside work. But what I always take from Mother Theresa is we need to grow ourselves first, which impacts how we show up in our families, and then from having a home filled with love, we can overflow in the work we do in the world. It sounds easy, but I've found it takes constant upkeep. Each part of that process needs time and investment. My prayer as you reflect on this year and head into the New Year is that this question, "if you're on your death bed, would you do anything differently?," would guide you in your steps into January. Happy rooting, everyone!