Do you ever feel like days go by and you are ‘coasting’? You are going through the motions of going to work, having coffee chats with coworkers, shuffling papers, sending and receiving lots of emails and then repeating until 5 PM?
When 2021 hit, I felt the same way. I confess, every so often, I have an existential crisis. I wonder what I am doing with my life. I ask myself if this is where I pictured where I would be. I think about whether I’m building the right relationships, focusing on the right skills, and generally getting the most out of life.
I think these two questions can be prompts you use on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure you are aligning with your best self. And these two questions have made a huge difference in how I see myself, and how I spend my time:
Prompt 1: Why do you think you are here? What are you supposed to do with the time you have?
I’ll be honest, when I ask myself these questions, I don’t have a clue what I am doing on Earth and what I’m supposed to be doing with the time I have. I have a vague idea and that’s what I work towards. The point of the question is not to have a definite answer, but to aim for something (anything). Because taking a step forward when you don’t have a clue where you are going is much better than staying where you are.
For one thing, you’re going to get immediate feedback from taking action. If the path you are taking doesn’t resonate with you, it’ll show in some way, whether it’s constant fatigue, your coworkers shining ahead of you, or general discontent at what you do.
Several years ago, I thought my ‘destiny’ was to be a best-selling author. Then, I thought it was to be an entrepreneur. And now, I think it’s to be a thought leader in getting things done. With each of these ‘small’ steps, I have a path forward. And on each path, I have taken, I have learned skills and gained experience on what is working for me (and more importantly), what is not working.
Prompt 2: Are you living in sync with those beliefs? If not, why not? What choices can you make today to honour your purpose?
Again, don’t worry about whether you know definitively what you are supposed to be doing on Earth. Pick and choose something and then reflect on the question: are you living in sync with your beliefs?
One way to answer the question is to look at your calendar: where are you spending the majority of your time and energy? Is it at work? With your family? Is it writing? How does that fit in with who you are and what you believe you are meant to do?
Another way to answer the question is to reflect on the milestones and achievements in your life. For me, as a writer, I think about when is the last time I wrote and published something. Or if you believe your time on Earth is to be a thought leader on innovation, reflect on when is the last time you shared your thoughts with others.
I like to think of these two prompts like a zig-zag:
Each change in direction (the zig or the zag) is a point in time where I ask myself the above two prompts and then as a result of asking myself the questions, change where I am headed to. Each zig or zag won’t get me to where I am supposed to be, but the general direction is correct. Except here’s the thing, you won’t know whether your general direction is correct until many years later. And even then, you might not have a sense of where (or rather who) you are supposed to be.
Who you were meant to be is not a destination, but a process.