Finding the “Why” in What You Do


Photo from BK, Flickr Creative Commons

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet here on the blog lately. Don’t worry–I promise not to bore you with some “sorry-I-haven’t-been-posting-but-let-me-tell-you-all-the-reasons-why” post. Suffice it to say that I ran smack into one of those crisis moments that narrows your view to the basics: family, friends, and whatever immediate demands the next moment brings.

I like to live in quiet denial that bad stuff happens. In my little fantasy world, my parents never age, my kids are never hurt, all dogs live forever, and natural disasters always keep a respectful distance.

It’s not that I really think any of this…it’s more that if I think too hard about loss and grief, I can work myself into an agony of worry over things that haven’t yet occurred. I find it helpful to give just enough attention to the possibility of pain that it helps me to appreciate what I have. Does that make sense? Acknowledge that life isn’t actually all lollipops and roses, because that can help you savor the good moments; but don’t live in terror of the day you’re going to lose something or–worse–someone important.

Not that I’m a fan of crises, but sometimes they bring a gift.

For instance, a crisis can give you a remarkable degree of clarity–clarity about what you really care about, what you believe, what you want to accomplish.

One of the exercises I went through with my fabulous writing coach was to imagine reading my obituary. Morbid, maybe, but visualizing your obituary, your funeral (and what people are saying about you!), or your tombstone provides a way to get a little insight into your true values before one of life’s earth-shaking crises hits.

Or imagine getting a letter from the future, from your older (and wiser) self. The future you has lived a full life, perhaps accomplished some of the dreams you’re pursuing right now. He or she knows what you need to hear right now. He or she know if you need…

  • Encouragement – The road you’re on is hard, perhaps she says, but you can’t imagine where it will lead you.
  • Affirmation – Yes, you CAN reach that crazy awesome goal! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
  • Hope – Don’t give up! Maybe you’re only taking baby steps right now, but you’re moving forward.
  • Vision – I wish I could tell you how this thing you’re doing will change another’s life.
  • A Kick in the Butt – Hey! More moving and less moping! You have people to love, mountains to climb, and more.
  • Or _____________ (You fill in the blank!)

What does your future self feel compelled to share with you? I hope you’ll share your experience in the comments!

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