For years I spent most of my waking hours doing what was expected of me rather than what I truly wanted to do. I like to think of myself as a strong and independent woman, but somehow I was driving my life following the roadmap of others’ requirements rather than my own. Was I alone in this? I know I was not.
Over time I learned to check in with myself more often, to do a better job listening to my inner voice. This helped a lot and my life seemed more balanced. But still, I frequently found myself at parties, dinners, and events where I did not truly care to be. “Oh well,” I would think, “Life is a series of lessons and there must be some reason why I’m here.”
Several months ago, having learned many of life’s lessons in places I would rather have avoided, I was driving to a dinner commitment after work. I tried to remember why I had accepted this invitation. Oh yes…one of my friends thought I should meet an acquaintance of hers because we had “so much in common.” My friend wasn’t planning to join us for dinner, so with my car idling in a long stream of traffic I wondered why I had agreed to devote a free evening to this. You know the answer – it’s obvious. I did not want to disappoint my friend. It meant a lot to her to make this connection between two women she believed should get to know each other.
That night I vowed to begin asking myself a very simple question before doing anything that required more than a few minutes of my time — “Do I really, really want to do this?” (Please trust me. One “really” is not enough.)
I now ask myself this question many times throughout the day. Many times. There are times, of course, when the answer is ‘No!” and I have to do it anyway. But more often than I would have imagined, when the answer is “No!” I can free myself to do something that I truly want to do, something that I consider more important, more interesting, more fun, more fill-in-the-blank-with-a-positive-descriptor. I am happier because of this simple question. It connects me with what I am thinking and feeling, and it helps me focus my precious time where I believe it is best spent. And when I must do something that I do not really, really want to do, at least I am aware of my resistance and what it costs me. This, too, has been a big help.
So may I suggest that the next time you are about to invest a chunk of your priceless time on something, you ask yourself “Do I really, really want to do this?”