I am currently taking a class on success and motivation through the Institute for Life Coach Training (because I am a Life Coach, surprise if you didn’t know this already) and one of my most recent assignments was really fun and insightful. My teacher asked me to do an exercise to help uncover my “why”. Finding your why allows you to then connect it to what you do and keep you moving forward when you feel like stopping. If your why doesn’t connect to what you are doing or what your goal is..then it’s hard for you to justify spending hours working toward that dream.
I’ve spent COUNTLESS hours, days, weeks and years figuring out what to be when I grow up. The amount of self-reflection I’ve done and the assessments I’ve taken is a little bit embarrassing. But anyway, on to the exercise. Basically you are supposed to spend 90 minutes journaling on the following questions. As you go through the questions or at the end you are supposed to look at what pops out. There should be a few “why’s”..which I define more as values.. that stand out. Apparently a lot of people “cry when they’ve found their why”.
If you want to try this exercise at home, clear your mind, grab a cute notebook, close your eyes and think about where you intend to be in three years. Make sure to write in the present tense and answer the following questions:
- What will you have?
- Where will you live? With whom?
- What kind of house, cars and possessions will you have?
- What specific dollar amount will you earn?
- What will every aspect of your life look like?
- What will you do?
- What hobbies will you pursue?
- Will you travel? If so, where, and how often?
- How will your ideal day look like…feel like?
- Who will you be? What qualities will you be known for?
- What impact will you have on others and the world?
- Who/what will you contribute to, and how?
- What legacy will you leave behind? For the world? For your family?
- If all of your finances and day-to-day challenges were handled, what would you do?
I spent 90 minutes journaling and doing this exercise. Surprisingly I did not cry..and I always cry. I felt a little teary when talking about what my love life looks like in three years and a little teary when I talked about my brother, but otherwise I felt pretty unemotional through the whole thing. Maybe it’s because I have done a lot of vision/visualization work before, maybe it’s because I didn’t find my “why”. I don’t really know. Here is what I did find:
I changed the answer to what my annual income is twice. The first time I wrote down a number that was easily attainable in my old life in the corporate world. The next number I wrote down was a bit higher and would allow me to do the travel and living in various places that I want to do. I figured if I am writing out my vision and hoping my subconscious takes hold of it, I might as well reach for the stars.
Money has always felt like a trap to me. If I make too much, I might get trapped in a job or situation I don’t like because I’ve let myself become accustomed to a certain level of income. Or it’s a trap because I don’t have enough and need to get a job – any job – without really thinking about if it’s something I WANT to do. The struggle is real.
2. My Whys
I saw a few themes come up in my journaling. I’m not sure if these are my “whys” necessarily, but striking themes. The most common theme was freedom. This is absolutely not a surprise to me. I am a free spirit, so naturally freedom is something I crave and need. It’s interesting because at one point I wrote “stability” which is often the opposite of being free..but I think what I mean is I need a sense of stability to let me be free without worry. I need relationships, financial means, and purpose to ground me. Although I am a free spirit, I am anxious, an empath and care a lot about what people think/feel. It’s a recipe for internal disaster. Yayyy.
The second theme, or “why”, that came up for me was connectedness. Again, I’m not that surprised. People and relationships are a big part of my life. Although I can’t remember how to have a boyfriend, I have a lot of other relationships that are super important to me. I love learning about people and their stories, their quirks and how they work, and what they want to be when they grow up. I’ve always been super nosey – people fascinate me. Love, family and friendship also came up. I put these themes in a subcategory of connectedness. At the end of the day, I just want to connect with people on a real, deep level. I hate small talk. Tell me your hopes, dreams, and fears and I’m yours forever.
My final theme was inspiring others/being admired. I love to hear “You inspired me to do this” or “I admire you because of this and want to be more like that”. Does this make me a narcissist? I don’t know, maybe. But if I dig a layer deeper I find that this means I love to see people take action after being inspired. I know that feeling when inspiration hits and I want to elicit that in others through my words, actions and stories. I want to help others get to their “aha’ moment when their wheels start churning and ideas start pouring out of their hearts. I love inspiration. And yea, there’s a part of me (that dang ego) that likes to be admired…but really, who doesn’t? I’ve spent most of my life downplaying my strengths and successes because that’s what nice girls do, but mama has decided it’s time to shine! So shine on I will!
3. Is this real life?
Writing the answers to these questions felt like I was writing a book. During my journaling I stopped and thought to myself, “Wow, this doesn’t feel like it could actually be someone’s real life”. The question about my ideal day is one I’ve contemplated and thought a lot about in the past. My answer was pretty standard – wake up next to my partner, snuggled between us is my dog, Carol, we eat breakfast, I meditate and workout, go to work (which is my own small office with beautiful decor and happy vibes), get lunch with a family member or friend (in this particular case it was my dad), go back to work, speak at an event, go home to find dinner on the table (my future, pretend partner is seriously the best), watch some TV, read a book, go to bed. Easy, peasy right? I think the more unbelievable part of my ideal day is the feeling I have. In this future life I feel content, calm, secure, happy, and energized. Honestly, my ideal day is not that different than what I do today, but I feel anxious, drained, sad, uncertain and scared most of the time. The big question is..what is so different between the life I’m living now and the life I envision myself living in 3 years? How can I move from where I am now to where I want to be? And most of all, how do I start to FEEL in the present the way I feel when I think about my future life? I’ll ponder that during my next lavender-epsom salt bath (tonight).
Like most things I’ve tried, this didn’t spark a huge epiphany or anything, but it did help put together more pieces of the Ashley puzzle! I’m glad I did it and if you can carve out 90 minutes in your schedule..give it a try!