This morning I took one of my beautiful fall walks and noticed that my mind kept going to several things I’ve had on my to-do list for a long time that are just not getting done.
I stepped back a little and let my mind go — the practice of walking helps me immensely with getting into “observe my thoughts” mode — and pretty soon I saw that the thought that kept coming to the top of the rotation was this one: “What’s wrong with you that you’re not getting these things done? Anyone else would have gotten these things done months, years, ago.”
“What’s wrong with me?” is kind of a default, underlying, unhelpful thought for many of us. I’ve been a coach for about four years now, and I notice this particular thought come up at some point for most people.
There’s no satisfactory answer to this question. There’s no encouraging, supportive answer to this question. It’s a good example of a question that closes off possibility and keeps us spinning our wheels.
As I walked, and got out of my thoughts and into the present moment, noticing the row of trees that has erupted into lava-reds, the squirrels fighting for supremacy at the neighbor’s bird feeder, my mind began to get more peaceful.
And when I got home, I went to my journal (as I so often do), and experimented with better questions to ask myself about these things I am not getting done.
Why aren’t I getting them done? (“Why?” can be a good question, for sure, but in this case, it felt impossibly heavy.)
How do I want to feel about these things on my to-do list? (This created an instant feeling of lightness.)
What kind of relationship do I want to have with these things? (More lightness. Relief.)
Is it worth it to me to do these things? (Ahhh. Here I hit the jackpot.)
I could tell that last question was the one that opened up possibility and movement, because exploring it felt really juicy to me.
So I went through the list of these things that have been nagging at me, these things I’m not doing, and for each of them, I asked myself, “Is it worth it to me to do this thing?”
The answers were revealing. For the first thing on the list, the answer was a clear no. It simply wasn’t worth doing. But I was telling myself I needed to do it. Is it true I need to do it? No. I crossed it off the list.
For the second thing on the list, the answer was a clear yes. Yes, the thing is definitely worth doing. And here is where “why” comes in. It’s worth doing — good to know! — but I’ve gotten out of touch with WHY I want to do it. Time to reconnect with that.
With the third thing on my list, I realized I’m not sure if the thing is worth doing or not. Sometimes not being sure is code for “no”, but other times, there’s fear there that is masking the “yes.” So this one will require some inquiry, some investigation.
I feel so much lighter right now, like I’ve cleared a path before me.
What do you notice about the questions you’re asking yourself? Does your mind jump to “default questions” that may not be helpful, but you keep trying to act on them anyway? Try experimenting with finding some more helpful questions. And let me know how it goes.
Hope you are enjoying the changes that fall brings (both outer and inner) as much as I am.
And: My Mini Unsticky Sessions are half-price through Halloween, when I’ll be retiring them. My intention with these sessions is to help you make a quick shift that allows you to move forward on a project you’re feeling stuck on. I approach these sessions with a sense of curiosity and play, and they’re often a lot of fun. Check them out, here.
Image is “Red Leaves” © Bart Van Oijen | Dreamstime Stock Photos
6 thoughts on “Is it worth it? (and other helpful questions)”
Ahhhh, Jill, love this question! Is it worth it? I’m going down my to do list right now and ask that of every item on the list. I’ve been feeling heavy lately, and now after reading your post I’m thinking it is because I’m lugging around a lot of needless to-do’s. Not only was your fall walk beautiful and energizing, but it was very productive, too! 🙂
Mary, I’m glad you find that question helpful! Those needless to-do’s can definitely create a feeling of heaviness. It feels so good to let go of what we can, and get clear on what we actually DO want to do. Thanks so much for reading and sharing! 🙂
It’s so helpful to find the right question. I’m glad you found a way to feel lighter with your to do list, and I love that you were able to just cross one of the things off! I’m with a big, ‘What is my purpose? How does life want me to contribute to this world?’ and I think the reason it’s not a very helpful question is it’s just to big AND I can feel that I’m searching for/hoping for a single clear answer…and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist. I think I should probably start by identifying those things that I enjoy and that make me happy, and make a list of those…and begin from there. Oh and I did do some drawing the other day, which was soothing and fun…Hugs, H xxx
Harula, I know what you mean about that question feeling too big. And you’re right, our purpose and contributions can take many forms, different at different times in our lives, so I love your idea to start by identifying the things you enjoy and that make you happy (it seems like you’re very good at that already!). I’m thrilled to hear you did some drawing! That’s wonderful. Thank you so much for commenting, my friend. 🙂
As always, you HAVE hit on something juicy; is it worth it? Love this!
It can be so easy to get overwhelmed with something, a too long to do list, etc. Sometimes getting down to brass tasks with such a direct approach is what is needed to create movement.
One question I often use is: Will this help me stay aligned with Who I Am or does it feel off to me? My intuition is often dead on about these things, so this approach often helps me. (I try to figure out Why I feel off.)
Thanks for sharing this scenario and life experience and how, once again, journaling our questions can help us move forward!
Dawn, your question is fantastic! Asking if the thing in question will help you stay aligned with who you are really cuts right to your truth. And then inquiring about why you feel off about it — I love it. Thanks for sharing that, and thank you for reading, as always. 🙂
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