It’s the time for resolutions, thinking ahead, making changes. You know you aren’t in the best place, but you don’t know exactly where and how and who you do want to be. Sometimes, taking a minute to ask yourself some key questions can help direct your focus.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself When You Aren’t Sure What You Want in Life
There are times in life when we just don’t know what we want. These are the awkward in-between places where we feel uncertain and unsure, and perhaps even question our purpose.
There was a pivotal time in my life, after I got my Counseling Psychology Masters degree and had a private practice, when I knew I did not want to be a therapist.
I left counseling to help my husband start his fashion business, even though this was not an interest of mine. My true desire was to write and publish books, but at the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about.
A year later, while riding my bike on a beautiful sunny day, I tried to pop a wheelie over a curb and fell, hitting the back of my head on a car bumper and then the road.
The neurologist told me I had a moderate concussion and I needed to lie low for three months. I got migraines from simply walking around the block, so I had to stop completely.
While I was sitting at the kitchen table one afternoon, I got the idea for my now published book and card deck set. It hit me harder than the fall off my bike. After helping my husband with his business for a year, without knowing what was next for me, I was ready to hit the ground running.
These places where we are asked to be still and experience the unknown are as important to our journey as the times when we feel certain. An empty blank canvas permits the unanticipated and unexpected to appear.
Like a trapeze artist letting go of one bar we suspend in a gap before the next bar comes swinging towards us. This space is the catalyst that creatively births us into new ways of being.
Here are five key questions to experience relaxation, stillness, and peace while resting in the uncertainty of the unknown:
1. What if I didn’t have to search and know what I want right now?
Searching causes us to look for something “out there” in order to fill a perceived sense of lack, when what may serve us more right now is to simply be in the emptiness.
When something is ripe and ready, it will come to us as an insight, a direct “knowing,” as if from a higher place beyond the mind.
As if from nowhere, we feel in our hearts an unquestioning “Yes!”
In the effort of “trying to find,” we jut out into the future. Yet, it’s really in the present moment where we actually discover it.
Looking back, I realize there were many important things I learned while helping my husband with his business that helped me in the business of publishing my book.
It was all divinely perfect.
2. What if I didn’t have to force change to happen?
I used to love puzzles, but those 1,000+ piece puzzles, where all the pieces looked alike, freaked me out. I remember out of frustration picking up a piece and trying to force it to the fit in the puzzle.
You know exactly where this got me.
We can’t force something to come, but we can set our intention for it. I set an intention to write and publish books ten years before it actually happened. But during that time, I gathered all the pieces I needed to create my first project, including the content, the personal experience, and the inner–growth.
One day, beyond my control, all the pieces came together for a moment and fit.
3. What if I focus on how I can help others?
Even if you don’t know exactly what you want next, you can start by helping other people, in a way that feels meaningful to you, and see where that leads you.
When we look at what we love doing and we combine it with the desire to help others, these two components come together and ignite like a match against a surface.
4. What if I could let go?
What if you could let go of the need to know it or discover it right now?
This is not about resolving yourself or giving up on a dream. But when we drop the grasping and the need to have it, we give ourselves some room to breathe.
Then we are freer to explore, to be inventive, and to create just for the pure sake of creating, without being attached to the dream having to come into form.
With some spaciousness, we feel more relaxed, and more able to meet the present moment and enjoy the process.
5. What if I could feel safe in the unknown?
Unfortunately, my mother, who has cancer, goes in and out of the hospital almost every three weeks for chemo treatments.
Every day when I see or speak to her, I get the same unbelievable attitude. While waiting for news from recent tests, she always surrenders to the unknown.
“Mom, how do you do this?” I asked wanting to learn. “Isn’t it hard to wait like this—in the unknown?”
As if I asked a silly question, she responded quickly, “That’s what we all do, Lynn, all the time. That’s what life is.”
“How did you get so wise?” I asked. “How can you be so patient?”
“That’s all we can do,” she responded. “We have no other choice. One step at a time”
For my mom, it’s more like “Don’t sweat the big stuff.” The small details are where she can gain some sort of control.
She likes her coffee poured two inches into the cup and microwaved for thirty seconds. Her day planner, Chapstick, and crossword puzzles are stacked neatly to the left on the hospital bedside table, and the phone sits on the bed next to her hip for easy access.
She always put out a bowl of mini Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Three Musketeers, as a gesture of gratitude for the hospital staff, doctors, and nurses.
Doing what she can, creating a simple daily structure within the uncertainty of the unknown makes her feel safe.
During a time of uncertainty, remind yourself to let go of the big stuff and focus instead on what is in front of you now.
I admirably think of my mom, determined to build her strength daily by walking rounds, smiling and carting her chemo drip on the hospital floor. It reminds me of what life is all about:
“One step at a time,” as my wise mother says. That’s how we experience the uncertainty of the unknown.
So, what small step might you take? What simple thing might you do to embrace the fullness of your life today?
About Lynn Newman
Lynn Newman has a Masters in Counseling Psychology, is a writer, painter, and game creator (like The Game of You & The Game of Insight – An Interactive Way To Know Yourself, Create The Life You Want). She’s big into unleashing the truest, free-est parts of you, to experience more joy, purpose, and passion in life. Visit her at LynnNewman.com.