One of the most common reasons why we struggle is because we don’t have a clear sense of what we are striving towards. Lack of clarity not only makes our daily lives more confusing, but it also deprives our lives of meaning.
But questions have the power to turn this around. I wanted to share the following story from Brendon Burchard’s book High-Performance Habits, which both captures the danger of a lack of clarity and the power that questions have to fix the situation:
Kate, the woman sitting in front of me, crying, “has it all.”
She manages thousands of employees at one of the top companies in her industry. But she never lets that go to her head. Her bragging is limited to talking up her team. She’s proud of how hard they work and support one another. She is also raising three children with her husband, Mike. Kate’s mother died from cancer when she was fifteen, so she puts a high value on being present with her kids.
Kate has hired me as her coach. Shortly after arriving at her house, she asks me to sit and chat in her home office. Suddenly, her voice cracks.
Kate: “I’m sorry, my life is just a hot mess right now.”
Brendon: “A mess?”
Kate: “I know. It’s silly. ‘Oh, poor me,’ right? The lady with the good job and good family isn’t happy. And yet, I feel like I’m just reinventing the wheel without getting anywhere. They say be present and love your family. I try. Every day, I try to be good for the kids and Mike. They say be effective. I have the to-do lists, the plans, and the checklists to make it happen. I get stuff done. They say be passionate at work. I am. I’ve come a long way and I’m happy and no one has to feel sorry for me. But I just don’t know…”
Brendon: “Yes, I think you do know. Tell me.”
She pulls back in her chair. Her shoulders slump, and she takes a sip of wine as more tears break out. Kate: “In all this running around and trying to do everything, I’m just starting to feel a little disconnected from it. Sort of . . . lost.”
I nod and wait for what almost always comes next.
Kate: “I just don’t know what I want anymore.”
What Kate had lost was the habit of asking what kind of person she wanted to be. She hadn’t thought about a better version of herself, because she was already doing so well.
This story has a happy ending, as Brendon would later help reignite Kate’s lost passion. What was the secret remedy? He simply got Kate to ask questions about what she wanted to achieve in life. Among these were the questions:
- “Who do I see myself being in the future?”
- “What three words do I want to be remembered by?”
- “What do I want to feel today?”
- “What makes me feel that my life has meaning?”
The lesson: Ask questions that clarify what your end goal is. The more clearly you can articulate what you are striving towards, the more purposeful your life will feel.
Is there any area in your life were you feel stuck or like you are just going through the motions?
If so, what questions can you ask to rediscover what you are striving towards?