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The Two Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself

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The Two Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself - Tips on what to do when life feels like it is spinning out of control.

Earlier this week, my family and I flew 3,000 miles back to my hometown in the Pacific Northwest, where we will spend the summer.

If you’ve been trying to keep track, you might know that this our third cross-country move in the past two years, and our seventh since we’ve been together, from Washington to Florida and back again. So. Many. Times.

This was our first time flying.

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Every other time, we’ve made that ridiculously loooooong drive, taking every possible route there was to take, usually stopping to see friends and family and all the sites along the way.  We’ve gone the northern route and the southern route and the middle route.  We’ve been to almost every National Park.  We’ve stopped at every state boundary sign. We’ve played a lot of travel bingo. We’ve eaten a lot of pie.

And while we have lots of great memories from those trips (and a few traumatic ones), I think I can safely say that I’ve enjoyed enough cross-country road trips to last a lifetime.

Or at least the foreseeable future.

But every time we do these moves, people constantly ask us if we are ready, as if they are concerned that we might not be okay.

“It’s such a BIG move,” they always say, “you must be SO stressed out!”

But the weird thing is, I never really feel that stressed, at least not about the move.  Oh sure, packing is kind-of a pain, as is figuring out what to do with our mail and cleaning out the fridge, and making sure that we have someone to watch our house.

But that’s all part of the process.

Maybe it is because we’ve done it so many times before, or maybe we’re just more easy going or used to going with the flow.  My husband often jokes that his life has been a state of constant chaos since he met me.

The Two Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself - Traveling cross country for the summer.

But while we don’t know always know exactly which route we will be taking, or how long it will take us to get there, or even where we’ll be living once we arrive, we do know WHERE we are going.

And we know WHY we are going.

We’re going to spend time with my mom, who was diagnosed with dementia last year, and to see our friends and cousins and family, and to let our kids experience the kind of summer I had as a kid, one that includes the freedom to run around with their neighborhood friends and to go to sleepaway camp–the same camp I used to go to.

And I think, maybe, that is enough for me.

Because here’s the thing–the rest of the details will work themselves out. They always do. We have clothes and cell phones and lots of hotel and travel reward points to fall back on. And if we don’t know exactly where we are going to live the whole time, we can always crash with family for a few days until we figure it out. We will be fine.

But all these questions got me thinking a little about life, and how easy it is to get stressed out about the details when we don’t have a bigger plan in place. Without a clear sense of purpose—a big why for our lives—it is so easy to get bogged down in the weeds, distracted by the endless stream of demands on our time and energy.

And in order to avoid getting mired down in the mundane details of the everyday, we have to know 2 very important things: where we are going, and why we are going there.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Along those same lines, Yogi Berra noted that, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

In other words, the bigger our sense of purpose, the less likely we are to let the little things weigh us down or get us off track.

And so, my challenge for you, if you’ve been finding yourself bogged down in the weeds more than you would like, is to take some time this weekend to think about the bigger picture, and to ask yourself the two most important questions you will ever ask yourself—where am I going, and why does it matter?

What are your long-term goals and dreams? Have you thought about them lately? Do you even know? Why are they important to you? Why do you do what you do? Spend a few minutes remembering—and writing down—those big things you are aiming for. Get your clarity back. It might just make all the difference in the world!

The Two Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself - how to stay focused on your BIG dreams and goals

5 Comments

  1. June 7 at 07:17AM

    Great post! Thank you for the reminder. Personally, I think a lot of my stress and worry is self imposed. I put deadlines on myself because I tend to work best under pressure, but the two questions above, “Where am I going” and “Why does it matter”, are great to ask ourselves. They put things in perspective. Deadlines are good, but we need to make sure they matter. I’ve been trying to take a more relaxed approach and let go of some of my stress. Because in the end, I want to focus on what really matters.

  2. June 7 at 11:17AM

    I have had such a heavy heart these past couple of months while we are in the process of buying our very first house. Your words really got through to me. Its just a house, I need to focus on why we are moving. To give our kids their own room and adventures, to give them a yard they will grow up in, and to begin the next chapter of our families life. Thank you for reminding me that the picture is bigger than just the tiny problem in front of me.

  3. June 7 at 02:11PM

    As I sit here all the way across the pond in the UK, the thoughts you’ve expressed here keep swirling around in my head.
    I do stress too much about things I know will work out in the long run (things always do, don’t they?)
    I know the general picture of where I want to go with my family life, business decisions etc, and I also know the why.
    I need to connect them almost seamlessly…and enjoy the process while it happens.
    I am so grateful for your reminder today. I hope the children really have a dream summer holidays. We here still have 6 full weeks to go before schools break for the summer!

  4. June 7 at 04:22PM

    I completely agree with you and it is something I try to always remind myself. It is easy to lose track of your why, either by comparing yourself to others or getting too stress over details that do not matter. Sadly, it is one of those cases that sometimes it is “easier said than done” but I believe that the more you try to be mindful of those two questions, the easier it gets.

  5. June 11 at 12:00PM

    Excellent post, stress and anxiety is usually yourself trapped in a self-created quicksand.

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