3 questions you probably never ask yourself (but should)

1.    How valid are my life assumptions?

If I do “A” then “B” will happen. This is the model we use to set up our life activities. An example would be…

… if I work for three years in this role and then do my MBA I will be considered for this role in my career.

Another variation is

… avoiding confrontations and arguments is the best way to live a low-key, calm, productive and peaceful life

When I work with clients in a coaching relationship we very quickly articulate what they are assuming to be true and then go about testing the validity of these statements. This is important because very often people receive contradictory evidence about their assumptions but ignore it and then they wonder why “things are not working out for them”.

I suggest you have a go at articulating what your assumptions are in the different areas of your life and then list all the hard “data” that supports or refutes these assumptions. You can also set up experiments to collect data on your assumptions, for example in the case of your career ask some people further down the track you are on for their advice re your plans (do you really need an MBA?)

2.    What fears underpin my behaviours?

I’m sorry to tell you and you may not like me saying this but most of us are driven by fear. Our behaviours are strongly influenced by what we do NOT want to happen to us. At a very basic level this means we don’t like being in discomfort (emotional, psychological or physical) and prefer to move towards comfort. We will go to great lengths to avoid the things that we are fearful of. This dramatically modifies our behavior and limits our options to explore life fully.

Don’t get me wrong we need to protect ourselves from danger but in the modern world most of what we fear is not really going to harm us in any lasting way. This is primal fear from the old “caveman” days that is still hardwired into our self-protective fight/flight neurological systems (this book can tell you all about the science).

Knowing what really are your deepest fears is useful in that you become aware of the drivers of your behavior, these really are another group of assumptions that need to be tested. For example you may fear looking foolish (a popular one) if you speak in front of your peers or you may fear becoming homeless if you loose you current employment (Really? What are the chances of you having to live on the street!?).

I suggest you consider some the worst-case scenarios you may have been subconsciously assuming to be completely and immutably true and take 5 minutes to separate facts from feelings; truly assess the veracity of these fears. I would bet you would find that your mind has created a monster for you to be scared of and has overdone the consequences of these fears being realised which in turn skews your behaviour excessively.

3.    What is my “why bother”?

Why bother getting out of bed in the morning; why not just do whatever you want and to hell with all the crap you have to put up with in your daily life.

This is a good question and I suggest you have a good answer (for your self). Of course this question is one that is uniquely human, “the meaning of life” … ok I’m not going to get all deep and meaningful here but suggest you know why you do what you do, at least at a very basic level. Here’s my why bother:

I get up each day because action is what matters; doing is what makes the world a better place for us all. My actions aim to get us all more aware and working harmoniously together as people, workers and as a global community.

My actions are based on:

  • what I consider my duties, to my self, family and others;
  • what is the best use of what I bring to the world,
  • what did I sign up for and commit to and therefore need to strive to deliver against.

Finding your “why bother” is (relatively) easy, just keep asking the question and then argue back to yourself by saying “so what!?” after each response. Eventually you will get to an answer that has some meaning.

Of course if all of my self-help advice in this post is too hard to do on your own then call me and we can do some coaching work together, wouldn’t that be fun!?


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Posted in Career, Change behaviour, Find meaning, Mistakes
3 comments on “3 questions you probably never ask yourself (but should)
  1. Raksha says:

    A very insightful read! Constant learnings in self-mastery are essential in living authentically. Thank you, Niall!

  2. Phil says:

    Niall, a very true read that has allowed me to take a reality check on procrastination. There is meaning in everything we do! Cheers Phil.

  3. Neil says:

    Thanks Phil. Insightful and always worth the read.

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