“What you are is where you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” – Buddha
This quote was printed on the tag hanging over my morning mug of tea. It’s worth thinking about, especially if you are feeling lost or feeling like your life lacks meaning.
By understanding the path you have taken, you are in a good position to decide where you’d like to go. But who you are is complex, so it’s important to think about yourself on many levels. Take some undisturbed time to consider:
- Your roles (e.g. father, child, student, boss, wage earner)
- Your traits (e.g. nurturing, fun-loving, serious, altruistic)
- Your relationships (past and present)
- The challenges you’ve taken on, the failures you have endured, and the successes you enjoyed (Ask yourself: When the road got bumpy, how did I respond? When the road was smooth and the terrain comfortably familiar, did I decide to stay the course or head for unknown territory? )
When reflecting on these areas, you might find it helpful to write about them. Also, revisit your thoughts at another time, maybe sharing them with a close friend. Continue to review this at different times until you feel you have a good sense of yourself.
The next step is to consider the road ahead. Ask what you want for yourself; and then be curious about your response, looking to make your answer vividly clear. Follow up with questions about how you might achieve your goals. This process can help you decide what actions you would like to take now.
You might, for instance, choose to clarify your desire to be a better spouse. You can ask yourself, What do I want to do differently? If you have a list of changes you’d like to see, prioritize them. Where do you think it is best to start? What are you willing to do now (after doing all of this reflection)?
Whether you are considering what you want to be at work, home, or with friends, the same process can apply. As you proceed, make sure you respond to challenges the best that you can. While life can have a way of spoiling plans, how you respond is up to you. If you don’t know a better way to cope, look for help. That is itself a way of coping. But always keep in mind that your current actions create what you will become.