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There is power in designing the life we want and the impact we can make. Yet at a time when it’s hard to see into the future, make plans and know what might happen, we need to approach things differently. Trying to picture our future with any tangibility is fraught – hello 2020!
Typically, we try to answer the question ‘what does the next 3 years look like?’ and this is where we get stuck. Even if we have some ideas, the uncertainty can strangle any momentum to take action on designing the future we want.
The approach I want to share in this newsletter cuts through this by having us ask a different question.
Even though we crave certainty more than ever, there is a lot to be said for plunging oneself into the psychological or spiritual unknown, and deep questioning is a tool for this. The questions we ask are more important than the answers we seek – when we ask the ‘big questions.’
Right now, I’m hearing lots of little questions being asked – and the answering of these won’t empower us. Little questions cannot design us a new future. Small questions keep us small. Little questions get us little answers.
Questions like ‘Why is it like this?’ ‘Why aren’t I happy?’ ‘What’s wrong with me that I feel so discontented?’ are little questions.Little questions might be answered by an internet search, a book, or a friend, but the answer will not be satisfying or transformational. This is because such questions don’t invite us into an expanded mindset or space.
If you find yourself in a loop of asking little questions, it’s time to level up to ask the bigger ones. Designing an empowering future that is yours to live can’t be done without asking these larger questions – though this comes with a catch. Big questions might never be answered.
Big questions are like a compass or a north star. They help shape the direction of your life. Big questions cannot be answered by another person. A big question might not even be answered in your lifetime, but the asking of it shaped for the better the life you did lead.
Big questions include ‘What is the yearning of my own heart?’ Why am I here – really? And in service to what?’ ‘What truly matters for me?’ ‘Who am I if I am not my occupation or my history?
You can tell whether the questions you keep asking are big or little: if the search for the answer enlarges or expands your life – spiritually, psychologically, expressively – you are asking a big question. If it feels risky to ask – that’s a big question.
At different times of my life the most impactful thing I did was to ask bigger questions and be fearless in listening for the answers. They led me to paths less travelled. They weren’t ‘safe’. The answers didn’t always have approval from my community or society. Yet not asking them, and living into the answers was a price too great to pay.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
What big questions can you ask? What future can you design for yourself that begins to answer them?