In so many ways, we do our best to plan given current assumptions, hopes and fears. Invariably, the actual unfolding of our lives takes us in unexpected directions.
Last weekend, I hiked up Mount Olympus…because I could!
The peaks along the Wasatch Front are generally covered in several feet of snow and ice by December. Instead, the sun warmed an already mid-50’s temperature, melting all but a few small patches of ice at the highest elevations.
Despite the forecast, I still wore too many layers and had to strip off the excess early on.
Milestones like a new year invite us to find a vantage point where we can take stock of where we are now and where our unique constellation of experiences is guiding us to.
Here are 20 favorite open inquiries gathered over the years (with sources where remembered):
How do I want the world to be different because I lived in it? How do I want to be different because I lived in this world? (Martha Beck)
What is my assessment now of my life, the world, my place in it, and my trajectory through it?
How can I drink from the deep well of things as they are? (David Whyte)
What do I love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant? (Big Magic)
What do I deeply want to do even though I might very well fail? (Big Magic)
What 20% is creating 80% of my results? What 20% is creating 80% of my pain? (Pareto Principle)
What is upstream from the results I am experiencing? (quote from Bishop Desmond Tutu)
How am I complicit in creating the conditions I don’t want?
Where am I saying “yes” out of guilt, expectations or habit? Can I create a blanket policy that makes it easier to say no? (Tim Ferriss)
How can I better say no to the noise, to better say yes to what I crave? Why haven’t I already?
Am I treading water to try to stay on top of things, or am I getting to the bottom of things?
Are my intentions truly my own, or simply what I think I should want? Who is that voice in my head?
What might I do to accomplish my biggest goals in the next 6 months, if my life depended on it? (Tools of Titans)
What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that everything else will be easier or unnecessary? (The One Thing)
How can I be kinder to myself?
What potential memories am I bartering, and is the profit worth the price? (Martha Beck)
What parts of me are still injecting fear into my decisions? What do they need?
How have my experiences prepared me for what’s next?
Where can I surrender the comforts of hesitation and take a wild leap of faith into possibility?
What can I be wholehearted about? (David Whyte)
What must I subtract in order to add the space for what I am requesting into my life?
During my annual review, after charting out my prior year constellation, I scan the questions and start free writing on the first one that sparks energy.
I may explore just 2-3 lines of inquiry, but the exercise has never failed to open up surprising clarity and renewed energy.