The other day, I was having a bit of an internal crisis. I had recently met with a bunch of really cool women who are all doing really cool things with their lives, and instead of simply celebrating how great it is that they’re doing those cool things, I decided to freak out about whether or not I should be doing those cool things and if the fact that I’m not means that I’m a loser.
Unfortunately for Dave, this crisis moved from being internal to external, but Dave being Dave, he handled it like a champ. He was very comforting and also asked me a very good question, namely, why was I doubting decisions about my life that we’d already talked about so many times and knew were the right ones for me. I realized I really ought to know better -- I mean, I do have a whole post about not worrying about what other people are doing and “keeping your eyes on your own paper,” which I even recently reposted. Sheesh.
Apparently this is a big issue for me that’s going to take a while to really sink in. Luckily for me, the day after my crisis I got another form of encouragement in this area from The Slow Home Podcast with Brooke McAlary. In the second episode, she discussed the benefit of “understanding your why,” or knowing your reasons for doing something (in the case of the podcast, it’s about slowing down and simplifying your life). If you “find your why,” she says, “it’s so much easier to stay on that path.” But if you’re not sure what the “why” is, “then you kind of jump from one thing to another”; you see different blogs with completely different ideas, for example, and they all seem like “a really good idea,” and you’re left feeling very confused. Or, in my case, anytime you come across someone doing cool but different things from you, you second-guess everything.
I love this idea of “understanding your why.” It sounds suspiciously similar to Dave and other counselors’ advice to write out affirmations of truths about things that I frequently start doubting (and is further confirmation that I really should just do whatever they say). This is probably why position papers and creeds and doctrinal statements are written. This is how you keep from being “a double-minded man, unstable in all [your] ways” (James 1:8, ESV).
But the other thought that came to me as I pondered this idea was that if you try to understand your why, you may, in fact, realize that you don’t actually have a good reason not to try something different. And unlike what my perfectionist brain says, the fact that you haven’t been doing that new thing all along doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a person; it means you have a new, exciting opportunity to add more goodness to your life! It’s a “Why not?” So really, you can’t lose when you know your why -- you either feel reaffirmed in what you’re already doing, or you’ll realize you can make your life even better.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to work on understanding my why. Do you know your why?