One of, if not the most, significant characteristics of this generation will be the vast amount of choices we have in life. Every day we wake up with the ability to shape our day, choose our direction, choose our relationships, and choose our experiences. And like a writer staring at a blank document waiting for inspiration, we can become debilitated by the choices piling on our shoulders.
To combat the amount of energy it takes to make a significant decision, I use a filter that allows me to make wise choices at a fast pace. These are 4 questions designed to match up with my values and the way I want to spend the one life I have.
Is this going to be life-giving or life-draining?
By knowing what gives you energy or the experiences that drain you, we can face choices based on the amount of energy currently in our tanks. Life-giving things are easy. Those are the moments that fill you with excitement, passion, and tap into your strengths.
It would be nice if we could choose only the experiences that will give us life, but some things that are life-draining are important. For instance, when my wife asked for a girl’s weekend and leave the kids with me, I knew I would be exhausted by Sunday night. But it's worth it. My wife needed that break and I needed time with just me and the kids. Draining of energy, but deeply fulfilling.
What could I learn about myself from this experience?
There is always something to learn about yourself - what makes you happy, what is deeply satisfying, how you operate under stress, or the fears limiting you. Each experience comes with an invitation for self-reflection. Before choosing how to spend your day, consider what you could learn about yourself and how that might impact who you are becoming.
Will it bring me closer to my core relationships?
Healthy relationships take intentional investment. Who are the people in your life that are worth investing in and how can you do that? Many of the decisions we make tend to benefit ourselves. Perhaps the next significant choice you make could deepen an important relationship in your life.
When making a significant life decision, it's important to remember that almost everything we choose has ramifications on the people around us. If we are truly going to invest in core relationships, our decisions must be mutually beneficial.
Will it make a great story?
Stories are the spark of life we carry to each of our relationships. The only way to tell great stories is to have experiences worth telling. If we sat down I could tell you stories of traveling Sri Lanka with high school students from all over the world, or jumping off a 65-foot cliff with junior high kids, or spending time at the veteran hospital hearing war stories from Vietnam, or building homes in Mexico. Those experiences were choices I made because I knew the story would be great later. I have found that asking myself this question pulls me from my comfort zone and pushes me to do something a bit more courageous.
Next time you are considering making a significant life decision, use these questions to help bring intentionality to the process. You are the author of your life. The hard work is choosing the experiences that will amount to a great story.