Why do we do the things we do? There’s a variety of reasons, but the important thing is that you are aware of why you do the things you do. Often, we live unhappy lives because we have no idea why we do things.
For so many years, I lived my life for other people. I did a lot of things that I felt I should do, or had to do, or needed to do. And I generally responded to everything that others wanted me to do or expected me to do. And after years of doing this, I was so out of touch with my own interests that I had reached the point where I didn’t even know what I wanted to do.
I knew that some aspects of my life were clearly not what I wanted, but I didn’t know what it was that I did want. It was all tangled up in this murky feeling of unhappiness and fear of making changes because I didn’t even know what changes to make. Because I didn’t know what I did want, I was afraid that I’d end up with something even worse than what I already had. That’s why ranking each area of life can be so helpful in determining precisely which parts of our lives we’re not happy with and which parts are most important to us.
Here’s how to get started:
- Pay attention each day to what you like and don’t like about the activities that fill your schedule. Write everything down in a notebook. What are your time wasters? Which things do you do because you truly want to do them? Which activities are things you feel you should be doing? What things do you do simply because others want you to do them or expect you to? Often times, we fall into the habit of taking on every little thing that others expect of us, not stopping to ask ourselves whether we truly want to do them, or whether they’re for our highest good.
- At the end of each day, get out your notebook or diary, and classify each activity or event as Want, Should, or Others. Meaning: did you do it because you wanted to, because you felt you should do it, or because others wanted you to?
- At the end of each week, total up each category, and you can easily see whether you’re living your life as you want to live it or as others want you to live it.
How did that go? Were you surprised at your rankings? What did you learn about yourself?