The Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask
By Amy Potavin
It happens to each one of us, sooner or later.
Inevitably, there comes a time when each one of us is left alone in the dark, and each of us must choose his next steps. Perhaps now is that moment for you. Maybe you have reached a turning point in your relationship with your significant other. Perhaps now is the moment that you realize the company and people you THOUGHT you worked for lack the integrity you believed they possessed.
Maybe it is something more personal, such as a medical crisis that you, alone, must overcome. Or perhaps it is that sudden realization when you know that all your work, all your effort, is simply NOT going to reap the rewards you had planned.
So, the natural question is "What do I do now?"
When you reach this point, it becomes frightening. The path becomes cloudy and the road unclear. You begin to doubt your own internal beliefs and desires and look to external sources for clarity, guidance and support. We look to others for what is acceptable, desirable and appropriate. And why do we do this?
We do this because each one of us is conditioned from birth to do so. Our combined cultures, as varied as they may be, all have one simple thing in common. All cultures mandate conformity, a shedding of the individual and an acceptance of the mainstream majority.
Now, please do not misinterpret this message. I am not suggesting that conformity is a bad thing. The undeniable fact is simply that conformity is necessary for civilized society to exist. Were it not for the phenomena of conformity, social norms such as the laws of the collective "People" against murder, theft and assault would not exist. Without such norms, it would be impossible for people to live together and interact in society, because when there are no boundaries, any and all interaction, including violence, is
acceptable. So, no, I am NOT suggesting that conformity is bad.
I am, however, suggesting that conformity can become, and is often used as, a scapegoat. Because when you reach a turning point in your life, and you begin to look outward at the external sources for direction, it becomes very easy to ignore your own beliefs in favor of following the direction of the majority. The
truth is that cultural and social expectations influence the course of your life choices. We rarely stop to question whether the choices we have made are placing us on the path that we want to take or are keeping us in line with expectations set by others.
By turning this blind eye, by failing to examine your own beliefs and values, you are let off the hook in a sense. You are not required to think about your own circumstances and the choices that you made which led to your current circumstances. You do not have to face the fact that you chose to
enter into a relationship with your significant other, perhaps while knowing all the while that you eventually would not be able to accept some of his or her behaviors. But you did it anyway because you told yourself that it was time to settle down, or your parents expected it, or it was what everyone was doing at the time.
You do not have to face the fact that you choose to work for that executive that you KNOW is deceitful and insincere because you can tell yourself that it is just a job, that the pay is good, and it pays the rent. Never mind the fact that each time you see one of the executive's half-truths, it destroys part of your own integrity.
You do not have to deal with the fact that you are now having trouble with heart disease because you ignored your diet and never exercised, because you can tell yourself that you always put your family first, or your job was more important. You do not have to examine the fact that all the work you have done to get that promotion is causing stress in your family life because you can tell
yourself, "It's all part of the American Dream, right? You work hard, you get promoted, and you make a better life, right?" Never mind that your family is falling apart.
The fact is, your basic beliefs about yourself and about the world around you are both the SOURCE OF YOUR PERCEIVED PROBLEMS as well as the source of your perceived joy and fulfillment.
YOUR beliefs and YOUR choices determine how you respond to the reality that YOU have created. You can choose to be a victim of the circumstances that have brought you to this turning point, or you can choose to learn from these experiences and the prior choices you have made.
Only you can choose a different life, a different experience. And only you can know what the right choice is for you. So now that you are at that crossroad, the most important thing to remember is that life is all about choices. When you get to the bottom of all your indecision, all your apprehension, every situation in life is a choice for you to make. You choose how you react to these situations. It is your choice how you live your life.
You knew it would happen, sooner or later.
You knew, deep down, that you would be right here, facing that decision. That one decision you NEVER dreamed you have to make. That one choice that will be the difference between continuing to live your life in mediocrity and conformity or living your true purpose for your authentic self. Now that it is here, you are afraid; you are unsure.
Ask yourself, "Is THIS the life I dreamed I would have?" Chances are, it is not. So now all you need to do is ask yourself, "What do I need to do to get there?"
These are the questions you must seek answers to. Instead of asking yourself, "What do I do now?" look to "Where do I want to go? Who do I want to become?" Answer those questions; make those choices, and you will create the reality you dreamed you would have.
© 2006, Amy M. Potavin
About the Author
Ms. Potavin is a talented manager with over 15 years of experience and an entrepreneurial spirit. She now works with up-and-coming managers and entreprenuers to help them grow into tomorrows' principled leaders.
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