The hardest question I’ve ever had to answer

For years I struggled with the question “What do I really want from life?” I kept doing what I was doing in my IT career even though I knew I wanted to change because I had no answer for this question. I’ve come across many people who struggle with answering that same question. Here’s my take on why it is so hard for some people to answer.

Our education system teaches us that there is a right answer to every question. Through testing, we are rewarded for being able to recall or calculate the right answers to the questions that are asked. For many questions, this makes sense. Being able to perform a mathematical calculation is critical in building a bridge, for instance. So, we assume that there is a right answer to every question – even the one above.

The problem is though, there is no right answer to this question. Well – not right in the way we have been taught to think of right. There is no formula to apply or some fact to recall here. It’s a different type of right – a right that has no reasons. Answering this question requires using a different technique – one that answers it and then doesn’t look for a reason why. Because I believe, what we truly want just is – there are no reasons for it. And in the logical cause and effect world we live in, where are the right answers backed by evidence, that concept is alien to many of us.

4 Replies to “The hardest question I’ve ever had to answer”

  1. I agree with what you say Nick and I also wonder if it’s hard to answer this question because there are so many options. Is it hard to narrow them down? Is it because we don’t want to choose just one thing or we are afraid it might not be the thing? Could it also be because what we really want to do doesn’t gel with what others think we should do. A move from a traditional job/ lifestyle to something a little different, less traditional is often met with lots of questions, advice, cautions etc.
    Love this post and the thinking it’s prompted for me. I wish I knew what I wanted.

    1. Some great points there Shannyn. You make a great point about options. It’s funny, on my trips, I’ll ask people what they want to do and the first thing they ask me is “What are my options?” One exercise I’ve been toying with is teaching people to tap into what they want in the moment – even if they aren’t given options.

      And you’re right – how often do we do things we may not want to do because we are afraid of missing out? What if they see something that I didn’t and tell me about when they come back and I’m disappointed? I find that it’s sometimes tough to overcome FOMO but it can be very rewarding to honour what I want despite that fear of missing out.

      I think there can be a lot of pressure to conform to a traditional way that people / partners / parents / society thinks things should be. I have found it can be often more about their fears though – perhaps they wish they could do something different or they’d be uncomfortable not confirming, so they tell you what they think.

      Thank you for your comment. You’ve got me thinking about what my next blog might be.

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