A recent New York Times article describes a freshman seminar entitled "Reflecting on Your Life," a series of discussions centered on wise decision-making. Because life is a series of decisions "about where to go from here," the program's essential questions seem worth visiting by all of us from time to time.
One: Am I spending my time wisely? To answer this question, make a list of the ways that you want to spend your time. Now, track how you're actually spending it. What can you learn from comparing your goals and your realities?
Two: How AM I spending my spare time? Time spent in "off-goal" activities might be telling you something important about what want and what you think you want. For example, maybe you really do prefer spending time with people. Maybe you're really not cut out for a desk job.
Three: What gives my life purpose? Are you an explorer who loves to dabble in a wide range of experiences, or are you dedicated to becoming an expert in a specific field of endeavor?
Four: Does my life represent my core values? Make a list of your top five values, e.g., love, dignity, wealth, etc. What do you do when they conflict with one another?
Five: How do I define success? Is it enough to be able to pay the bills while having plenty of time for relaxation, family, and friends... or does success also include meaningful work and/or helping others... or something else?
Whether 6, 106, or somewhere in-between, we're all capable of answering these questions to some degree. With one shot at "life well lived," taking time for a little reflection may help us drive our lives forward with more energy and conviction.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
- quote attributed to ee cummings