Deb Sofield


The beginning of wisdom is knowing which question to ask

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What is the question that you would like an answer to? Is it a question about your life, your family or your future? And is there someone who can answer those questions for you?

I believe that deep inside, most of us pretty well know the answers to all of the questions that bubble up in our minds, and yet we choose not to speak those questions. We fear the answer we don’t like or want. We don’t want to admit that the answer maybe something we don’t want to happen in our lives.

Ah, questions! We are all looking for answers, but we hate to ask the questions. We need direction in our lives but choose to go it alone. We need help but steadfastly refuse to drop our guard and show our need, so we proceed to wander or even get lost when in reality an answer to our question would save us time, energy and awkwardness.

Yes, we sometimes need help, yet we stop short of admitting this. We stop short of verbalizing the questions that burn in our hearts and minds; we many times stop short of allowing time to produce the answer that we say we are asking for.

Why is it so hard to ask a question? Any question. What is it about simply saying I don’t know and need some help?

Well, I guess that is the million-dollar question. And to answer it, we might need to make the time in our busy life to sit down and think through not only the questions we have but also the answers. Whether we like the outcome or not, the beginning of wisdom is knowing which question to ask.

I don’t mean to speak in circles, but I find it interesting that when we choose to slow down long enough to settle our minds to a quiet, thoughtful state and ask the questions that are buried deep within, we many times are able to find the answers that we so diligently seek.

If you believe that it is true that the beginning of wisdom is knowing which question to ask, then we need to set aside our fear and start asking the right questions for our future.

Some of the questions that need to be asked and answered are the simple ones that take serious time to answer such as:

  • What do you want out of life?
  • If you could do anything and make a living doing so, what would that be?
  • Are you happy where you are? And if not, what would it take to make you happy?

I’d say the answer to those questions would go a long way in making certain that your path is your calling and not the expectations that others, well meaning or not, have placed upon your shoulders.

Let’s quickly run through those questions and allow me to suggest a few options.

What do you want out of life?

I know that for most people the answer is enough money to live well, find someone to love and who would love you, not worrying about family and friends, to be secure financially, emotionally and physically. That list would surely continue with the benefits of what we would consider an easy life.

As you think about this question, don’t allow the current troubles, anxieties or worries of your world to block your choices. This is not the time to be “realistic.” Answer truthfully. What do you want out of life? And I want you to answer me in three’s. I want __________, __________ and ______. You can add more later, but for now, let’s focus on these three.

Alright, now that you’ve mentally or verbally spoken to yourself about what you out of life, make some time to seriously allow your free imagination to play in the unrealistic options that your mind conjures up and may be your subconscious will provide opportunities for a path forward for you.

I know people want concrete facts and data, but hear me out. When you limit your options, you will never leave the ground. It’s been said that “The gift of flight is reserved only for those who are willing to leap.” So yes, I am asking you to leap into the known unknown so you can, for once in your life, see the possibilities that are laid out before you that you never saw before because you never allowed yourself to leap.

I do believe that unless you can answer the question, “What do you want out of life?” you will be chasing an elusive dream until your last breath because you never allowed for the mystery of life to fill the void.

I am not going woo-woo on you, but I do think that if you are so stuck in a life you do not like, you have nothing to lose when you allow the depth of your knowledge to provide a solution to the answer you’ve been afraid to ask. So ask, and then answer yourself, the question of “What do you want out of life?”

If you could do anything and make a decent living what would that be?

I love to ask this question because, more often than not, I hear some great answers of true heart’s desire for hobbies and passions that fulfill the mind, body, soul and spirit of those who I am talking with. I know that life costs a lot of money and it doesn’t seem realistic to say, “Oh well, I’ll chuck this job and sail around the world.” But I have to ask, what can you do in the interim to help satiate the dream or part of the dream of what you want to do when the time is right.

I have found through the years that making the time to do the thing that fulfills your dream keeps you on track to make it a reality down the road. What I don’t want to have happen is for you to toss your dream aside as being “unrealistic” when in reality you don’t know that for sure because you don’t know what your future holds. Oh you have some vague idea that your dream is not realistic, but unless you dig in and refuse to take no for an answer, you’re right, you’ll never possess the dream. It was Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… you’re right.” Now it is up to you to think you can. Maybe not today, but someday, and that would be worth the wait.

Finally, the one question that seems to strike fear in the hearts of those I ask. What would it take to make you happy?

Don’t answer that for a minute. Let it sink in. This is one of those questions where the answer seems so large that it takes up acres of mental capacity. What I love about this question is that, in a way, most people honestly don’t know how to answer because they have never allowed themselves to dream or they haven’t dreamed in years. And there are many reasons for that. Some would say that, due to the responsibilities that you committed to years ago or yesterday, you can’t just flee your duty, so get a grip and stop wishing for something as elusive as happiness. Or make your own happiness if you’re so unhappy with what you have.

Others would encourage you to do the opposite and let go and live however you want. I don’t have the answer for you. Only you can make that decision. You get to decide what is best for you and what it would take to make you happy. Now I will add that I don’t think it is right to break your commitments, but beyond that caveat, think about your happiness and how you can get there.

I would dare say that most people could tell about a time when they were “happy” a relative term I know. Most can tell about a year or a moment when happiness rained down on them in such a way they could not drink it all in. And I have found that a few friends can tell me when happiness walked out the door–a sad day that still hurts.

Knowing that life has its ups and downs, tell me again, What would it take to make you happy today?

 I know that it’s a hard question, especially in the negative world in which we live. All the negative chatter from friends, family, radio, TV and social media can destroy your joy and turn your delight of the good things into the desert of hate. All the caustic comments of others who have no opinion worth listening to will wail and complain and gripe and cry about issues they know only one side of, and in their venom, they cast a wide net of anger in hopes of dragging you down to their level. Don’t let it happen. Leave them to their own devices, and don’t get tangled up with those who choose to see the darkness instead of light. You can make your world a pleasant place by maintaining your attitude of gratitude no matter what others spew. But you’ll have to work at it. Seeing goodness in the world around you is sometimes hard unless you are programmed for a positive life view.

That being said, let me end on a high note and ask that this week you seriously consider the questions that I posed today:

  1. What do you want out of life?
  2. If you could do anything and make a decent living doing so, what would that be?
  3. Are you happy where you are? And if not, tell yourself what it would take to make you happy enough?”

I write a weekly blog post and podcast because I want you to live your best life ever. I know that while the path is hard, it is doable if you’ll take the time to get back to your original passions that once burned bright enough to light your path and then figure out how to rekindle the flame for your success and happiness. Life is too short to live unhappy, and you were made for more than just existing in the desert of life. You have a calling, a hope and a future if you’ll just take back your life and reset your goals with a path you can walk joyfully to the end; that starts when you figure out which questions to ask to the answers you know.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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