What Can You Not Not Do

Do you ever feel like you’re a bit lost in life? Floating day by day, not sure what you should or shouldn’t be doing?

Who am I kidding, I’m sure you feel this way more often than not. I know I certainly do. It’s in these moments that I turn to my wife and I ask her, “What am I doing with my life!”

Of course she just rolls her eyes at me and braces herself for another conversation about life, purpose, and what I should be spending my time on. It’s not that I’m not doing things worth my time right now, but there’s always that little voice in the back of your head asking if this is the right path.

Even though this happens more often then I’d care to admit, I can say that I’ve figured out my path in life well enough that I don’t sprial out of control. I have my moments of self-doubt and weakness and then I find myself again and realize I just need to keep plowing forward and if I do, things will be just fine.

It took some time to get to this place, but how I did it is what’s more interesting. It definitely wasn’t by asking myself the loaded question of What am I doing, but actually quite the opposite.

Questions can be powerful tools when used properly. Asking the right question can get your mind churning and the ideas flowing, but asking the wrong questions has the opposite effect.

Bad questions lead us down the wrong paths and are often wastes of time that are completely missing the point. What am I doing with my life is one of these bad questions. A terrible question actually. It’s open-ended and doesn’t lead you to any answers that are relevant to who you are.

When you ask this question, the answer could literally be anything, which is why it does more harm than good. It’s more confusing than enlightening.

If you simply re-frame the question though, pose it in a slightly different way, then you unlock the real value. The better question is: What can you not not do?

Say what? In other words, what can you do, except it’s more than that. Phrasing the question with a double negative, allows you to think of things a bit differently. These aren’t just things you can do, but they are things that you can’t stop yourself from doing. You MUST do them or they negatively impact your life.

Research has shown that loss is a much more powerful motivator than gain, so when you think of the loss of doing things in your life, you may realize what is truly important to you. What is the thing that if taken from you, would leave you devastated.

This question is getting to the heart of who you are and what you’re all about. What are the things that you love, that you do repeatedly, that you always come back to? What is the thing that you can get lost in for hours on end, without even noticing? The thing that doesn’t feel like work? The thing that makes you feel alive?

The thing you can not not do?

We may not have taken the time to notice these parts of our life before, but when you ask these sorts of questions, they come to the fore. You may be staring that skill or idea or field in the face, but simply never thought of it in that way. You just have to notice.

Asking the right questions can help you do exactly that.

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Writer that designs — or is it the other way around? VP of eCommerce at function of beauty, creator of t-shirts, and lover of books.

Writer that designs — or is it the other way around? VP of eCommerce at function of beauty, creator of t-shirts, and lover of books.