A life well-lived is different for everyone. Maybe there is a general principle upon which we can agree.
A good life is one in which we make the most of our ability to enjoy and bring joy to others.
But each of us will find our flavour for bringing our talent and love to the world. When honing our very personal definition, there are myriad ways and tools to do this. We have already introduced some.
Perhaps you already have:
- A life canvas that summarises all your life areas and what a well-lived life for each is
- A life vision over the next few years to inspire you to bring that life well-lived into the world.
These tools help you become clear but may not decide where you need to be to do it.
To start the journey, we have the Decision Matrix. But even that might merely be a step towards the final clarity.
Maybe you need more specific questions. 6 Questions to a Decision is just another step – we never know when that final step will occur.
6 Questions to a Decision is part of the overall New Dawn Guide Book available upon request.
It is a Reflection piece with one main objective – to get closer to a decision. It is twinned with a second tool (6 Questions to Commitment) that you can use after you have made your decision.
Play with these questions and have fun. If you are in a relationship, you could complete them together with your partner or separately before bringing them together. The latter can produce surprising insights. Observe the ideas, beliefs and constraints that arise as you discuss the thoughts you write down.
Timebox doing this for 15-30 minutes to see what gut answers come to you. Do not be restricted to the six questions. If you think of others that you should ask yourself, feel free to add them (and let me know!)
Before we jump in, I want you to understand a little about aligned decisions.
If I asked you to answer the question “Stay or Go?” and gave you just one second to answer it, what would your response be?
Try it now.
Which answer comes first? That is your gut answer. It arises from instinct, the part of us that talks a pretty simple language – right or wrong, yes or no, not much nuance but an accurate reflection of our core values and beliefs.
Our gut will decide whether something is right or wrong, that is, whether we should get involved or not. Our second intelligence, our heart, will guide us in the right direction, how we approach it, and the energy and willpower we will bring to it.
The third intelligence is our thinking brain (our head). This rational faculty takes the right idea and makes it a reality. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We practise using it daily. We talk to it while it talks back, often! We are well-versed in finding and solving problems – real and imagined. Occasionally we mistakenly try to use our heads to fix issues of the heart and gut.
I am not saying gut or heart decisions (driven by emotion) are always right. I am merely warning against giving one of them too much weight. We need to align all three sources of intelligence.
To make our best decision, our best chance of success occurs when our gut, head and heart align.
Luckily there is a technique for this. We will tell you after you consider the 6 Questions.
Here are the questions and a little of my experience with them.
Q1: What is important to you in a place that supports your life vision?
To weigh up options, you will likely consider multiple life areas. I use the acronym MARCH to help me remember the key areas of my life. It stands for a mission, awe, relationships, character/contribution and health. Better still, create your acronym for life.
Rather than cloud your thinking with the decision itself, why not ensure that you are clear on what happiness in each area is, regardless of the specific country? This exercise refreshes your life canvas, but with narrower consideration of your surroundings or ideal place.
Q2: What is my gut feeling?
What does my gut tell me?
What does my heart desire?
What does my head say about all this?
Q3: What will I be giving up by STAYING?
Be prepared to miss things if you stay. What do you think you would be giving up? Family, friends and a feeling of belonging? The thought of never knowing? Some, you have already given up – feelings that perhaps do not disappear over time and are reaching a crescendo.
Are you still willing to give them up?
Here are some of the things we felt – rightly or wrongly – we were giving up had we decided to stay in Australia.
– Not knowing: Whether Ireland was an option or could ever be for us
– Our children being Irish and having the same upbringing as ourselves
– Family and friends in Ireland and refreshing those relationships that remained important to us.
Perhaps we should never have bought that house across the road from a nursing home. Occasionally I would glance across and spot people visiting elderly relatives. Morbidly, I might picture myself in that home – slipping away peacefully among family and friends. But here is the thing. That felt mightily far from home. I do not recommend making decisions based on how you may feel during moments toward the end of your life. Yet there was an overriding feeling that to avoid regret. We had to give Ireland a gamble.
Q4: What will I miss if I go?
What you will miss depends from where you are coming. For us, it was Sydney, so the list is too long to list, but it included the outdoor lifestyle, warm sun, hot sand, soothing ocean waves, surf and a laid-back culture. But there were also things we would not miss. And when we write it down, most of it we could recreate in Ireland.
Q5: What will I regret if I stay? What will I regret if I move?
If we stayed, we would regret not giving an idea a go – the chance of another chapter in Ireland. One that excited us and gave us energy, one that we knew would be tough, but regardless of how it ended, we would have no regrets.
If we moved, we might regret uprooting the children and leaving a ridiculous lifestyle behind. The problem is, to admit that, we have to (prematurely) accept that we could not overcome the obstacles to creating a great life in Ireland. We might have been too stubborn to go down that cul-de-sac.
Q6: Am I expecting the move to make me happy in areas where I’m not?
We were happy before we moved. Yes, some things could be better – the distance from home and the frequency with which we could visit family. But we had long learned to live with and thrive in our lives despite those challenges. We did not move to solve problems. We were lucky to return with a sense of possibility and excitement.
The 10-10-10 Technique
You can bring all this together with the 10-10-10 method for aligned decisions. It will help you to tap into both your emotional and rational intelligence.
Start with Decision Option A.
How will you feel ten minutes after making that decision?
How about ten months?
How about ten years?
Imagine yourself having made the decision.
Do you feel lighter or heavier?
Is it an energy gain or an energy drain?
Do you feel more expansive or more closed?
Does it feel like a release or a restriction?
A de-stressor or an increase in stress?
Take a break, and move around before you repeat the exercise with Decision Option B.
When you complete this, maybe the decision will be clear – or maybe not. Either way, do not stress. You might be new to trying this, and the communication channels with your heart and gut may not flow freely. Sit with it awhile. Return to these questions when you feel ready to try again. Often, big life decisions emerge over time.
James Parnell is the founder of A New Dawn in Ireland community and provides online coaching for anyone inspired to change their life.
This article is an excerpt from the book A New Dawn in Ireland. If you would like to be notified when the book is published simply register here.