“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~Socrates
An unexamined life can certainly be worth living. Actually, it can probably be quite fun and, to a degree, free of the stress that comes from examining one’s own life. If you’re not examining your life, you’re not worried about whether you’re making progress toward your potential or cultivating and using your gifts and talents wisely.
However, the problem with an unexamined life is that when it is drawing to an end, we may realize, only too late, that the body of work we’ve created with our life is not what we had hoped for, or what we would like to have done with it. At this point, we may determine that if we had it to do over again, we would have paid more attention to where we were going.
I think it’s important to regularly stop and examine our lives. How else do we know if we’re making progress toward the things that are important to us if we don’t stop long enough to assess whether or not we’re on course?
One of the best ways we can do this is to determine where it is we’re trying to go in life, and whether the path we’re on is taking us there. If it is, great! Stay on course and keep checking in with yourself to make sure you’re not straying off course. If you find that you are off course, or have never been on a specific course and are lacking direction, spend some time with paper and pencil (or any medium you prefer to capture thoughts) and ask the following:
- Where do I want to go?
- What do I need to do to get there?
- What’s the next step I can take to start moving in that direction?
Then take that step today!
We could have fun on a journey but be disappointed with the destination if it’s not some place we’d like to be. Examining one’s life is much like consulting a map, or stopping and asking for directions as we travel. It’s how we ensure that we’re on a journey toward a destination we’d like to reach.