Countdown - Day 4 to Intentional

Always Ask Yourself “Why” You Do What You Do

Self-reflection is hard to do because it requires us to think about thinking. It needs us to understand how our thoughts are formed and why we prioritize some over others.

Thinking is such an energy-intensive task that most times we try to avoid it, content to live a zombie life. A study funded by Marks & Spencer showed that up to 96 per cent of people in the UK make decisions on autopilot, avoiding any active thinking and assessment.

Worse still, the study showed the most people find life and living so difficult that they switch into what neuroscientists call “zombie mode” (i.e. living on autopilot) the most when they are at home, environment which feels to them safe and predictable.

I’ve talked about life being difficult by default in my Tracking The Changes series of videos.

The sheer energy it takes to get through each day is not likely to change, nor is life likely to get ‘easier’. As our own circumstances change and our ability to navigate life improves things become different but not necessarily easier.

So, it is understandable that we’d avoid thinking too deeply about our own motives and actions. And we’d seek to avoid reflecting too much on the impact of our choices and decisions. Unfortunately if we are to successfully navigate the complexity of life we need to do exactly what we don’t really like doing: dig deeper inside our self.

The best way to do that is to ask yourself a seemingly simple question and then, keep on asking it with each answer you give. The question is “why” and its role is that of a scalpel. Each time you ask it you get to peel back a thin layer of your own behavior and peer at what lies beneath it. Ask enough times and you begin to get to the fundamentals that drive you. The proviso is that you have to be honest with yourself and that is not a given.

This is the countdown to the release of Intentional: How to Live, Love, Work and Play Meaningfully. You can find a few more details about it here

Each day of the countdown I will release one truth. So here’s the second one:

"If you ask yourself “why” you will have to confront the truth behind what you want and what you do and the choices you made that got you there."