Jess: An Unexamined Life

In the age of social media, unlimited access to information at the tip of our fingers, and the flourishing of entrepreneurialship and side hustles, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the “doing.” It took me 3 decades in this body, on this planet (and a good therapist), to realize that I get really wrapped up in the doing, with a primary focus of exceeding what I did the last time. If I achieve “x” today, then I want to achieve “x + 1” tomorrow. If I don’t achieve “x +1” tomorrow, then indeed, I have failed, and ultimately that makes me a failure, right?

I’m great at making a LONG to-do list. These are all of the things I want to do today/ this week/ this year and I must check all of the boxes by the (usually) self imposed deadline. But as I go on in life, who am I being while I’m working through this list and trying to achieve these goals, is becoming a more important question for me. I have a strong aversion going through the motions with no substance behind it. I want to know: how present am I being while doing this? What am I being distracted by? WHY is this important and WHY am I doing it?

Having goals is all fine and dandy, but what is the reason we have these goals? Is it something that we think will make our family happy, like going to law school for your parents? Is it something that we value because the media tells us we should, like go get that “summer body” before June rolls around? (Side note: you have the perfect summer body right now, just as it is). Is it something we want because it was meaningful to us before, and we’re hanging on to it still even though it no longer serves us? Or is it truly in alignment with our values, and something that is meaningful to us?

Reflecting on why we’re doing what we’re doing is so valuable and helps us to understand ourselves better. Do you ever think, “I don’t know why the heck I did that?” If you’re in the “yes” camp, I’m right there with you. But as we continue to examine the reasons that we do what we do, and what is important to us, it helps us to live fully in alignment with our values and what truly matters to us. For some of us, that might be reflecting in the moment, and for others it might be setting aside time to do this after the fact. It may be helpful to write it down, or for some, simply reflecting in the mind. Different things work for different people and there’s no “right” way to reflect, as long as it happens in some form. As Socrates said” An unexamined life is not worth living.”

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