” The most important thing in life, is knowing the most important thing in life.”
– David Jakielo
Hmm, what do I want? This is probably a question we ask ourselves pretty regularly. Hmm, what do I want for breakfast? What do I want my kids to be when they grow up? Shoot, what do I want to be when I grow up?! It’s a question that covers lots of ground, from the simple to the complex decisions of our lives.
In my life, I have hade to belly up to the difficult decision-making bar more times than I can count. I have no doubt every one of you can completely relate to that. However, there was one point in my life that really tested me, and I want to share.
After Jayson passed away in 2015 my world was a steady stream of steps. Some were forward, some backward, but many were side to side. For my entire adult life at that point, I had made decisions with a partner and now that partner was no longer available to give me feedback, ask questions, or say hell yeah go for it! That silence literally pulled the breath from my lungs giving me moments where I was actually gasping for air.
After weeks of going through the motions, and handling all of the immediate decisions that needed to be made, I knew I needed to start tackling some of our new life decisions. Grief can feel very alone. Regardless of how many people were “around”, I wasn’t on this island by myself, I had two little girls that were looking to me to provide all that they needed. I needed to make a plan. My body and brain were completely consumed by the fatigue, body aches, low energy and memory loss, that grief strangles you with. I literally struggled to remember things that were happening in the same day. The energized, multi-tasking, “right on top of that Rose” Megan was not available for a consult. I had to find a new way to sort out my paths and find direction.
So I pulled out my trusty whiteboard ( I am addicted to whiteboards, and you should know that about me) and I made the most basic list that ended up shifting my mindset forever. I made three columns,
What Do I Need?
What Do I Want?
What Do I NOT Want?
I first tackled my needs list. These were pretty simple, basic, and flowed off the top of my brain with ease. I need x amount of dollars for my monthly expenses ( which led to I need to cut my budget), I need health insurance, I need to be available for the girls, I need to pay for therapy etc.
Next came my wants, and this was difficult. At this time there was very little sparkle left inside of me. Thinking of wants felt like dreaming and that had been temporarily snuffed out. Regardless I attempted my list. I want to feel peaceful, I want to be financially secure, I want the girls to be happy, I want to be surrounded by trees ( uh yah something else I should mention, I love big mature, leafy trees.) I want to be in environments of growth and change etc.
Last came the things that I Don’t Want. This exercise actually made me laugh, as I was astonished at what flowed from my brain to the whiteboard. I don’t want to lose my entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t want a job that requires me to have a badge to enter a building, I don’t want to be required to wear a uniform- particularly not khakis with triple pleats, I don’t want to miss any more soccer games, I don’t want to miss my kids lives, I don’t want to carry any more stress then I have to (I truly lost my ability to metabolize it) and so on.
When I stepped back and looked at my scribblings, I saw a path. Asking myself those questions told me what I needed to do. I knew the things that I had to take care of, and what to keep in mind as I took those steps. Make a living that covers your newly modified budget, and hopefully, you can find one that doesn’t require triple pleat khakis! What I also learned is that regardless of your wants, your needs will always come first. I had to take care of my family’s needs but I could architect it in a way that would make room for my wants once I got a better grasp of things. The needs are also sometimes scary to look at. However, If they will always outweigh the wants then we might as well address them head-on. There is no point in decorating your apartment if you can’t afford to keep the lights on. I know that seems pretty basic and like DUH, but I think we often in life and in work get that backward.
These three questions have continued to guide me both personally and professionally. So maybe if you are feeling a little swirly and unsure what’s next, make a list. What do you need, want, and don’t want? Perhaps there is a next step hiding in there somewhere for you! – Megan