Better Questions for Finding Your Life’s Work in the World

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I’ve written about how the common questions are often not helpful in finding a direction. For much of my life I found these kind of questions to be deeply frustrating. I would do my best to answer them, but found that I either could not answer them (because they’re too big) or I wouldn’t know what to do with my answer (it would be too abstract). These questions would leave me feeling more broken and more lost than I was before. After all, they are supposed to be the secret to finding your calling, right? I would be left without answers and feeling like the system that works for everyone else does not work for me for some reason.

If you’ve ever had a similar experience, I’m here to tell you: the easy questions only give you easy answers. Your deeper answers require deeper and better questions.

Parker Palmer, in his amazing little book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (affiliate link), writes: “We find our callings by claiming authentic selfhood, by being who we are, by dwelling in the world… the deepest vocational question is not ‘what ought I to do with my life?’ It is more elemental and demanding ‘Who am I? What is my nature?'” (p. 15)

These more difficult questions are what I want to continually be inviting you to seek to answer. The best question that can lead you toward your work in the world is not “What would you do if you had unlimited resources?” (because you don’t and you never will!), it is “Who are you? Where have you come from? How have you come to be who you are? What are the particular ways that you have known goodness and harm?” Here’s the catch: these are not questions that you can sit down and journal an answer to, but they are questions that can guide you in a process of coming to find what you have to say, give, do, and create in the world, and that process will lead you toward your place of impact.

You have some work to do that is deeply moving. You have something great to offer the world. Deeper and better questions are the way to find it.

(If you would like help asking and answering deeper and better questions, my one-on-one Meaning Sessions do just that).

In the comments, let talk about your questions, what they look like, and what they feel like. Take this chance to share your voice.

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There is 1 Comment On This Post.

  1. oh yes. Those easy queasy questions are seldom as helpful as people who ask them inted them to be, just more confusing. Thanks for stressing this point!

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