Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A simple, one-word question

This post is about a simple one-word question that has the potential to change your life. It's already changed mine. That question is, "When?"

How many of you have ever said to yourself or someone else something like, "We should go camping sometime. Let's get together with so and so someday. Want to go to Hawaii sometime? I'd love to learn to paint someday."

If you are anything like my husband and I, we have a lot of dreams and goals and things we want to do. Until recently we found ourselves expressing a lot of wishes, but not actually doing anything.

Then we discovered the power of asking the question, "When?" We had gone on a hike and ran into a friend. We talked about getting together sometime and then he said, "When?" We replied, "Maybe sometime next week?" He then said, "Well, I was thinking about tomorrow." We were slightly surprised because that is not usually how a conversation like this goes. We thought through our schedule and the next day worked, so we went and enjoyed a wonderful hike. 

That experience got us thinking about the importance of choosing a specific time to do something. It seems that our culture seems to follow the mindset that our schedules control us and that we can't choose between the activities we want to do. We decided we wanted to take more charge of choosing our schedule, and it's been great!

Our conversations changed from, "We should go camping sometime." "Yeah, that would be fun," to "We should go camping sometime," "Okay, when?" "How about next weekend?"

By asking the question, "when?" we gave ourselves the opportunity to choose a time to actually plan and do what we wanted. It's liberating to choose how we spend our time and to do things together we've been wanting to do for a while.

We went camping. My husband is starting martial arts. I'm actually writing this post. :)

An important part of this one-word question is also how you answer it. You can't answer it with "later", "sometime tomorrow" or "in a little bit." Unless you decide on a concrete time, you'll likely get distracted with other little things, and it won't happen. Instead, you could answer, "this afternoon", "after I get home from work", "when my son takes his nap", or "next weekend."

The power of the question "When?" doesn't apply only to large goals or trips. It also works for day to day tasks.

As a mom working from home, I find myself getting overwhelmed with trying to find balance and plan my day. I've found it's almost impossible to schedule my day hour by hour the way I used to in college because with a family my schedule is unpredictable. I'm not the only one involved in my day anymore. So instead of planning out what I'm going to do at exactly what time, I keep track of things I'd like to do and then ask myself when I'm going to do them as they come up.

For example, I remembered I've been wanting to write a blog post for a few weeks. I asked myself, "Well, when am I going to do it? How about now?" And voila, here I am. :)

This may seem like a simple thing, but I believe there is a lot of power in deciding when we are going to do things instead of just leaving it up to fate. We can't control everything, but we do have choices. Don't forget that. I've already noticed a difference in the amount of things I get done during the day. I waste less time on social media, and I'm not as frustrated at the end of the day because I actually did a few things.

Now, I still don't get everything done, and there are still trips and activities we haven't planned. We're still practicing, but it's making a difference. So next time you think of something fun you'd like to do or a friend you'd like to call, ask yourself "When?" and then do it.

Remember there are seven days in a week and "someday" isn't one of them. Get out there. Follow a dream. Go to Europe. Take dance lessons.

Don't let your somedays turn into nevers because you didn't think to ask a simple, one-word question.

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