What do you long for? What do you care about most deeply?
These are 2 questions I often ask my clients during a coaching session. Granted, getting clear with the client about their goals, outcomes, and standards by which they measure success is very important and necessary, it’s also important to take a look at our client’s dreams, visions, deepest longings and cares.
Underneath every goal that we set or commitment we make, there is a desire to take care of something. We don’t set goals randomly; there are always reasons why we do things. If one of our goals for example, is to spend 30 more minutes of dedicated time with our children every night, we can ask ourselves “For the sake of what, am I wanting to spend more time with my kids?” This kind of questioning leads us to the things we care about. And we can keep asking this question, “For the sake of what?”, until we finally arrive at our deepest cares.
A concrete example.
I had a client who wanted to lose 30 pounds. I asked him “For the sake of what do you want to lose all this weight?”. He said that he wanted to look good and that he wanted all of his clothes to fit. At some point in the session, we also explored the things he could do to shed the weight– we spoke about diet and exercise, but I also noticed that we weren’t getting anywhere and he didn’t look very motivated. And so I told him “Let me ask you that question again– ’For the sake of what do you want to lose all this weight?’– but this time, before you answer, I invite you to take a deep breath and take all the time you need.” It took him a few minutes to reply but then he finally said, “I want to be healthy and well enough to be able to create lifelong memories with my wife and kids.” We were both shocked at the strength of that statement. In that moment, he was able to connect to his deepest care and it sparked a flame of conviction in him that couldn’t easily be extinguished. Slowly but surely he started exerting more effort, showing up daily to exercise, eating right, and getting enough sleep. He eventually saw his weight drop and he was truly gratified as it gave him a better shot at what he desired most—having quality experiences and making lifelong memories with his family.
The power of connecting to our care.
That is the power of being connected to our deepest cares—it instills in us a strong drive to keep going and to not stop until we have taken care of the things that mean the world to us. When we connect to our deepest cares, we are able to access our most persistent, creative and resourceful self. My client was able to think of the most ingenious and fun ways of staying healthy and keeping fit. It was a wonderful thing to witness his transformation.
Brian Little, research professor in psychology in the University of Cambridge talks about how we all have special personal projects in our lives that are based on the things that matter to us most. And that we all have the capacity to act out of personality in order to advance these projects. Take for example someone who is hardwired to be an introvert but knows that it is in becoming an extrovert that will move his/her core project forward, this person WILL bravely act in extroverted ways. So even if it is exhausting to act out of character, we will do it and forge on because we know it will take care of our deepest concerns.
If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it is to have a really good awareness of what’s important and what we could do without. So connect with the things that matter to you most. Write them down on a piece of paper, place it somewhere where you could easily see it on a daily basis. Hold them close to your heart.
We all want to leave this planet far better than however way we found it. Connecting to our deepest cares — whether it’s to raise good children, have a successful business that has a positive impact on the lives of others, or to be the best grandma ever– helps us to live a most meaningful life. It helps us to live out our legacy.