Revisiting the Map

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A sense of direction, purpose, and identity. Most would agree that these are factors contributing to a fulfilling life. At some point most of us have also experienced the anxiety or depression that accompanies a loss of these.

As we attend to the daily concerns of life, we experience the satisfaction and positive emotions that come with caring for family, making progress toward work, financial and health goals etc. At the same time, the immediacy of these concerns can sometimes take almost all of our focus, distracting us from parts of ourselves that may have been buried under the daily routine.

To bring balance, it’s important that we check in with ourselves from time to time to ensure that we are moving forward with internal integration, an awareness of who we are and where we want to go. 

A simple exercise for doing this involves making two lists. 

For list one, make a list of the top ten things you desire most in your life. For this exercise, let your internal editor (or critic) take a break. Just write down what you would really like to experience in your life. The list could include seemingly unrealistic desires, such as acquiring a superpower or purchasing something extraordinarily expensive. The list could also include some daily activities that you already enjoy, such as spending time with your dog or cat. The value of this exercise is that it helps bring into focus those desires/interests that are most important to you. 

For the second list, make a top ten list of big picture, long term goals. A good question to get this list started is “at the end of my life, what do I want people to remember me for?”  While there may be some overlap with the first list, this list may be more influenced by deep convictions, lessons learned through challenging experiences, a focus on spirituality, a focus on justice or care for others.

Take a look at both lists. What is highlighted to you? Are there any parts of your identity that have been unattended to for awhile?  Is there a small step you could take toward re-engaging a neglected desire, value or goal?

By taking these steps, you give yourself the opportunity to become more fully integrated, experiencing greater clarity and energy as your internal map begins to come back into focus.

~Adam Mollhagen, MA, LLC