All decisions implicitly ask us one big question – HWMYL? Or How will you measure your life?
I think of HYMYL as that is the short form for Clay Christensen’s excellent book with the same name. The interesting thing about this question is that it is a feature of every decision. It is just less obvious with the small decisions.
For example, deciding how you will spend the next hour or next day doesn’t scream a big life question. But, how we spend our time is and should be a by product of our priorities. What clothes to buy, where to go for a dinner, and what gifts we purchase are all manifestations of our answers to this big question.
When we move to bigger decisions – do we take that big job, do we get married now, do we move to a different place – the decision is just a manifestation of what matters most to us.
2 things make these decisions easier –
1. Have an answer to the HWMYL question. Take a stab at what you think matters to you. A simple approach is to take a trip to the future to your funeral. What are the people saying about you? What would you like them to say? There are more elaborate approaches, too. Just boil it down into a couple of words in prioritized order. I think of mine as “people, learning, and impact” – if it is helpful.
2. Expect to learn more about what matters to you as you make these decisions. Even if you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how you will measure your life, you will often learn a ton from how you make these big decisions. You may find out that some things matters to you a lot more than you thought. That’s important too.
The beauty about the HWMYL question is that the answers may change with time – and that’s okay. As we grow in wisdom, what matters to us might change.
But, the beauty of the question is the fact that it is a question. That is, the answer matters far less than simply asking the question.