Are You on The Right Path? These 5 Questions May Help

Are You on The Right Path? These 5 Questions May Help August 10, 2023


the right life path
Lili Popper via Unsplash

When was the last time you did a little self-examination—taken a time-out from life to sit back and evaluate where you are, what you’re currently doing, and where you’re headed? Is your life on the course you envisioned? Or did you at some point take a turn you didn’t plan on? Is the path you’re now on true to who you are or are you headed in the wrong direction?

A few nights ago, I woke up at 3am and began to evaluate where I’m at. My mind was a jumble of thoughts, so I grabbed a pad and pen and began to jot down the things that mattered most to me. I ended up coming up with a list of 5 personal “commitments,” mostly centered around my spiritual and physical well-being and that of my family. These 5 points will now serve as my guiding lights.

But insights about your life path can be fleeting.

For years, I struggled to clearly define what my role was in life, and you may be in the same position. But I recently stumbled upon a list of questions that may help if you’re looking to uncover your path. They come from modern day Renaissance man John Michalak and his book Unto Life: Reflections on Both the Journey and the Destination.

Michalak has been a newspaper columnist for North Carolina’s The Mountaineer, served as a Senior Pastor at a church in Honduras, and for many years ran a prison ministry In Nashville. While serving in that latter job, Michalak developed a list of questions he used to ask inmates, to get them to better know themselves and where they were headed in life.

We might also ask these same questions of ourselves.

Michalak’s original list consists of 8 questions that I’ve narrowed to what I believe are the 5 most pertinent ones. While he often turns to Bible passages to help answer these questions, I’m leaving that aspect out. Instead, I recommend you do some soul searching and look deep within—beyond what the “me” or ego wants to what Jacob Needleman calls the “inner vibration from within the heart” where we might find “the inner God element in ourselves.” AKA the soul.

5 Questions to Help Determine if You’re on the Right Path

Question 1. Who are you?

How do you define yourself? Have you let others define you? You might find the answer isn’t so much about your profession, but your role in life. Are you a person who cares for others, a friend to those who are troubled or less fortunate, someone who brings beauty or joy to those around them? Again, don’t think career, think about what you’re good at—even it’s the ability to put a smile on the face of those you encounter.

Question 2.  Why are you here?

What are you meant to accomplish in the time you have left on this Earth? Michalak points out that while we all need security—shelter, food, health and safety—we also need significance. “We need to feel productive, that we’re making a difference, that there’s a reason we’re here, and that we have a job that needs doing.” The reason you’re here usually has something to do with the positive impact you have on others.

Question 3. What do you want?

“Some of your desires will be healthy and good. Some will be unhealthy and not so good,” says Michalak. Differentiate between the two, and by all means, do no harm. Know that what is healthy and good will almost always have a positive impact that extends beyond yourself. And don’t let society or your ego dictate what you want. Determine what you want at the core of your being.

Question 4. Is there a difference between what you say you want and how you’re living your life?

If that’s the case, how do you bridge the gap and move from point A (how you’re living) to point B (how you want to live)? What steps do you need to take? You might want to write them down and then prioritize them, taking one step at a time until you eventually reach your goal. Think of it as less than a sprint, but a long walk to a pristine destination.

 Question 5. Who are you becoming?

How are you perceived by friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors? Are you growing more spiritually mature as you age? Are you becoming less short-sighted and short tempered and more kind, understanding, and tolerant? Are you gradually becoming a more loving human being? If not, what’s stopping you?

Hopefully, you answered all 5 questions in a way that seemed satisfying. But chances are, there’s a question or two where you may need work or can’t figure out the answer. Michalak points out that “most answers won’t come right away but will come over time as you ask God to reveal them.” So, take it one step at a time. Jot down your thoughts, including any changes you need to make. Refer back to your notes, as a reminder of where you want to be—and where you are headed.

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