Please do take the time to really consider each question carefully and fully. You will find brief notes on some of the questions below.
Worth and Costs?
You may end up with more – or less – of something that matters to you. If less, include it as a cost in your calculations of the price you pay. Is it worth the price you have to pay? It may cost you in emotional as well as financial and material terms. Remember to consider things like your energy, effort, time, strain and inconvenience for you – and valued 3rd parties [friends, family, colleagues etc.] How would it be if you got what you thought you wanted, only to realise that it is more trouble than it’s worth?
Are all the resources [skills, creativity, energy, capital, relationships etc.] available to you in a timely and acceptable manner?
Beliefs, values and sense of Self.
In this context, consider beliefs as our guiding principles for what we do, influencing all our behaviours, connecting to our value systems and shaping our understanding of why things are possible – or impossible – for us. Beliefs are often assumptions based on our personal experience or “inherited” from others who influence us [family, friends, people we admire etc.]. Beliefs permeate our thoughts, what we say and what we do. Behaviour, what we do, is belief in action.
What if what you want seems to be in conflict with your values and beliefs? Be quite sure that you really own the values and beliefs – you live by them, after all. Adjust them until they are right for you. Only when they are truly yours, use them to guide you in what you want and what you will do.
How will your proposed course of action affect you and your relationships with others [lasting or fleeting, profoundly valued or just necessary]? Your life in context of those around you, in fact.
What would you have to give up or take on?
It is almost certain that something, maybe lots of things, will be different when you get what you want. Perhaps what you have to give up means losing something – maybe something that you are well rid of – or that you regret the loss of. Does it detract from your chosen life style, relationships, and other factors that matter to you?
Perhaps what you have to take on means gaining something you relish – or maybe something you would rather not have.
What would NOT happen?
We have been concentrating a lot on what will happen if you get what you want. It is a good idea to check whether anything has “fallen by the wayside” – what will NOT happen – accidentally or deliberately.
Pay attention to your “gut feeling”.
You know if you have a “gut feeling“, an instinctive sense of some kind – and whether it is warning you against something – or letting you know just how very “right” this is for you. Attend to that “gut feeling”.
What’s stopping me, right now?
What stops me from having what I want, right now? This is a good question to finish with. It will help to ensure that you have considered all the things that matter to you – and may be a catalyst for your subsequent planning and doing!
Now may be a good time to do a quick “future test”. Having addressed the questions, you have a much better sense of quite what you want – and the potential consequences and costs.
Think to the future, for a moment.
In this potential future, when you have got your outcome, you are watching a TV interview with the future you. When the interviewer says to you: “I have a friend who would really like to succeed the way you have done. If they were your friend, what advice would you give them? What really made the difference for you? How did you go about it?” – what would you say?
If you find there are some question marks, just start considering how you might address them to a satisfactory conclusion. If you find that what you want makes good sense to you and your commitment to act is building momentum [or perhaps already there], you may find yourself ready to go ahead.
I do this ‘ecology check’ for various reasons. Different questions are the most thought provoking depending on the circumstances and the matter in hand.
When working on creating a compelling outcome, these are the questions that I use for a reality check. The answers (revelations sometimes) may inspire me to adapt my desired outcome (dramatically or just a tweak). Checking out costs and consequences engages me in analytic thought, creating and testing out the viability of future scenarios and paying attention to my gut feelings. Is achieving my outcome accompanied by acceptable and desirable costs, time-frames, consequences and benefits?
These questions are also invaluable to me at those times when I find myself stalling, reluctant to act, not moving forward with something I thought I really wanted to do. Do you ever find yourself really wanting something while, at the same time, reluctant to act, reluctant to actually do anything, to achieve it? Perhaps you have a sense that “something’s wrong” or a suspicion that, maybe, there is an unacceptable price to pay or undesirable consequences associated with achieving what you want? An ecology check can do harm in these circumstances and could highlight what’s stopping me and then I can deal with that as I see fit.