My middle daughter recently moved in with my husband and me. We're helping her save some money and offering support while she's starting up a new business. I'm benefitting as much as she is from this arrangement, as she's thoughtful, open and (as a dancer) very tuned into her body. Our conversations are always enlightening.
Since we're both on an entrepreneurial path at the moment, it's been key for us to find some guiding questions to help in our decision-making processes. And so, as we sort out how to spend our time and where to focus our energies, we're beginning to ask ourselves two things: first, "Can I afford this?" and second, "Will this help me move toward my goal?"
I love these questions. "Can I afford this?" is not just about money. Nor is it only about time. It's about all different sorts of energy that we expend toward any endeavour. "Will this deplete my bank account?" is a good question, but equally important can be "Will this deplete my present emotional stores?" or "Do I have enough physical capacity to attempt this now?" If I'm low on a resource, I need to be thinking of ways to replenish my stock, not moving on into a deficit mode.
There's also the inversion of this question: "Can I afford NOT to do this?" Saying no to opportunities for the wrong reasons will, in the long run, be detrimental. All new ventures require investment. Taking out a loan may put one into the red for a period of time, but not doing so may keep a project dead in the water. It may seem like I don't have time in the day to talk to my spouse, but if my desire is a healthy marriage, I can't afford not to make this investment, even if doing so puts me into a sleep deficit.
The second question, "Will this move me toward my goal?" requires that one has a good sense of what they're about. This may be clearly defined: "I want to establish a flourishing dance school and company" (my daughter's goal), or less defined: "I'd like to be more helpful to people in their journeys toward health and joyfully pursuing their vocations" (my goal). Either way, progress requires a sense of whether our choices are helping us gain the experience, knowledge, contacts, etc. to move us along the pathway to these desires.
As I move beyond my own concerns, I realize that these questions could also be helpful for groups, whether in a marriage, a company, a church, a municipality or even a country. Living out of these questions requires articulating (and agreeing on) where we want to head. No doubt, it gets more complicated the larger the community, but there are a larger pool of resources to draw on, not only to help discern, but also to accomplish these goals.
I need questions. I need ways to reflect and direct. And I need people who live out the questions with me. I can't afford not to.