Are You Asking the Right Question?

I was sitting next to my coworker recently as she was desperately trying to submit an evaluation for a conference she had attended. It was the last day to submit in order to receive the continuing education credits (CEUs) she needed for her license, and the computer was not cooperating. After a few hours of panicked trial and error, she was finally able to submit the evaluation and receive her CEUs. Phew!
Several months earlier, this same coworker had waited until just prior to the deadline to submit the renewal application for her license. Unfortunately, the board never received her application. She did not learn this until the day the license lapsed, which caused an issue at work.
While working through both issues, my coworker repeatedly said something that most of us say on occasion:

“Why does this keep happening to me?!”

The last time she said this, I turned to her and asked, “Can I share something with you that may be helpful?” She said, “Yes.”
I explained to her that I had been listening to a podcast just that morning that talked about the power of asking the right question, with one of the most important questions being “What is the lesson in this?” I said, “Maybe you are asking the wrong question. Instead of asking ‘why does this keep happening to me,’ you may want to ask this question: ‘What is the lesson in this?’”
Her face lit up as she had a moment of clarity. She realized that she kept putting off things that were important to her in order to take care of other people’s business.

She was putting herself last and paying the price time after time.

I recently had a moment of clarity myself. It occurred to me that while it was easy for me to see the pattern in my coworker; it is not so easy for me to identify my own patterns that cause me to ask myself, “Why does this keep happening to me?!” – areas that I could be asking, “What is the lesson in this?”
One thing I have identified is that I often find myself saying “yes” to people or projects that take precious time away from the work and projects that are important to me. I overcommit and wind up feeling overwhelmed and upset at myself for not having the necessary time/energy to do the work that is important to me.
The lesson in this, for me, is that I need to be able to put my priorities at the top and to evaluate closely whether saying “yes” fits in with my priorities and time limitations. It is difficult, because I want to help those around me, to support them in their goals. However, if I help those around me to the detriment of what I want in my life, I am not honoring myself.
I am a work in progress with this lesson. Sometimes I fall into the old trap of overcommitting, but now I know to go back to that important question: What is the lesson in this? I consciously think about the lesson and how I can do better the next time.
What about you? Are you asking yourself, “Why does this always happen to me?!” If so, you may want to start asking yourself, “What is the lesson in this?” and see what happens…


  • This is an article that is full of life’s lessons. Too bad that we learn these lessons later in life rather than earlier. Allowing ourselves to become selfish can be a good thing as we can help more people in need when we first help ourselves.

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