10 questions on leaving the convent

I came out of a convent last month. Actually I was only in there for three days in total. I go there (Ballyvaloo) every year to think and pray and plan a little (I keep going back because the nuns are so kind to me). When I’m there I ask myself questions – just like a coach would do. I thought you might find these ten questions useful too – so here they are:

NUMBER TEN In secondary school what did you dream of becoming as an adult?

As it happens, just a few days ago I was moving old books around in my study and I found my diary from 1965 – so now I know the answer to this question. It sobers me.

NUMBER NINE. As you review your life, what noble cause have you championed?

There are certainly causes I have been worked up about – but which of them is noble? That should be the principle worthy of on-going attention.

NUMBER EIGHT. What do you never seem to have time to do?

It could be that you don’thave time because it’s a silly little side-interest. But if you keep grieving its loss maybe you’re being convicted to adjust your priorities.

NUMBER SEVEN. What training (formal or informal) is available in the big thing that captures your interest?

Nobody ever said you have to stop learning. It would be odd if there’s no way you could be trained further in your heart-felt hobby-horse.

NUMBER SIX. You suddenly come alive when you do some things – what are they?

Is there anything you can do all day long and not get tired? That’s a big pointer to the way God has hard-wired you.

NUMBER FIVE. What major set-back brought out the best in you?

When I was 21 I had all kinds of ideas about what I could do. They say that life’s a marathon but it looks awfully like an obstacle race. Each obstacle which you negotiate may cost you one of your many ideas but it will also reinforce and strengthen those things you know you will never drop.

 NUMBER FOUR. Is there someone you could shadow or assist for a while who has the same passion as you?

Are you the only one? Unless you’re Einstein surely somebody, somewhere has the same driving instinct.

NUMBER THREE. Is it worth the risk to work mostly on things that will make a great deal of difference if you succeed?

Can you see through the latest swirl of your circumstances clearly enough to put your finger on those few things that would make a great deal of difference? Once you can see them write them down and tell someone else – otherwise you might doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.

NUMBER TWO. What would need to change if you were to spend 80% of your time on your one big passion?

You know, and I know, that upping the working time you spend on the Big Thing to 80% is a not just a change in thinking but a change in your daily habits. Psychologists say that it takes 40 days to change a habit. But go easy on yourself – start with one determinative thing that you can change sustainably.

…and the big NUMBER ONE What were you born to do?

If you don’t already know the answer ask yourself if anyone has ever said to you, ‘You were born to do this”? What was that?

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