You’re Not Falling Behind in Life: 14 Empowering Questions To Ask Yourself

It’s easy to fall into compare and despair.

The brain sees what others are doing, and it immediately offers:

  • You’re doing it wrong.
  • You’re so far behind.
  • You should have more, do more, or be more.

We tell ourselves “I need to get my act together,” and “I have to keep up.”

But we rarely stop to question these comparisons or if we even want the things we judge ourselves for “missing.”

In episode 133 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we’re challenging this familiar belief that you’re “falling behind,” and creating clarity on what it is you really want.

So if you ever find yourself thinking, “I’m so far behind.” and “I need to keep up.” be sure to listen to the episode above or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:  

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

In This Episode, You Will Discover…

  • How commonly we tell ourselves “I’m so far behind.”
  • Evidence to suggest you’re exactly on track
  • Powerful questions to help you create clarity on what it is that you truly want.

Links From The Podcast

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Episode #133: (Transcript)

You’re listening to the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast with Paula Engebretson episode number 133.

Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. How are you? Today I have a fun episode that I can’t wait to share with you. And I’m particularly excited to share it because it was inspired by so many of you listeners within our busy awesome community. 

So, several weeks ago now – on episode 127 – I revisited the concept of choosing your word of the year. I shared the word I chose, which is “possibility,” and I also explained why I think this exercise of choosing a word for the year can be a powerful approach for us, especially as ADHDers, as we think about the year ahead.

It has a unique way of helping us stay centered because we can intentionally return to the word whenever we’re making decisions or approaching new ideas or areas in our life. We can return to this word – we can ground ourselves in this word – as a reminder of how we want to show up throughout the year ahead.

And what has been so fun is hearing back from several of you. It’s been incredible to hear the words you’ve chosen and learn what’s front and center for you right now. And I went through and reflected on each word – I think there were around 20 or 21 of them – from those of you who either emailed me or sent me a DM on Instagram or shared your word on one of my posts, etc.

You’re Right On Track

And during these exchanges, it’s been fascinating to hear the inspiration behind the words you chose. And additionally, it’s been really eye-opening to hear the wide array of themes that came to the foreground. It really helped to drive home an important message that I think we all need to hear much more often than we do. And that message is this: you’re right on track.

Now, why do I think we need to hear this message more often than we do? Well, first of all, I know how often my own brain loves to think, “you’re doing it wrong. You’re so far behind.” You should be doing it more or differently.” But perhaps more importantly, I hear these same thoughts from my clients and those of you in the community over and over and over. 

You tell me you think you’re approaching it wrong. You’re focused on the wrong thing. You can’t keep up. You’ve fallen off the wagon (even though we know there is no wagon.)  And after those of you shared your words for the year and the meaning behind them with me, it really helped me lean into this idea that none of us are behind. In fact, we’re on the exact right track. 

And I say this because the words and the meaning of the words that you all shared with me span such a wide array of topics and themes. Each of us is embracing and leaning into different areas of our lives right now, and no reason is better than the next. Each person’s inspiration for choosing their particular area was inspiring. And as this idea really locked in for me, it helped me really see how there is no “right way” or “right word.” Rather, there’s what you choose is right for you at this moment. 

You’re Not Behind

We are all doing it right. We’re all on the right track. We’re all moving in the direction that we need right now. And I think that’s so powerful. 

So what I decided to do is group the words that are guiding our busy awesome community together into four separate categories. And in this episode, I’m going to offer some questions to consider and some strategies to apply to each of these different categories in order to help you live more into your theme as much as possible.

Now if you did not choose a word of the year or you did not share your word of the year with me, that is no problem whatsoever. I encourage you to keep listening to this episode. Because again, I saw four overarching themes that really stood out to me. And call it a hunch, but I’m willing to bet that whether or not you’re into the whole “word of the year” thing, you’re probably interested in leaning into one of these four themes. 

So as you listen, whether you chose a word or not, consider the questions and the themes that resonate most with you. And when you find the ones that really click, jot them down. Take some time to reflect on the questions and refer to them often. Because when you do, you help ensure that you are living in alignment with what’s most important to you this season. 

Now like I mentioned, I gathered roughly 20-21ish words from you, and I grouped them into four different categories. I’m going to talk through each category. I’ll share what I see within these themes, and then offer some questions or strategies for you to consider if the theme is an important one for you right now. And as I say this out loud, I realize it might sound a little abstract or confusing. But once we dive in, I think it’ll make more sense. 

Theme One:

So the first group of words that came to the foreground falls into a more open and exploratory category. These words that people shared with me include creative, beautiful, encourage, express and possibility. So again, this is the first category of words leading our busy awesome community: creative, beautiful, encouraged, express, and possibility.

And when I read this first list, I can literally feel the lightness and the joy bubble up inside of me. I get so excited knowing about the beauty that so many of you will create in the world this year. I feel so much hope when I think about those of you within this category who are digging deep inside yourselves and expressing what is true for you. And what’s more, you’re using this creative form of expression to encourage others and be encouraged. There’s so much possibility and hope and opportunity in this first list, and I absolutely love it. 

So if you are living into any of these words or this overarching theme this year. If you are imagining and dreaming and supporting and sharing, then I invite you to play around with the following questions. 

  • First of all, what is true for me right now? What is the truth of what I want? What’s the truth that I haven’t been willing to look at yet or admit to myself? What do I really want to create or express? And am I willing to dig deep and share that truth? 
  • Similarly, what is waiting to be shared? What have I been holding back on? What have I not been expressing? And am I willing to express it? 
  • What are the ideas that I’m eager to share? And how can I encourage myself to do so? How can I create that encouragement for myself to dive in and share? How can I encourage others to do the same?
  • And finally, what is the beauty that I have to offer the world? And how can I share that beauty by tapping into my creativity? 

So if you are living into this lightness and this expansiveness this year, I encourage you to consider those questions. Ask yourself them often and see what comes up.

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Theme Two

Now, the second theme that came to the foreground feels a bit more lasered in compared to the open expansiveness of the first group. And the words within this second group include: proactive, progress, becoming, evolve, decisive, and do it. Again, that’s proactive, progress, becoming, evolve, decisive, and do it. 

And when I read through this list, I felt kind of propelled forward. I don’t know if you feel the same way as I read it now, but there seems to be almost an engine driving this theme forward. Those of you living into these words are creating your progress through proactive actions, decisive actions, you’re evolving into this next level of you as you dive in, and you do the thing. As you dive in, you become more of what you love about who you are. 

And if you are in this season of life. If you are in this laser-focused season, I invite you to explore these next questions to check in on where you’re at.

First of all, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Do I know where I’m going? Do I know in what direction am I headed?” Because if we’re not sure, it’s easy to use up our energy on things that aren’t important. We might use up our energy taking decisive action on things that aren’t moving us toward our end goal. 

It’d be kind of like filling our car with fuel and then driving around making proactive, decisive turns, without any end destination. We’d use up the fuel, but we wouldn’t be using it for anything intentionally. 

So first, get some clarity. Do I know where I’m going? Do I know where this proactive progress is taking me? 

Next ask yourself, “as I go through this process of evolving and becoming more of who I am, what emotions am I willing to feel to get there?” Remember, growth and progress are amazing AND they often feel terrible; they often feel super uncomfortable. 

So ask yourself, “What am I willing to feel as I dive into becoming more of who I am? What am I willing to feel as I dive in and do it? Am I willing to feel fear or restlessness or anxiety or vulnerability? Am I willing to feel worried or doubt? And am I open to experiencing these emotions as I evolve? 

And then finally, if every decision I make could be amazing, which one sounds like the most fun? Am I willing to go all in and make that decision?” Remember there is no right or wrong decision. You get to choose and make your decision, right. This is a decision you get to make. So are you willing to have your own back and do that? 

Theme Three:

Now the third group that really came to the foreground as I reflected on the words focused more on themes of structure, stability, and safety. These members in our community, seem to be leaning in to creating support and locking in the systems and structures that will best help them thrive in their lives. And the words within this category include steady, stability, save, boundaries, and systems. Steady, stability, save, boundaries, and systems. 

And when I think about it, this theme really makes a whole lot of sense right now. It makes a lot of sense that this yearning for stability and structure is coming to the foreground. These last couple of years have been quite a shake-up collectively, on a global level. 

And then on an individual level, it’s really no different. So many of us are craving that sense of stability in our lives and systems that we can rely on. We’re looking for boundaries to promote healthy relationships with ourselves, with other people, and with work. We’re seeking this steady knowing that “we got this.” 

And if you find yourself leaning into the themes of this third group. If you are looking to create a bit more structure and stability for yourself, I first invite you to get really clear on what you want. 

Ask yourself: what do I want more of in my life? And why? What do I want less of in my life, and why? By creating this clarity, it helps you better identify what type of systems and boundaries would best support you. It will help you know what you want to be saving – whether that’s saving money, saving time, saving energy. And it helps you identify what kind of stability you’re seeking. So again, start by checking in with yourself: What are the things I want more of and what do I want less of?

And then, I encourage you to ask yourself, what is working really well? Where do I already have these results in my life that I’m seeking? Where do I already have stability or systems that support me? And how can I learn from these situations and implement what’s working in one area into another?

So often, we focus on the struggles and challenges we’re facing. We focus on the places where we feel stuck. And I want to offer that there’s so much wisdom available to us when we zoom in on what’s currently working. 

If you have a system that works really well at home for keeping things organized, what can you learn from this that you can apply to your work life?  If you have one relationship that’s really thriving, how can you apply what’s working well in that relationship to another relationship that you want to strengthen? 

So again, if you find yourself in category three, I encourage you to give yourself space to reflect on what’s going well. And then ask yourself, “how can I apply this information to these other areas in my life” 

And then finally, I encourage you to ask yourself, what feels like love for me and everyone involved in this situation? Sometimes when we’re in this category of structure, systems, boundaries, and stability, we can get sucked into the rigidity of it all. We get wrapped up in black and white thinking, totally focused on the rules we think we should follow. 

Sometimes we go overboard and think we need to do everything perfectly by the book. We must get it all “right.” But what I’ve found is that when this happens, it’s often because we chose some arbitrary rules for ourselves – or we adopted the beliefs from some outside societal programming – and we don’t even like the rules we’ve chosen. And so we’re following these rules that we don’t even like, and should-ing ourselves when we don’t stick to them. 

So as you think about building your systems or boundaries or ways of saving, I encourage you to do so from a place of love. As you think about creating steadiness and stability, think about it through the lens of love for yourself. Because when you’re creating these boundaries and systems intentionally from a place of love, it feels so much better to stick with them for the long run, because they’re in alignment with you and your values.

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Theme Four

And finally, the last group that really stood out to me falls largely into the category of trust. So these words include pause, ease, kindness, and letting go. So again, when I read through these words, the theme that stands out to me is all about trusting the process. It’s about letting go of control and letting things be easy. 

We don’t have to overcomplicate everything. We don’t have to make everything harder than it needs to be, which is something so many of us love to do. Instead, we’re being kind to ourselves. We’re being gentle with ourselves throughout the process as we learn to lean into trust and have faith and belief in the idea that “everything is rigged in my favor.” 

We’re slowing down. We’re pausing to notice what’s going on and to build our awareness of happening around us. And we’re willing to let go of the brain’s agenda of how things “should be.” Instead, we’re open to trusting that it’s all happening right on time. 

So if this is your focus this season. If you are leaning into trusting the process, to slowing down and pausing. If you’re allowing more ease in your life and challenging yourself to let go, then I encourage you to ask yourself: “when do I notice myself arguing with reality?” When am I telling myself, “things shouldn’t be this way?” Or “I should be more of this.” And “they shouldn’t be so much that.” And as you find the answers to these questions, I encourage you to ask yourself, “how might the opposite be true?” 

If you’re thinking yourself, “it shouldn’t take so long to do this thing.” How is the opposite true? Why should it take exactly as long as it is taking? How can you pause and lean back? How might you let go of the brain’s agenda and trust that it’s happening exactly on time?

I also encourage you to explore the question: “Where is it most challenging for me to pause? “Where is it most challenging for me to practice ease and letting go?” And “how can I be kind to myself when it getting to this place is more of a struggle?” “What would it look like to trust the process?” “How might I show up differently if I paused? If I let things be easy? If I was kind to myself throughout the process and I let go of my expectations of how things should be?  What might that look like?” Then paint that picture for yourself. That way, you can lean into this vision anytime you notice yourself arguing with reality and return to your theme for the year. 

So as you can hear with these four different categories, you probably notice that we have a very wide array of themes leading our community. And all of them are exactly right. They’re all powerful and meaningful and leading to lives and experiences filled with intention.

And I think this is one more beautiful reminder that we are all on our own paths. And we all know exactly what we need. You’re not behind. You’re not doing the wrong thing. You are doing exactly what you need because you’re learning to listen to you. 

And that’s what we’re all about here. We are all about learning how to listen to and work with your brain. We’re here to learn to create the support and the opportunities and the steadiness and the stability that you need so that you can evolve and become more of the incredible human that you are. 

Alright, my friends, that’s going to do it for us this week. And if you’re ready to take the concepts you’ve learned on the podcast and apply them to your life. If you’re ready to learn how to support your ADHD and work with your brain to take things to the next level, head over to where you can learn more about how we can work together to make that happen.

Also, if you know someone who’d love this episode would you be a rockstar and share it with them? Each time you do, you help me get these tools to even more people, and I really appreciate it.

Until next time, keep being awesome. I’ll talk with you soon.

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