I had this really amazing English teacher in high school. As part of our creative writing class, she asked to find a story that we liked and after ‘The End’ write about what happend. She wanted to know what our thoughts of what happened next were. All fairy tales are beautiful and amazing but what happens after? Do the prince and princess ever get divorced? Do they argue over bills? What exactly does a prince do in his spare time? What does the princess do?
I think we don’t really ever focus on that question in our lives as much as we should.
Often times I think, “If only I could…” and then I dream about things that I could be doing or achieving.
First it was, “If only I could lose some weight…” then it was “If only I could read more…” then it was “If only I could have bigger boobs…”
It was a never-ending list of ‘If only’s’.
My boyfriend slapped me out of my daydreaming fog when he asked, “Okay, and then what?”
I looked at him like he was speaking a foreign language.
Naturally, my response was, “And then I maintain…”
But something else happened instead.
I started to really try to figure out what happens next.
My immediate response was, “And then I’d be happy.”
But I knew that wasn’t it. Really? That’s all it too to be ‘happy’? To achieve this one small goal? Happiness? Forever? Really?
No. There’s more to it.
So, I started asking myself ‘why’.
Gotta love the ‘why’ question.
Why do I think this will make me happy? What grounds am I basing this on? Other people’s answers? Because THEY were happy with it I will be too? Does it really make me happy or does other people knowing I have it make me happy? Is this all for status? What is this really all about?
Clearly it triggered a whole plethora of thoughts that were really quite overwhelming to me.
Then came the big one:
How do you know what will make you happy?
Will losing five pounds REALLY make you happy? You know that you’ll just have to keep maintaining it and let me tell you… sometimes, you just don’t feel like doing it. So then does it not make you happy? Shouldn’t you be happy all the time by it and WANT to do it every single day?
Instead of making statements: “If only…”
Start asking questions: “What happens next?”
Okay. So you lose five pounds. Then what? You buy a pair of skinny jeans? Okay. So then you do that. Then what? You’re five pounds lighter and own skinny jeans. That’s why you went on a diet? To be five pounds lighter and own skinny jeans?
Maybe you think, “Then I’ll feel good about myself.”
And you might. You very well might.
Until you see someone who is ten pounds lighter than you. Then you think, “If only I lost another five more pounds…” Right?
Does a new goal or task arise after this one?
Now that you’ve lost five pounds, you say, “If only I had highlights to go with my new figure.”
Okay. Boom! Highlights. Then what?
Clearly, there is no end. There’s always something more that we want. It never ends. But in order to get it to end (or maybe even never begin) you ask yourself, ‘What will happen next once I get this?’
If I asked that question BEFORE buying the multitude of purses I have… I would probably have more closet space than I do.
I have no need for 22 purses… although I think I do.
But if I only asked myself, “Okay… so, you buy this purse… and then what?”
“I put stuff in it and carry it around.”
“Okay. And then what?”
“What do you mean ‘and then what?’ that’s it! That’s all!”
“So is it really worth $20?”
“Probably not, no. I mean, I’m just going to look cute lugging around my junk.”
“You don’t look cute now?”
“Not with this ugly purse.”
Even reading over that, it sounds completely stupid to buy another purse. I mean, really!
There’s a reason why you want what your after. More importantly, sometimes, you can be wrong. You can buy the purse and within a week, it crumbles because it was a crappy, cheaply made purse. And then what? You’re out $20 on a busted purse and now you need to go buy a new one.
Finding out the source of why you want what you want can really save you a lot of hassle later on. It’s always a risk to chase something that you want and have it turn out to be not what you wanted at all. You might feel like you’ve wasted your time chasing after something that might not make you happy in the end. But, if you wanted it (or thought you did) you can’t regret it the chase. But perhaps asking yourself ‘what happens next’ might give you a better understanding of what it is you’re really after.
So now I ask you, “And then what happens?”