All of us carry around a number of default assumptions about the world — as well as a number of hopes and beliefs through which we filter our current experiences. Regularly asking ourselves a simple question can help us identify where we might be preventing ourselves from fully understanding what is in front of us. Our blind spots, as it were.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, recently tweeted:
A simple question to spot gaps in your thinking:— James Clear (@JamesClear) July 30, 2019
"What do I want to be true?"
If you're broke, you want the get-rich-quick scheme to be true. If you run a startup, you want the questionable growth metrics to be true.
It's easy to fool yourself when you want to be fooled.
Asking yourself “What do I want to be true?” forces you to explore your assumptions both about the situation at hand and about the way you hope it will be resolved. You might discover, for example, that you want that slightly ambiguous text message from a new romantic interest to mean something more than it actually does — and, let’s be honest, that’s something you probably already knew but weren’t ready to acknowledge.
Which is what this question is really about, after all. Revealing what you’re hiding from yourself, or what you’re neglecting to consider. If you want the get-rich-quick scheme to be true, you’ll rationalise yourself out of every reason why it’s actually a multi-level marketing scheme (or why you’ll be the person who actually makes money from one of those things).
If you instead ask yourself what you want to be true, and then ask yourself what happens if what you want to be true turns out to be false, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions.
So it’s really two questions — “What do I want to be true?” and “What happens if it turns out to be false?” — and they might not always be simple.
They’re still very much worth asking.