written by LOU BLASER

A version of this essay first appeared in Midlife Cues, a weekly newsletter about intentional living in our middle years. Get it in your inbox; you're going to love it.


In 2019, I attended a workshop that changed my world.

No exaggeration.

The facilitator asked a head-scratcher question.

“What do you want more of in your life?”

I was stumped.

I honestly didn’t know what I truly wanted more of in my life.

I came up with lame, surface-level answers just to get through the dang workshop, but that question stayed with me for a long time.

What followed that workshop were months of asking the question repeatedly, listening for my own answers, and turning the answers this way and that.

“Is this really true?” I asked myself more than once.

In hindsight, being stuck at home during the pandemic facilitated this deep analysis.

What else was I going to do? Especially as I wasn’t baking any sourdough. 😉

That pivotal question — and the answers that came — changed the trajectory of my life.

I made decisions that were markedly different from what I might have chosen otherwise.

Today, I feel as sure as I can be that the bow of this ship is positioned to sail in the right direction.


The specific answers I came up with aren’t as important as the process I went through.

There were three simple things I know for sure that made all the difference:

  • I allowed myself to ask the difficult question.
  • I waited for the answers to bubble up instead of getting impatient (as I usually am) and jumping for and into the first answers.
  • When I understood my answers, I ensured that my subsequent decisions and choices aligned with them.


  • “Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave. This is critically important—because we all have a few things that we think and say we value, but we never back them up with our actions. […] Many of us state values we wish we had as a way to cover up the values we actually have. In this way, aspiration can often become another form of avoidance. Instead of facing who we really are, we lose ourselves in who we wish to become.” Personal Values: How to Know Who You Really Are
  • “We size up circles we drew as a kid and attempt to fit them into the squares of the reality of adulthood, until one day we ‘give up’ and simply succumb to our present circumstances and call it fate.” The author suggests the question we ought to ask – and continue asking – ourselves is, “Who or what do you want to grow into?” And since growth is a never-ending process, we can expect our answers to this question to evolve in our lifetime. How to Use Design Thinking to Design Your Life
  • It’s easy to fall into thinking that decisions have right and wrong answers. In reality, every decision is partly right and partly wrong. The “rightness” of a decision depends on personal context and we’re always optimizing for whatever is most important to us right now. “We’re all optimizing for something, whether or not we’ve made a conscious decision to do so.” What are you optimizing for?


“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… The most important thing is to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” — Steve Jobs


Meet Gen X’er Shannon Paris

Three things bring Shannon the most joy these days: music, animals, and nature.

“Making music with friends is where I find spiritual communion, where I connect with the sublime, where my aches and pains are miraculously relieved without effort, and my neurological pathways are refreshed and cleansed.

Animals and nature reset my nervous system, and in their presence, I can sink fully into the moment. I am in awe of nature’s beauty, cleverness, and endless variety.”

Here’s a quick profile of Shannon.


Crisp fall mornings. That’s one thing I want to have more of in my life. 😊

Walking in the cool early October mornings is just perfect for re-arranging thoughts and clarifying intentions.

Don’t you think?

Cool Beans,
Lou Blaser


A former management consultant and IT leader, Lou Blaser is the editor of Midlife Cues and the host of the Second Breaks podcast. She is also the author of Break Free: The Courage to Reinvent Yourself and Your career. Lou’s work is focused on exploring how to navigate, thrive, and turn midlife into the best phase in our life.