15 Life-Changing Questions to Ask Yourself Today (and 9 Bonus Questions)
Like Socrates said many years ago, the unexamined life is not worth living. In order to unlock your full potential and achieve your greatest dreams, you need to take a step back and examine the kind of life you are living.
In this article, we take a look at 24 life-changing questions that will help you to objectively put your life under a microscope.
The answers to these questions will change your life, help you determine whether your life is headed in the right direction, give new meaning to your life, help you tap your hidden potential and open you up to new experiences.
Below are the 24 questions you need to ask yourself today.
1. WHERE DO I WANT TO BE IN THE NEXT ONE, FIVE OR TEN YEARS?
While it is impossible to predict where your life will be a year, or five years down the line, it is important to have a plan of where you want to be in that time. Asking yourself this question allows you to set goals about what you want to achieve in your life.
Without goals, you will be like a ship that is adrift in the ocean without a destination. Any direction seems like the right destination. The problem is, when you sail without a destination, being tossed by the waves, you are more likely to get wrecked on a rocky island that find yourself in a great port.
Having clear goals allows you to concentrate your efforts on activities that move you forward in life. Your goals give you the motivation you need to create the best life for yourself. Having goals also means that you have a lighthouse to guide your life. Goals help you align your decisions with your desired life and notice when you are going adrift.
Actually, goal setting is so important that, according to this Harvard Business study, those who set goals are twice more likely to succeed than those without goals, and those with written goals and a plan are 10 times more likely to succeed than those without goals.
Asking yourself this question will prompt you to decide what you want to achieve in your life. Your answer to this question should encompass all areas of life. Don’t just focus on your career or material achievements.
You should have goals for your career, your financial wellbeing, education, family, health, pleasure, and so on.
2. WHERE WILL MY LIFE BE IN ONE, FIVE OR TEN YEARS IF I CONTINUE DOING WHAT I AM DOING TODAY?
Fortunately, many of us already have visions of where we want to be in future, whether that is the next one year, the next 5 years or the next 10 years.
Even if you did not have one, hopefully the first question has got you thinking about where you want your life to be in future. Unfortunately, many of us spend time doing things that do not help us move closer to our goals.
Remember, your future life is dependent on the things you do today. You cannot live the life of your dreams in future if you spend your life today doing average things. If your dream is to be fit within the next one year, you will not get there if you keep eating junk foods and avoiding the gym.
Asking yourself this question helps you identify the things in your life today that are wasting your time. It helps you identify things that you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
Most importantly, it helps you stop procrastinating the important things that you know you need to do. If your dream is to be financially stable, asking yourself this question will spur you to start taking action towards securing your financial future, today. If your aim is to be fit, you need to start exercising and eating healthy, today.
If there are people who are holding you back from going for your dreams, you need to cut them off, today. Otherwise, if you keep doing the kind of things you have been doing before, you will continue living the same kind of life you have been living before.
Like Einstein once said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
3. WHAT IS MY WHY?
This question is important because it helps you identify why you are going after your dreams. If one of your goals is to lose some weight, why exactly do you want to lose weight? If your dream is to become CEO at your organization, why do you want it? What will becoming CEO do for you? Do you want it because of the associated status, or because the CEO salary will allow you to give your family a better life? Your “why” is a deep-seated reason behind your goals.
Without knowing the “why” behind your goals, dreams and aspirations, you minimize your chances of achieving your goals. The truth is, achieving your goals is not going to be easy. You will face challenges that will make you feel like quitting. Without a clear picture of why you are going for that goal, it becomes easy to quit when the tough gets going.
However, a clear “why” gives you purpose and motivates you to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. Knowing your why also helps you make the tough decisions concerning your goals. A strong enough why will give you the fortitude to figure out the “what” and the “how” of achieving your dreams.
4. WHAT AM I GRATEFUL FOR?
In this life, we are constantly trying to make more money, achieve more and improve ourselves that we often take for granted what we have going for us at the moment. However, it is important to take a step back and be grateful for what we have.
Being grateful does not mean that we should get complacent and stop trying to improve our lives. Instead, it means that we should count our blessings and appreciate the kind of lives we have today. You might feel that your car is old and you need a new one.
However, you should appreciate the fact that you have a car, since there is someone struggling to raise money for a bicycle.
Gratitude is one of the keys to a truly happy life. Actually, research shows people who practice gratitude tend to have better confidence, better sleep and better moods. Being grateful will also lower your chances of experiencing stress and anxiety.
Asking yourself this question will give you a dose of optimism and make you realize that your life is not as bad as you think it is.
Think you don’t have anything to be grateful for? How about your good health, a roof over your head, food to eat, a happy family? These are all things you should be grateful for.
Before you start worrying about a new car, a bigger house or a better job, take a moment to be grateful for the car, the house or the job you have now.
5. WHAT ARE MY VALUES, AND AM I BEING TRUE TO THEM?
In this life, it is important to have values that guide you. Unfortunately, many of us never take a moment to identify what our values are. Values are your personal set of beliefs and ethical principles that guide your behavior and decisions.
Your values are the essence of who you are.
They help you determine what is important to you and help you determine between right and wrong. Asking yourself this question helps you to analyze what is important to you and what you stand for.
Why are values important? Values provide you with a framework for making the right decisions even in cases where the decisions might result in conflict. They help you know who you are and are the basis on which you develop your opinions on important things.
Values help you clear excess clutter from your life. They help you identify things that are important to you and allow you to let go of things that are not important. Finally, having values increases your confidence and provides you with a stable foundation for your life. Once you know what you stand for in life, you are less likely to be swayed by the opinions of others.
6. DO I WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK?
Human beings are social creatures, and the need to be accepted by others is a normal part of being human. This explains why each of us feels the need to act according to societal expectations.
However, sometimes this need to get accepted by others can become so great to the extent that it starts affecting our lives.
Worrying too much about what others will think about you, your behavior, you decisions and so on and trying to do what everyone expects of you can hinder your ability to think for yourself and make your own decisions. Instead of making your decisions based on what you want for yourself, your decisions will be based on what you think others consider to be right.
Unfortunately, you can never truly predict what others will think of you, and therefore trying to please others is an exercise in futility. It is better to do make your own decisions without concerning yourself with what others will think of you.
Asking yourself this question will help you determine if you are doing things because you think they are the right thing to do or because you are afraid of being judged.
7. WHAT DO I WANT PEOPLE TO SAY ABOUT ME AT MY FUNERAL?
Thinking about your own death is not a very pleasant exercise. However, death also has a way of helping us identify the most important things in our lives. The truth is that everyone will die, including you. What would you want people to say about you during your funeral? Would you rather they talk about the expensive car you drove and your big mansion, or about how you made them feel? Would you want your children to talk about how great a dad you were, or how you they never saw you because you were always in the office?
Asking yourself this question will make you realize that there is more to life than chasing material things. Building good relationships with people and having a great character is what will matter in the end. People are going to remember you for how you made them feel, for living a life of love and kindness.
No one will miss you once you are gone because you were the richest person in the family, or because you had a private jet. Asking yourself this question reminds you that you should not focus on pursuing success and riches at the expense of relationships and good character.
8. WHAT WOULD I DO IF I WASN’T AFRAID OF ANYTHING?
This is a question that only few people contemplate, yet it can have a very profound impact on your life. Many of us go through life timidly, with fear holding us back from going for what we truly want.
You keep your feelings to yourself because you are afraid you will be rejected by your crush. You stay at a dead end job because you are afraid you will fail if you quit to start your business. What if you were not afraid? How much would you achieve? What exactly would you do if failure was not in the picture?
Pondering on this question helps you to identify the things that truly matter to you. The answers to this question are the things you should step up and do. In most cases, the fears holding you back are usually irrational, and you can easily overcome them.
If your fear is keeping you from moving from your home town, go ahead and do it. If your fear is keeping you from trying your hand at being a singer, go ahead and give it a try. In the end, when your life is nearing its end, you won’t care about the things that you tried and failed at.
Instead, you will regret the opportunities you missed due to fear. Do not let your fears hold you back. Instead, face your fears and your life will become limitless.
9. WHAT WOULD I DO IF TODAY WAS MY LAST DAY?
Imagine that today was your last day on earth. Would you spend it mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or watching useless programs on TV? Not likely. Instead, you’d probably meet up with that friend you have been meaning to meet up with, spend time with your family, or go for that one adventure you have been postponing your entire life.
If there is a person you always had feelings for, you would probably go ahead and tell them. You wouldn’t care about rejection because, well, you only have a few hours to live, and you’ll go knowing that you made your feelings known.
The truth is, no one knows when they’ll die. This means that today could very well be your last day on earth. Why waste it doing useless things? Considering that this could be your last day will make you stop procrastinating on things that matter to you. You’ve always wanted to visit the Seychelles? Why not do it now, who knows whether you’ll be alive next year.
There’s more to life than working to pay bills and taxes. If today was your last day on earth, I doubt that you would wake up and head over to the office. Instead, you would do something that you have always wanted to do. I’m not saying that you should skip work today, but you should find time to do the things that you have always wanted to.
You might put off doing something because you think you don’t have time today, only to find yourself at 70 years without having ever done it.
Don’t put living your life to some day in the future when the future is not assured. Instead, live your wildest life today, because today is the only moment that you are assured of.
10. WHY NOT?
From when we were kids, we have been brainwashed by society that we need to follow the rules and live a certain way. That we need to fit in, keep our heads down and play it safe.
However, following this path often leads to an average life. Sometimes, you need to go beyond the confines of tradition and stop playing it safe.
Don’t just accept everything as it is. If someone tells you that something cannot be done, ask them why not. If someone says that you cannot achieve your dreams, ask yourself why not?
Don’t accept the limitations people put on you. Instead, you should challenge the status quo and go for what others think is impossible.
If you look at some of the greatest people to have lived, most of them have looked at things that that seemed undoable and asked themselves “why not?”
11. IS MY SOCIAL CIRCLE INFLUENCING MY LIFE POSITIVELY?
Like Jim Rohn once said, you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. The circle of friends you keep around you influences your mindset, your behavior and your habits. Want to be successful? Hang out with successful people. Want to be confident? Hang out with confident people. Want to be happy?
Hang out with happy people.
There’s even scientific evidence behind this. According to this study published in Psychology Today, people with low self-control can improve their self-control by surrounding themselves with strong willed friends.
Asking yourself this question allows you to evaluate the social circle you surround yourself with. Are they people that challenge and encourage you to be a better version of yourself? Are they people that are dragging you down with negativity and mediocrity? Letting go of your friends can be a hard thing to do.
However, if you want to achieve your fullest potential, it is important to surround yourself with people who share the same dreams with you, people who challenge you.
If you are constantly surrounded by people who have no aspirations, you will eventually become complacent in your life because that is the normal kind of life in your social circle.
However, if everyone in your circle is constantly working to better themselves, you will be challenged to better yourself if you want to remain within the same circle.
12. AM I LIVING A LIFESTYLE THAT PROMOTES PHYSICAL, MENTAL AND SPIRITUAL WELLBEING?
To enjoy life to the fullest, you should live a lifestyle that enhances your health and wellbeing. However, when many of us think about health and wellbeing, we only think about the physical part of it.
A healthy lifestyle should focus not only on your physical wellbeing, but also your mental and spiritual wellbeing.
According to many ancient cultures, the body, the mind and the soul are interconnected, with each one affecting the others. This means that it is impossible to have overall wellbeing when one of these elements is not healthy.
Asking yourself this question allows you to make choices that allow you to live a healthy life and enables to channel your focus to your mental and spiritual wellbeing, two elements of wellness that are often neglected. Good nutrition and exercise will take care of your physical wellbeing.
Reading and educating yourself continually will take care of your mental wellbeing, while things like religion and meditation will help you take care of your spiritual wellbeing. The important thing here is that your overall wellbeing depends on the three elements. Don’t focus on one and neglect the others.
13. AM I GIVING THE PEOPLE I VALUE MOST ENOUGH TIME?
Many times, we focus on the challenges of modern life that we forget how important it is to spend some quality time with the people we value most – our family and friends.
You should never be too busy for people who love and care for you. In the end, they are the only ones who matter. You might get laid off your job, the money and cars might go, but your family and friends will always have your back no matter what happens.
In addition to always having a circle of support, family and friends are also good for your happiness. People who spend more quality time with people they value tend to have higher levels of happiness. Spending time with friends and family even has a bigger impact on happiness than an increase in income.
14. DO I CARE MORE ABOUT HOW MY LIFE LOOKS OR HOW IT FEELS?
Today’s society is fueled by marketing and extreme consumerism. In a world where first impressions matter a lot, people see the car you drive or the clothes you wear and not your character or integrity.
Having the right image determines the kind of friends you will get, the relationships will get into and the kind of jobs and business deals you will get. Matters have been made worse by social media, where people are all about showing off how their lives seemingly are. This has led to a situation where most people are more focused on living a life that looks good, even if all this is a façade.
Today, keeping up with the Joneses has become a way of life. People are taking loans to buy houses and cars with the aim of looking successful.
According to a survey by the Country Financial Security Index, more than half of the respondents spend more than their income occasionally, while 21% spend more in a month than they earn in the same month for more than sixth months every year. Most of this expenditure goes towards buying material things with the aim of impressing others.
While doing this might boost your image, it will have adverse effects on your life. Spending beyond your means to impress the masses can lead to a life of debt.
Apart from setting you up for a life debt, living a life where you care more about how your life looks can lead to lack of joy and contentment. Instead of being appreciative of what you have, you will be more focused on getting more so that you can improve your image.
Since you are so focused on getting bigger toys to maintain your image, you end up spending most of your time at work, which in turn also strains your relationships with family. You end up becoming distant to your spouse and miss seeing your kids growing up. Is this the kind of life you want?
Asking yourself if you care more about how your life looks or how it feels will help remind you that living a fake life to impress others is a walk down a treacherous path. It’s better to be rich and look poor than to look rich and be poor.
15. WHAT WILL BE MY BIGGEST REGRET IF I WERE TO DIE TOMORROW?
If you know you are going to die tomorrow, you most probably won’t care about where you lived, how much money you made or how many properties you had. Most likely, you will regret working so hard while neglecting your family.
You will regret letting fear hold your life back. You will regret living the life others expected of you instead of charting your own path. You will regret not going after your dreams. Asking yourself this question gives you a sober reminder of what you should be doing with your life today.
If you know the things you are going to regret when you are lying on your deathbed, why not do them today to avoid going out with regrets when the time comes?
BONUS QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TODAY
Below are some additional life questions to ask yourself to figure out what to do with your life.
16. HAVE I DONE SOMETHING NICE TO ANOTHER PERSON TODAY?
A good life is one that is spent in service of others. Every day, you should aim to do at least one nice thing to another person. However, this doesn’t have to be something big. Even a small thing, such as buying a cup of morning coffee for your colleague, allowing someone to take your spot on a queue, or even buying lunch for a homeless kid can make a huge difference to their day. As a bonus, engaging in such acts of kindness every day will make your life happier.
17. AM I WHO I WANT TO BE?
Everyone has a vision of the kind of person they want to be. This is the true you. Unfortunately, most people are not the people they actually want to be. Therefore, it is important to regularly ask yourself if you are the person you want to be. If not, what is keeping you from being that person, and what can you do to get closer to being that kind of person? Answering these questions will allow you to be the person you are truly meant to be.
18. WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST MISTAKES I HAVE MADE IN MY LIFE?
Everyone makes some pretty huge mistakes in life, unless you are living a fairly “safe” life without ever attempting anything meaningful. However, when you make mistakes, don’t leave it at that. Instead, examine these mistakes to identify what lessons you can learn from them. This helps strengthen your character, prevents you from repeating the mistakes, and ultimately helps you grow.
19. AM I HAPPY WITH MY JOB?
One of the things that makes people miserable is realizing that they are in a job they don’t love, and not having the guts to make a career change. To prevent this, it is important to regularly ask yourself if you are happy with your career. If the answer to this question is no, then you need to figure out what you need to do, whether that is looking for another job, completely changing your career, or going back to school to acquire new skills. Finally, once you figure out what you need to do, you should follow through with it. Don’t spend years saying you need to change your job, without ever doing anything about it.
20. DO I HAVE SOME MONEY SET ASIDE FOR EMERGENCIES?
The thing about emergencies is that you never know when they will come, and if you are not prepared, they can easily ruin your life entirely. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you always have some money saved up for a rainy day.
21. ARE YOU INVESTING IN THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS?
Humans are social beings, and regardless of how much wealth and success you might attain in life, it is impossible to be truly happy in life if you do not have good relationships with the people you care about. Therefore, even as you focus on pursuing your other goals, such as wealth, success in your career, and so on, don’t forget to invest in creating deep and meaningful relationships with people close to you, or people you care about.
22. HOW MUCH MONEY AM I WASTING EACH MONTH ON MEANINGLESS THINGS
Sometimes, you might find it hard to achieve your financial decisions, not because you are not making enough, but because you are wasting a lot of your money on things you do not need. Therefore, it is a good idea to routinely examine your expenditure and see where your money is going. The best way to do this is to keep a record of everything you spend your money on for a few months, and then go through these records and try to determine if there are some meaningless things taking large chunks of your money. For instance, you might realize that you are spending over $200 each month eating out. This might not look like much, but if you were to do away with this cost and opt for home-cooked meals, you would save close to $3600 every year. This is money that you can save and use to invest.
23. AM I HAPPY?
Happiness is one of the most important goals in life, yet most of us do not even actively do anything to ensure our happiness. We do things just because we were told that’s what we need to do – go to school, graduate, get a job, start a family, buy a home, and so on – without even taking a moment to ask ourselves if we are happy with how our lives are going. We wake up every day and go to jobs we hate simply because we were told having a job is the most important thing. Eventually, we get to the end of our lives and realize that we missed out on life because we were so focused on doing what we were “supposed” to do.
To avoid this, it is very important to regularly ask yourself if you are happy with your life. If your answer is no, then you need to find out why you are not happy with your life, and what you can do about it. Is it because you hate your job? Then find another. You don’t like where you live? Move to another place or city. Are you unhappy because you are in a miserable relationship? Break it off. Don’t just put up with something that makes your life miserable simply because you were conditioned to believe that is what you are supposed to do.
24. WILL THIS MATTER IN FIVE YEARS?
Very often, we do not get to enjoy life because we are too stressed over something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Sure, being cut off by someone in traffic is frustrating, but is it really worth getting worked up for the whole day? Will you even remember the incident in a few weeks’ time? Your spouse might have delayed you in the morning, causing you to miss your flight to visit your parents, but will this really matter five years down the line? After all, you can just catch the next flight. The point here is that very often, we go about life full of negative emotions because of things that are way too irrelevant or insignificant. Therefore, if you find yourself worrying or stressing over something, ask yourself if it will matter in five years from now. If it won’t, there is no point in obsessing over it.
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