One question changed my life: Can I live like this for the next 60 years?
This question came to me after I heard the quote below at a live event in Melbourne.
The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself ― Tony Robbins
My entire world turned upside down. It set me on a new path. My life would never be the same again. I’d learn to question everything. I’d learn to ask better questions rather than rely on excuses that only ever held me back.
Here are a few life-changing questions to help you have your own breakthrough.
Why not me?
It’s easy to see others doing what you would like to do and think it’s impossible. A question that helped me write online is “Why not me?”
If they can do it, why can’t you? What would it take? What sort of person would you have to be? What would your day look like?
The truth is any of us can achieve the same goals as our idols. They’re not immortal or special. They’re just like you. Have coffee with them or meet them backstage after an event and you’ll see what I mean.
We’re all more normal than we’d like to accept.
So if they can do it, why not you? You can do it … if you start somewhere.
What areas of my life suck?
When I asked this question it came down to one thing: mental illness.
“I don’t want to feel like this anymore” was the self-talk. Everything sucked. I’d go to work and get my ass kicked by my boss and my damn brain. Those back-to-back double beatings hurt after so many years. I got clear on what sucked and what had to change.
The key when you write these lists is to capture everything. Don’t judge each area of “suck.” Just write it all down and edit later. Your mind will try to cover up its tracks. Don’t let it.
Once you know what sucks it’s a lot easier to make changes.
What’s one goal you can progress by 1% today?
Change-your-life moments are normally connected to big goals.
The problem with these enormous goals is they appear in our heads as Mt Everests. And who the heck wants to climb Mt Everest on a Saturday morning? Not me.
A few months ago I decided to write another book. It felt overwhelming. I procrastinated on it. One morning I changed my approach. I set myself the task of progressing the book goal by 1% each day. Here’s what it looked like:
- Day 1: Write book title
- Day 2: Write subtitle
- Day 3: Copy headlines from my articles and make them chapter titles
- Day 4: Choose two colors for the front cover
- Day 5: Choose an illustrator for the book cover
- Day 6: Write the first sentence of the book
- Day 7: Finish the intro
- Day 8: Write Chapter 1
- Day 9-14: Write one chapter a day
- Day 15: Write conclusion
- Day 16: Format book
- Day 17: Get an editor on Fiverr to edit it
- Day 18: Get a landing page
- Day 19: Release book via email
- Day 20: Publish book on my blog
See the difference?
1% progress markers are so stupidly simple to execute, you can’t screw it up.
What do you want your life to look like in 5 years?
Many of us don’t believe our lives will look the way they do now in a few years. It’s a common belief.
The challenge is we can fall for lottery thinking. We can hope things will change and leave it up to chance. That form of laziness can cause devastation when you do finally arrive 5 years into the future.
Don’t disappoint your future self.
Who do you want to become? What are your big goals? What would make you proud of yourself in 5 years? Call it a vision board if you will. Or call it getting sh*t done if you’re more like me.
Just don’t wait for things to happen and waste the precious years of your life.
The key is to reverse engineer your life.
Plan your life backwards. Who has done what you want to do already? Do their course if they have one. Buy their book. Follow them on Twitter. Be a detective. Analyze their life.
Take inspiration from those you seek to become. Then you’ll become your own version of their example.
What stories could I share to be more vulnerable?
Stories are magnets for opportunities.
I shared my recent story of tragedy with a guy I met on Twitter. He’s one of the biggest Youtubers on the planet. I didn’t ask for help. I just told him what happened, tears and all (zero sympathy requested).
He decided to intervene and be extremely useful. The help he gave didn’t lead anywhere. Yet showing care is massively underrated. It forms unlikely bonds. Now we’re talking about other ideas. Had I have tried to look like some 6-figure hero that can do no wrong, I doubt we would have ever met or hit it off.
The same happened with James Altucher. I’ve learned he reads my work and follows me. Apparently, he likes that I’m bold enough to be vulnerable. What he doesn’t know is, I learned the subtle art from him.
James taught me to stop living some fake-ass life built on the back of bullsh*t, to impress people who would gladly leave me to drown in front of their eyes if I fell into shark-infested waters.
Share your stories, unfiltered.
What fears are holding me back?
Fear is a son of a b*tch.
I’ve lived in fear most of my life. Then I discovered the power of fear lists. I entered the psychologist’s office for the first time all those years ago with a print out.
“These are all my fears Doc. I tackled the elevator fear yesterday. Next week I go on a plane to tackle that fear. One by one.”
In the closing minutes of my final appointment he said, “I have no doubt you will beat mental illness. You’re one of the smartest people that I’ve ever met. That idea to create a fear list is incredible. Now all you have to do is follow through. I don’t think you’ll need me anymore.”
Now let’s make sure I don’t get ahead of myself. I’m not that smart. But this question really can change your life if you let it. It did for me. Why not you?
Write a fear list. Get clear.
Is this the work I love or am I settling for second best?
I settled for second best for too long.
A monthly paycheck made me feel safe so I warmed the seat to get it, like a rabbit motivated by a carrot stick.
I didn’t love the work though. It made my soul rot. All that fakery became too much. I realized I was settling for second best. So I chose myself and quit.
You can fail at what you don’t want, so you may as well take a chance on doing what you love — Jim Carrey
Who can I inspire?
There are so many Debbie Downers.
Sit back. Eat some popcorn. Watch the sh*t show on Twitter unfold.
The fact is, inspiring others comes with bigger rewards than dishing out demotivation to a bunch of low-lifes.
All of us have the power to inspire. We can take our skills and experiences and make them useful for others. You can choose a target group of people and then go to work.
Watch what happens.
Watch the opportunities it presents. Watch how the people you inspire become part of your DNA. Most importantly, watch how inspiring others adds enormous meaning to your life.
Is everyone in my inner circle making me a better person?
A few years ago I cut off my childhood best friend. This final question is the one that made me do it.
They were bad for me. When life punched me in the face they’d say “let’s get smashed at the pub.” When we’d go out on the weekends, we’d always end up back at some rich snob’s place.
I’d sit on the couch. They’d smoke crack.
They made me feel like crap. I’ve never done drugs, after a bad experience at 16-years-old with a joint that nearly ruined my life. Oh, and my friend in high school that got high and jumped into a river with a kayak during a storm and drowned, right before his debut as a marathon runner at the Olympics.
It’s a hard question to ask. Sometimes you’ve got to let people go until they heal. And if they refuse to heal, then you can’t let them continue to drag you down forever and make you do dumb stuff.
Questions change our lives. They shape our future. They create paradigm shifts. They break patterns. They abolish toxic beliefs. They remove and add people to your life.
Ask better questions to get better answers. That’s how you transform your life.