Most of us waste an extraordinary amount of time on situations and relationships that don’t nurture or fulfill us.
Below are 10 questions that can help you reevaluate where you are in your life right now, where you want to be, and how you can go about getting from A to B.
The sooner you ask yourself these questions, the less time you’ll waste and the faster you’ll start to live more authentically.
1. Am I willing to trade my precious time for money?
Many of us have been raised with the idea that the more money we make, the better.
We’ve been taught that money allows us to live a more fulfilling lifestyle because it allows us to buy more, bigger, or better things.
Furthermore, there’s the idea that idle hands make mischief, or that unless we’re constantly doing something productive (e.g. making money), then we’re somehow wasting time.
When you think about your living expenses, would you say that you have them covered with enough to spare each month?
If so, you could likely ease up on your work output to focus on things you actually want to do, rather than work obligations.
What would you do with extra free time?
Would you be creative with different art forms? Read more books? Spend more time with your loved ones?
Ask yourself this: what would serve you better? Spending all your time working, or paying others to work for you so you have time to spend the way you want to?
Extra reading: 16 Things Money Can’t Buy You (That Can All Be Had For Free)
2. Am I living a life that aligns with my values and beliefs?
If you ever get a strong feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re saying or doing things that aren’t authentically you, it may be a sign that you’re out of sync with who you truly are.
This is a perfect opportunity to reacquaint yourself with your true values and beliefs.
This can be frustrating if you don’t know how to go about realigning yourself. For instance, you may have no solid idea as to who you really are, let alone who you want to be or where you want to go.
This is where soul-searching introspection comes into play.
Start by asking yourself what your values and beliefs are, thereby looking for and exploring that which truly resonates with you.
Just make sure that you’re answering sincerely rather than going for the easiest or loudest option.
Additionally, be wary about asking others their opinions. You may end up having to deal with those who actively try to push you into a particular ideology and then get hostile if you decline to take part.
3. What are my biggest fears and how are they holding me back?
What do you feel are your biggest fears in life?
Are you afraid of rejection? Failure? Death?
Many people find themselves paralyzed by various fears, which in turn hold them back from experiencing some truly amazing things in life.
Consider enormous, powerful elephants who won’t try to escape their uncomfortable enclosure because it’s corded off by a simple, flimsy string. That string tells them that they aren’t allowed to cross that threshold, even though they could attain their freedom with the slightest push against it.
The flimsy string is like your fear.
The fears that paralyze most people seem insurmountable at first, but if you can gather up enough courage to get closer and confront these issues directly, you’ll find they’re nowhere near as scary as they first seemed.
They’re just wispy little strings that you can push through with minimal effort, into the freedom and joy offered beyond.
Extra reading: 5 Tips To Help You Stop Living In Fear
4. Am I living in the present moment or constantly worrying about the future or dwelling on the past?
Have you ever gotten physically hurt before? I have, and it was awful. In fact, I have pretty intense scars on my body from injuries that I sustained in horrific ways.
The thing is, those injuries happened a long time ago. I’m not bleeding from them anymore, so there’s no point in going on about the pain they caused. The hurt is gone, and all that’s left is the pale memory of the experience.
Similarly, considering how often I work with sharp implements and power tools, I will undoubtedly get hurt again in the future. But I’m not hurt yet, so there’s no point in putting bandages and casts on skin that isn’t torn or bones that aren’t broken.
When you place all your attention on either past events or those that haven’t happened yet, you’re not living your life right here and now.
You’re essentially forfeiting the gift that every moment brings, wasting it on old memories or potentially unfounded future happenings.
Think of it this way: you’ll get no nourishment from the memory of past meals or the hope of future ones. You’ll simply gnash your teeth on empty air.
5. What kind of relationships do I have in my life and are they healthy and fulfilling?
Take a look at the relationships you have with other people in your life.
When you think about spending time with them, do you feel happy about the idea of hanging out with them? Or are you bracing yourself for how they’re going to deplete or disrespect you?
Here are some questions to ask about every relationship you have:
- Can you honestly say that you trust this person?
- Is there a balance of give and take in this relationship?
- Do you feel respected and valued by this person?
- Is this person worthy of your respect?
- Do you feel emotionally safe and supported with this person?
- Do they make you a priority in their life, or are you more of an afterthought?
- Does the relationship feel like more of a joy than an obligation?
If there are more negative answers than positive ones, then it’s time to reevaluate your relationships.
We can choose how much time we spend with those who drain us. If most of your relationships are unhealthy and unfulfilling, make it a priority to either counterbalance them with partnerships that are more joyful and supportive, or end them for the sake of self-preservation.
6. What kind of person do I want to be and am I actively working toward becoming that person?
When you think about the people you respect and admire most—past and present—do you feel that you bear any resemblance to them?
In simplest terms, are you living a life that’s aligned with the traits you admire in others?
And furthermore, if you were to meet these heroes of yours, would they admire you in turn? Or be disappointed in you?
Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you like what you see. This goes beyond physical traits, especially those that you’ll never be able to change.
Rather, it’s what you see in your eyes and your posture. What is your soul saying to you when you meet your own gaze?
If you aren’t happy with the person you see before you, ask yourself why not.
Are you not living authentically or with purpose? Are you disappointed in your achievements?
If so, are you taking action to rectify this so you can be proud of yourself? Or are you actively choosing to keep disappointing yourself for the sake of comfort and convenience, or due to a fear of potential failure?
Extra reading: 10 Tips For Figuring Out What Kind Of Person You Want To Be
7. Am I living a life that brings me joy and fulfillment or am I just going through the motions?
There’s a Sufi hadith (saying) that suggests that individuals “die before they die.”
This refers to the idea of contemplating death frequently, including considering everything that would happen if they were to die unexpectedly.
This is a great way to promote awakening and refocus a person on what’s really important in their life.
If you were to die now, what would you regret not doing?
Are there things you would wish you had said to others while you still had the chance?
Would you have chosen to spend your life in a way that brought you more joy?
When you think about your daily tasks, ask yourself whether you’re feeling joy and fulfillment in what you’re doing, or if you’re phoning it in and going about your tasks like an automaton, willing them to be over with so you can go back to bed and forget existence for a little while.
If you aren’t experiencing joy in your day-to-day life, consider prioritizing it instead of setting it aside as an unattainable luxury.
Focus on the things that you’re passionate about and make them a reality while you still have time to do so.
8. Am I taking responsibility for my own happiness and success or am I relying on others to make me happy?
When you’re having a bad day, do you turn to the people around you to make you feel better? Or do you take the initiative to improve your state of mind?
Similarly, if you’re feeling disappointed or resentful about where you’re at in life, do you blame other people for holding you back or not offering you enough opportunities?
Everyone we encounter is going to have some type of influence on our lives, but on a fundamental level, our happiness and fulfillment are our own responsibility—not anyone else’s.
If you find that you’re constantly relying on other people to make you feel better when you’re down, or to give you opportunities instead of seeking them out for yourself, those are good signs that it’s time to become more self-reliant.
Small children depend on their parents to fulfill these types of needs, but adults need to be autonomous individuals who take measurable action for their own fulfillment.
No person is an island, and we do need one another for a number of different reasons, but you need to learn how to take the wheel and not be a passenger in your own life.
9. Am I living in a way that’s attuned to my life’s purpose?
Are you already familiar with your life’s purpose? If not, that’s okay—as long as you’re still drawing breath, you have time to figure it out.
When you live a life that’s attuned to what you feel is your sacred purpose, you dedicate a specific amount of time and energy to something that you feel is greater than yourself.
Maybe you want to devote whatever time you have left to helping those less fortunate than you are.
Or you want to compose a symphony as your magnum opus, gifting the world with an extraordinary piece of music that will entertain and inspire millions.
Every day is an opportunity to realign yourself with pursuits that are truly important to you.
If you find that you’re trudging through your days meaninglessly and wishing that you had more time to devote to pursuits and causes that actually matter to you, then you should probably sort yourself out in that regard as soon as possible.
Extra reading: 11 Examples Of Life Purpose Statements That You Could Adopt
10. What legacy do I want to leave behind?
Years ago, my partner was working at a glamorous job that she loathed but that paid her well and allowed her the opportunity to travel extensively.
After being asked this question, she took a solid look at her life and determined that everything she was doing was empty and would make no lasting impact on the world after she was gone.
This epiphany caused her to completely shift direction in her career. She went back to school, got certified in permaculture garden design and herbal medicine, and has since spent years teaching others how to grow their own food and heal their own bodies.
When you think about your life and all the things that are important to you, do you feel that you’re leaving behind a legacy that will benefit others?
Are you doing anything of note that you’ll be remembered for? Or leaving valuable resources to your offspring as an inheritance?
If not, think about where you are now and what kind of legacy you’d like to leave.
If you aren’t already taking action to leave something amazing behind after you go, consider changing direction.
This way, you’ll leave your little corner of the world in slightly better shape than how you found it, and perhaps even be remembered fondly for your beneficent actions.
Extra reading: 9 Ways You Can Leave A Positive Lasting Legacy Behind