Posts in Self-improvement

3 Questions to Improve Your Everyday Life

The quality of questions you’re asking yourself determines the quality of your life.

You may not be aware of it, but you’re asking yourself hundreds if not thousands of questions every single day. Most of them direct our intentions, focus, and energy.

Questions can open our minds or close them. They can lead our energy toward positive ideas or help us to form negative, limiting beliefs.

Today, I want to share my three favorite questions with you that I ask myself multiple times a day. Questions that improved my focus, productivity, and quality of everyday life.

The first question helps me catch myself when I’d go astray and do easy things that don’t matter instead of focusing on what’s important.

Every time I start working on something, I ask myself:

1. Is this essential?

Remember that time when you knew you should be doing that one thing that actually mattered and moved the needle, like launching that ad campaign, making that phone call, or signing that client. Still, instead, you’d be “productively” procrastinating by researching, thinking about the best ways to do that thing, or creating dashboards in Notion. It’s okay; we’ve all been there.

The question “Is this essential?” gives you clarity, saves time, and makes it easier to achieve your end goal.

The second question I like to ask first thing in the morning, and it works as a reminder throughout the day.

2. What’s the most important thing for the day?

The concept comes from Peter Thiel – co-founder of PayPal, Palantir, Founders Fund, and one of the most interesting people alive.

At PayPal, he’d give everyone a single thing to focus on, only one problem to solve.

Most people tend to procrastinate on the most important and very difficult to solve A+ problems and work on B+ problems instead. So I ask myself, “what’s the one thing on my endless to-do list, that if I accomplished it today, would make the entire day a success?“.

Then I’d focus only on that thing until it’s done. And if after that I have time to tackle the second most important thing – great, I’d do that, and if not – the day is still a success, and I’d feel great about it.

The third question is all about peace of mind.

How often do you catch yourself thinking about some offhand comment that someone has made about you or your work? Going on and on in your mind about the fight that you’ve had with your friend or coworker? Or just getting angry about a canceled flight or a traffic jam?

Whenever I find myself in that downward spiral, I ask a simple question:

3. How am I going to feel about this in 15 minutes? 15 days? 15 years?

Answering this question helps me to almost immediately let go of what seemed to be an important problem that occupied all of my headspace just a second ago. And it works 100% of the time.

You’re not even going to remember that missed flight in 15 years, let alone care about it, so what’s the point of getting all worked up about it now?

Asking yourself helpful questions is great, but how do you remember to do that?

I’m a big fan of sticky notes, and I have a few of them with these questions, along with a few reminders around my workspace. So I’d actually see the questions multiple times a day without the need of reminding myself to ask them. You could also create a wallpaper for your phone or even a browser extension asking you a question whenever you open a new tab. That’d work just as well.

These questions gave me an entirely new perspective not just on my day but on my life, and I hope they’ll help you too.

What are some of your favorite questions that you ask yourself regularly? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Excitement, Passion, and Disgust

How often do we find ourselves in a perpetual quest to discover something that excites us, something that we are passionate about?

The curious thing is that you can make yourself get excited about virtually anything. Once you realize that, the concept of “passion” becomes arbitrary.

The more excited you are about something -> the easier it is to learn about -> the easier it is to do -> the better you are at it -> the more excited you are about it. It’s a self-reinforcing loop.

By that logic, it is possible to use the excitement to get boring and tedious stuff done.

Don’t want to do taxes? Get excited about taxes. Don’t want to do the chores? Get excited about the chores.

The easiest way to get excited about a subject that you want to work on, chores, or habits you want to form is to over celebrate every time you do them.

Do boring stuff -> over celebrate it to get dopamine rush -> feel good about doing boring stuff -> get excited about doing it again.
That’s where the first loop kicks in if you’re using it to get excited about something you want to work on.

You can easily reverse this concept and use it to break bad habits.

If you want to break a bad habit or stop consuming something – sugar, coffee, alcohol, etc. – simply change your perception of it. Where the head goes, the body follows, and our perceptions precede actions.

We don’t do something that we don’t enjoy, let alone something that disgusts us. Let’s say spiders disgust you. You wouldn’t pet one every day or even enjoy looking at it, would you? Yet, what is this feeling of disgust towards spiders if not a simple matter of perception about them in your mind? After all, they are not that different from many other living creatures that we feel indifferent or even affectionate about.

If you can feel disgusted towards spiders, you can cultivate the same feeling towards anything else, including your bad habits.

One way to do that is by first learning about your bad habit’s negative effects and then vividly picturing those horrible effects every time you repeat that habit. Do that enough times, and these vivid images will begin to associate with the product/action, changing your perception. For example, when I stopped eating processed sugar, I’d anchored the image of clogged arteries to any product that contained it. Now, I don’t see a donut, but a clogged artery, making it difficult for me to want to eat it.

If it’s difficult for you to play with imagination, the other way is deliberate overconsumption. You could buy five chocolate bars, a couple of cakes, a pint of ice cream, a bottle of soda, and eat them all at once. You’d feel absolutely horrible afterward, which is perfect. Anchor that feeling, write it down in vivid detail, play it in your head, hammer it into your head. Then recall this feeling any time you’d have a sugar craving. Don’t eat sugar? Great. This method works for any other bad habit, just as well.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of how our minds and behavior can be shaped in almost any way we want. If there are any thoughts, believes, actions, or habits that are impossible to change, I have yet to find them.

7 days without social media

I just had a week of “no social media policy.”

No Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter/Reddit/any messenger/etc. Any related app has been deleted from my iPhone, either.

And it was probably the most productive week in the past few months!

Instead of thinking of some article I’ve just read or deciding on what picture I should post on Instagram, my mind was able to concentrate on what truly matters.

I’ve finally launched a few of those projects I’ve wanted to test for a while, read two great books, given just enough time to practice Spanish, journaled without any time constraints, the list goes on and on.

But probably the greatest part of this “don’t disturb mode” was that every time I’ve picked up my phone to check Instagram or to meaninglessly scroll Facebook feed, I’d open Anki app and practice Spanish vocabulary instead, simply because that phone checking habit was still in place, but those time consuming apps weren’t.

As a result, today, when I’m finally “allowed” to get back and post some stuff, I just don’t want to.

And it feels great.