We stand at a precipice.
Now, more than ever, people are disillusioned and dissatisfied with the systems and structures of the societies that they are in. The Millennial generation, now approaching ‘adulting’ age, is the first generation to fully bear this burden.
There is rampant confusion, profound misunderstanding, burdened by the weight of student loans and suffering the paradox of choice. When everything is an option, how can you possibly make an effective decision?
What we need are questions that will cut through this noise.
Questions that bring us directly to the signal that will help us orient ourselves. Fortunately, these questions exist. Even better, there are only 3 that matter right now.
If you want to create meaning, to thrive instead of survive, to reach towards life and look forward to the future, there are only 3 questions you must ask yourself.
But first, a stipulation.
You must give these questions deep, structured thought. The answer to these questions will ripple out and shape every aspect of your life, career, relationships, and inner experience. The quality of the rest of your life quite literally rests on your answers to these questions.
We have spent so much of our lives answering questions that other people ask us — “write this essay, solve this problem, increase my ROI, etc.,” — we have given our time, attention, and energy to so many other people that we have forgotten to solve the most fundamental questions in our own lives.
It’s time for that to change.
It’s time for us to think deeply about our own lives, and intentionally design the lives that we want to live.
These questions will take you there. Consider them deeply, come up with your best answer based on your present experience and available information, and commit to implementing them in your life.
Do this, and I promise your life will look much more like you hope in a year, 6 months, and even tomorrow.
Question 1: “What are you doing?”
This is the kicker.
You could also phrase this as ‘What do you want to do? But keep this anchored in the present tense, it will be more useful to get a good assessment of where you’re at right now and make a plan for moving forward.
Many of us are unsatisfied because what we’re presently doing is in massive discrepancy with what we want to be doing. Conversely, many of us suffer because we think we’re living the life we want, but our reality doesn’t match.
We must be able to see, very clearly, what we are doing. How we conduct ourselves on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. Track your time. Watch your thoughts, actions, and reactions. See how you truly are on a daily basis.
What do you do for work? What do you do outside of work? How do you relax? How do you spend time? Do you exercise? What kind of exercise do you do? How long do you commute?
What you do with your life becomes your life.
Read that again.
Your life is made up of moments, in each moment you choose to, or choose not to, do something. If you want to take control of your life, you must take control of what you are doing in your life. Your life is in your actions, not in your thoughts.
Assess what you’re doing now.
Think deeply on what you want to be doing.
Question 2: “Who Are You With?”
Humans are social creatures.
You cannot separate yourself from this truth. The people you are with shape and influence your life in important and dramatic ways. Do not underestimate the power of your relationships and the influence that they have on you.
Jordan Peterson gives a brilliant example of this. Say you argue with your partner for half an hour every day. That’s 3.5 hours a week. 14 hours a month. 168 hours a year.
That’s 4 straight 9-5 work weeks per year, doing nothing but arguing about petty bullshit with your partner.
A full month — from 9am to 5pm — doing nothing else other than arguing with your partner. Do you see how heavily this influences what you do and the quality of your life?
What would you do with a full working month of hours if you were calm, alert, content, and focused? You could radically change your life with that kind of time.
The inverse is also true: imagine that you had all that time with someone who was pushing you to grow, who made you feel amazing, who lifted you up and helped you pursue your dreams?
We used the example of an intimate partner to drive the point home — but this example applies to friends, acquaintances, co-workers, family — every single one of your social interactions and relationships influences and impacts the quality of your life.
Do you want to spend all your time being the smartest person in the room, praised by people with no motivation? Or do you want to surround yourself with impeccable individuals, who push you to be more and accomplish everything you have inside of you?
The right people open doors.
They open doors in the real world, and they open doors in your inner world.
Be incredibly discerning about the relationships in your life.
It is far better to have very few relationships that are all adding significant value to your life than to have many relationships that are empty, draining, or downright harmful.
No relationship is worth suffering for.
Do not waste your time here.
Pursue solely the good and the pure. Cultivating these relationships will take work, action, and consistent effort, but it will pay off down the road. This is the the rest of your life, and the quality of it that we’re talking about here.
Spend a significant amount of time considering who you are with, and if that is serving you.
Discard anything that does not serve you.
Question 3: “Where do you live?”
If we define a city as any location with over 150,000 residents — there are 4, 416 cities in the world.
What on Earth makes you assume that the random city you happened to be born into is the one best suited for your life?
This is the most neglected area of our lives.
Many of us tend to think of what we are doing. We give less, but some thought to who we are with. But we give little to no thought about where we live.
But you see, where we live influences the first two questions. If you want to work at a rapidly growing, early stage tech startup, you could try to find one in your city — but you’ll probably do best relocating to San Francisco.
The place you live directly influences the people you can be with, and the things you can do.
Maybe you’re someone who prioritizes living in nature. Forested areas. And yet you were born in Toronto, New York, or London. Big cities. Urban jungles.
Why spend your days complaining about the fact that there’s no green areas around you expect for poorly planned parks?
Pack up. Move out. This is the rest of your life. Your one single and beautiful life. Do not spend more time than necessary living in places you don’t want to. The secret here is that you rarely have to spend any time in a place you don’t like.
Work. Save up. Move out.
Ask Often, Think Deeply
These are the questions you need to answer for yourself.
Do not accept the answers that your culture has given you, for it is not living your life. Only you can come to the answers that are suited for you.
This is not to say that these answers will not change over time. In fact, they should change over time, because you will change. Different stages of life call for different environments, contexts, and circumstances.
But you must check in with yourself right now — and think about these questions deeply. Make sure that these answers are as close to your ideal as you can manage right now. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t play it small. It is all out there and it is possible for you.
Each of these questions is important, but each question overlaps with the others. These must be taken as a whole perspective on your life – for you do not exist in isolation.
You are a complete whole, and your life must be taken as such.
What are you doing, with which people, in what location? These all come together to form a Gestalt, where the sum is greater than the individual parts. Each component builds off of the others and adds to the experience and power of the other questions.
Do not concern yourself with other questions.
Take the time to think deeply and meditate on what your true, authentic, present answer is to these questions. Notice how your answers differ from where you’re at in this moment, and begin to take action to make the ideal match up with the real.
Don’t give up. Do not waver.
These are the most important questions that millennials and any young individuals can ask themselves.