Life is short. Everyone wants to be happy and live a meaningful life. Life is messy and complicated. Sometimes it is hard to say if you’re spending your time right. These 5 questions collected from great leaders help me stay on track:
1. If you had a hard attack and can only work 2 hours a day, what would you do?
This question comes from the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. I love this book. It is partly inspirational, partly crazy. Everyone should read it take the most of it.
I am a CEO of a startup company. I would be able to fill my day with 200 hours productive work, but I only have 24 hours as everyone else. This hypothetical situation helps me pick the most important tasks and do them first.
2. What would you do if money was no object?
This is a title of an amazing 3 minute video by writer Alan Watts. How would you really enjoy spending your life? Students want to be painters, writers, ride horses. But then they say no, let’s do something where I can earn money:
When we finally got down to something, which the individual says he really wants to do, I will say to him, you do that and forget the money, because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way
This is a tough question for me and for everyone. One of things I would do for sure is to continue writing this blog. I do it because I love writing and sharing and I don’t care if I get paid for that or not.
3. If this was my last day, would I be doing what I am about to do today?
This comes from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech, one of the best talks I have seen so far.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.
There is nothing to lose, except the time. It is worth asking the question every day.
4. Would my worries matter in sub-Saharan Africa?
I don’t know who asked this question first. We often worry about a lot of things. The Uber is 5 minutes late. My business is not performing as expected. That pizza tasted awful. I like to ask myself: Would that matter if I lived in a poor village in a sub-Saharan Africa? If yes, it is a real problem. If no, there is a great chance that it is just a “first world problem” and I should reconsider worrying about this.
5. Imagine you’re retired and just sitting on a porch with couple of friends. Would you be happy spending this time with people you spend time with now?
This is called “The Porch Test” and comes from Lilly, a character in How I Met Your Mother. This is a great thing and it works not just for friends, but for colleagues as well. Life is too short to spend it with people you don’t like, even at work.
There is a pattern in all these questions. Only thing that we have is time. We have nothing to lose, except for the time. If you have more questions like this that helps you stay on track, please share it in the comments.