A Decade Wiser

Here’s this week’s Quality Question:

Imagine a version of yourself from 10 years from now traveled back in time to give you some advice. What do you think “future you” would tell you?

Quality Questions make it easy to apply the key lessons from the best self improvement books and talks to your life.

100% FREE. No credit card required. Unsubscribe anytime.


Pulling your trigger

We may not like to admit it, but we all have times when we react badly.

Someone, maybe even a loved one, says or does something that “triggers” us. Our higher cognitive functions go offline and we react from a place of hurt. In this mode, we often say and do things that we later regret.

We can’t control what other people say and do to us, but we can learn to improve our reactions. These Quality Questions will help you do that.

To start, think about a time when you were triggered, and see if you can remember what you felt in your body and how you reacted.

What happens in your body when you get triggered?

  • Does your heart start beating faster?
  • Do you feel tightness in your throat or chest?
  • Do you start to raise your voice?

What happens next?

  • Do you attack the other person?
  • Do you become defensive?
  • Do you make snarky, passive-aggressive comments?
  • Or maybe you disengage and run away?

Becoming more aware and learning to identify the signals in your body that indicate you have been triggered is the first step to improving your response.


Living at the edge

We’ve spent the last few weeks asking questions to help you explore the edges of your comfort zone in your work, your love life, and your spiritual path.

These are difficult questions.

Answering these questions forces us to admit that we have fears, and that our fears are holding us back from being and achieving all that we desire.

If you missed or shied away from any of the three questions, take a few minutes now to go back and answer it.

You can also ask a friend to help you. Close friends can often see the fears that we don’t let ourselves see.

Now that you’ve spent some time with these questions, pick one area and ask yourself:

What is one thing I can focus on for the next month to play at my edge?

Playing at the edge of our ability and comfort evokes a feeling of flow and helps us gain a sense of meaning and satisfaction in life.

The goal is not to get anywhere in particular (we will always have an edge we are unwilling to cross), but to recognize that the most satisfying way to live life is to constantly play with your edge and express the best version of yourself you can in the world.


Finding the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

You’ve probably heard the saying, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

But how are we supposed to find the edges of our comfort zones so that we can push past them?

That’s what we’re going to focus on for the next few weeks of Quality Questions, starting right now.

The first thing you should know is that the fence around your comfort zone is fear.

It’s also helpful to recognize that you probably don’t have one single comfort zone. Instead, you have varying levels of comfort in different areas of life (relationships, work, spirituality, etc).

Let’s start with work. Ask yourself:

If you were truly fearless, what would you be doing to make a living?

What if you knew that you couldn’t fail?

And you weren’t worried about what anyone else would say.

Imagine if you could wave a magic wand and instantly change your reality.

What would you do then?

Think deeply about a means of making money that would make you feel fully alive.

Maybe your career would be more creative?

Perhaps you would commit to a global cause that you care about?

Maybe you would finally start the company you’ve been dreaming of?

Write down what a career without fear looks like and use that as a guide to the direction you should lean in your future choices.


Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Most of us spend huge amounts of time and energy worrying about the areas where our knowledge, skills, and abilities are lacking.

We look at a job ad and our eyes jump straight to the part of the job description that we don’t know how to do.

We’re acutely aware of the various ways we don’t measure up to some ideal — in our personal, social, and professional lives.

As a result, we live in a state of perpetual imposter syndrome. Always feeling like we’re not quite measuring up, because there is some aspect of life that we haven’t yet mastered.

In doing so, we often overlook our own growth. We forget all the things we have learned and the ways we have progressed.

This week’s question is a way for you to break that cycle.

Ask yourself: What used to be hard for me, but now is easy?

Think about your work, as well as your personal life — relationships, social situations, habits, health, etc. and make a list.

What skills have you mastered, obstacles overcome, or confidence have you attained?

Give yourself credit for all that you have already learned and done. 🎉

Then carry that feeling forward — there will always be new things to learn and try for the first time, but you should feel confident, because you’ve mastered new skills before.


Begin Again

It’s that time of year…

The middle of February.

Which means that, if you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions are fading out of sight in the rearview mirror as you go back to life as usual.

We’ve all experienced this at one time or another.

You start a new habit like going to the gym, eating healthy, or writing 200 words per day. And then, something happens.

You slip. You miss a day, maybe two. You start to lose faith.

And then that little voice in your head starts talking:

“I failed again. I’m never gonna be able to do this.”

Maybe you even give up on the thing you know you should be doing.

Whenever this happens, just ask yourself:

How can I begin again?

That simple question can unlock many new paths, for example…

You can begin again with a simpler habit (try 1 minute of meditation instead of 10).

You can begin again by letting go of self-judgment (forgive yourself and just start writing again).

You can begin again by reminding yourself why you set this goal in the first place. Write a list of why this habit or goal matters and post it on the wall.

You can begin again by taking a lesson from your first attempt and applying it to your next attempt (going forward, I’ll have a friend meet me at the gym so we can keep each other accountable).

Don’t wait for another new year.

Every day you get the opportunity to begin again.


Choosing Not to See

Last week we sent a Quality Question inspired by Ryan Holiday’s best-selling book, The Obstacle is the Way.

Ryan takes timeless principles from the ancient Stoic philosophers and makes them accessible and relevant to our modern lives.

In this YouTube video, Ryan shares 12 great questions inspired by Stoicism, including this one:

What am I missing by choosing to worry or be afraid?

We all have limited focus, time, and energy. It’s up to us to choose how we spend it.

If we choose to spend our precious time and energy feeling anxious and worrying, then we must know, it comes at a cost.

In other words, worrying and feeling anxious are not just unpleasant emotions. They are actively destructive.

We can’t control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we spend our energy and where we focus our thoughts.

If there’s something that you’re worried about or that’s making you feel anxious, ask yourself: What am I choosing not to see right now?


How Tim Ferriss Deals with Fear

Last week we sent a Quality Question about using fear to help us identify our most meaningful goals.

But even after learning to “lean in” when we feel fear, sometimes our fears can still sabotage our attempts to achieve our goals.

To combat this we’re going to do something Tim Ferriss calls Fear Setting.

Think about one of your goals that scares you and ask yourself: What am I worried about if I try this?

Write down any fears that come to mind, no matter how big, small, or crazy they might seem. The objective is to get them all out of your head and into writing. Don’t hold back.

Do this now.

For example, say my goal is to save $5,000 towards retirement this year, but I’m afraid that the stock market could crash any day, so I never take action and start saving.

Next, look at the first fear you just wrote and answer the following questions:

How likely is it that this will happen and what would be the impact if it did?

Continuing the example: The worst U.S. stock market crash was on “Black Monday” in 1987. The market went down 23% in a single day. That could happen again. But losing 23% is not the same as the market going to zero, which is probably not going to happen. A worst-case scenario might be that the market suddenly loses 50% of its value. And this is pretty unlikely.

What could you do to prevent this or make it less likely to happen?

I can’t control the stock market, but I could reduce the impact of a crash on me by spreading out my investments (some stocks, some bonds, etc). I could also make sure that I don’t invest money that I need immediately (keep a 3 month cash reserve) so I can absorb the shock if I need to.

How could you repair the situation if it did happen?

If the market did crash and I lost some of my savings, the best thing would probably be to do nothing, just keep saving and investing since it will eventually bounce back. Maybe a crash would even be a good opportunity to invest more.

Start by answering these questions for at least one of the fears on your list now. This activity takes a bit more time, so if you need to, schedule time later to come back and answer these questions for the rest of the fears on your list.