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Four Questions that Will Help You to Stay on Track in 2012


The past and the future
Image by Atli Harðarson (license).

.“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights”
Hamilton Wright Mabie

The year is coming to an end. Just two days to go. But before we head into 2012 I want to share four questions that you can use so that you don’t lose your way next year.

Have a happy, awesome and meaningful New Year!

Is this useful?

This is a good way to for example weed out thought habits that may not be so useful. Your mind may for instance fool you into believing that it’s the right thing to go around being angry at someone because, well, you’re right. Or that it’s right to dwell on a problem because you had such bad luck or was singled out.

Both thought patterns are quite seductive because they can fool you into believing that you are doing the “right” or “normal” thing. But are dwelling on such thoughts useful to you? Probably not. That will just create suffering in your life, waste your time and do little to solve a practical situation. By asking if something is useful you can stop yourself while heading down a negative path and turn around towards the light again.

What is the most important thing I can do right now?

If you are lost in what to do next in your day, week or life, ask yourself this question. The answer might not always be what you want to hear because the most important thing is often one of the harder things you want to do too. But it can help you to check your priorities and stop you from getting lost in busy work and instead start tackling the really big stuff.

Am I keeping things extremely simple?

It’s very easy to start to overcomplicating things to, for example, find excuses for not doing something or simply because is a regular thought habit of yours.

Overcomplicating things can bring anything to halt. Or make it much harder to get something done.

So I like to ask myself this question a lot. By questioning how I am going about things or how I am planning to go about things with a project or a situation I can declutter my plans and thoughts. And this makes the process of working towards and reaching my goal a whole lot simpler.

I may not always find an extremely simple solution or path towards what I want. But I can pretty much always make things simpler and easier by asking myself this question.

Is there anyone on the planet having it worse than me right now?

When I am stuck on focusing on the negatives, when I feel like a victim and like things are going against me I ask myself this question.

The answer may not result in positive thoughts, but it can sure snap you of a somewhat childish “poor, poor me…” attitude pretty quickly. I understand that I have much to be grateful for in my life.

This question changes my perspective from a narrow, self-centred one into a much wider one. It helps me to lighten up about my situation. After I have changed my perspective I usually ask another question like:

What is the hidden opportunity within this situation?

That follow-up question is very helpful to keep your focus on how to solve a problem or get something good out a current situation. Rather than asking yourself “why?” over and over and thereby focusing on the negatives and making yourself feel worse and worse.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • marc van der Linden December 30, 2011, 10:15 am

    Hi Hendrik,

    Great questions!

    The last one is surprising, but very helpful. When I ask myself this question, I realize that I am still doing very well comparing with the rest of the world and can myself align more easy with my current situation. It brings indeed not more positivity, but it certainly brings more balance in my life. The opportunity question afterwards coming from a balanced perspective is pure gold :-)

    Thanks for sharing

  • Darren Poke December 30, 2011, 11:39 am

    Great post again Henrik.

    I love question 2 and how you word why this is such an important question.

    Thanks again and all the best for you and your blog in 2012.

  • Anonymous December 30, 2011, 6:42 pm

    Good ones..very practical…

  • Jewel December 30, 2011, 6:45 pm

    Loved the four questions. Am using as part of my work at my job today and passing along to co-workers and family.

  • Emily December 30, 2011, 11:54 pm

    Those are great questions, and a strikingly beautiful photo. Both inspirational.

  • Will Kwan December 31, 2011, 12:55 am

    Love it! I liked how you used the phrase “Am I keeping things extremely simple?” and then kept the post around four very simple guidelines. Useful, easy to implement, and effective.

  • Erik January 1, 2012, 1:37 am

    This is good for new year’s goals. For larger scale life goals (which I like better), here’s 4 similar questions:

    1.) If you never had to work another day in your life, and money was no object, what would you do?
    2.) What stories do you want to tell your grandchildren?
    3.) What did you dream about when you were a kid?
    4.) You’re dying. You look back on your life, and you know it’s been good. You’re filled with an immense sense of thankfulness and peace. Why?

    More on this here:
    http://thebucketlistsociety.com/2011/12/11/making-the-list/

  • Ken Wert January 1, 2012, 6:53 am

    This is great, Henrick,

    I especially love this question: “What is the most important thing I can do right now?” It’s the question I’m always asking myself (and sometimes living by!)

    So many possibilities are lost at the altar of things that don’t really matter that much.

    Thanks for the insight! And have an amazing New Happy!

  • Steven January 1, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Often asking the right questions is better than trying to have all the answers. Questions like these help us re-focus on what is really important in our lives. Thanks for the helpful reminder!

  • Chris January 2, 2012, 2:42 am

    Great article Henrik,

    Keeping things extremely simple and alway asking yourself “what is the most important thing I can do right now” are great ways to remain in the present moment and increase your productivity.

    “Any fool can make things complicated, it takes a genius to make things simple” – Einstein

  • Andy Koehn January 2, 2012, 5:19 am

    The last one is a doozy and I’ve used it many times myself. (With a little guilt…). I’m glad I found your site! Nothing’s accidental….

    I’ll be back!

  • William Veasley January 2, 2012, 7:06 am

    For me, it has always been “are they useful” because I have never been good at choosing the right friends. One after other they got me into trouble, hurt me, beat me up, stole from me, and betrade my trust.
    Once trust is lost it is one of the hardest things to regain.
    I have been working on keeping things as simple as possible. It is easy to make things more complicated then they have to be, so I try to envision my picture piece by piece.
    I may be different, but I try not to focus on anyone else. I do not care if someone is doing better than or worst than me. The only thing that works for me is focusing on myself and how I am doing.

    Is it good to focus on ourselves? What does it take to make things simple?

    God bless,
    William Veasley

  • Mystic Sea Angel January 2, 2012, 10:38 pm

    I love the question, “Is this useful?” I started asking myself this question half way through 2011, and it changed my life. I look forward to a wonderful 2012! Thank you for your post, it is great! =) Happy New Year, and may your year be full of blessings!

  • Henrik Edberg January 3, 2012, 5:42 pm

    Thank you everyone for adding your own questions and helpful thoughts! Much appreciated. :)

    • Jay January 31, 2012, 4:12 pm

      That’s one hevlula awesome pic right there. And I’m pretty pleased that the picture is one of happiness,sanctity and gaming pleasure. It inspires me to bigger dreams. Jeremy Stersky

  • Noelle January 9, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the great article Henrik! Great insight on the “what is the most important thing right now”. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2012!

  • Justlife January 21, 2012, 4:22 pm

    Last few weeks I was feeling very devastated when facing some obstacles in pursuing my dream. But instead of asking “Is there anyone on the planet having it worse than me right now?”, I picked myself up by asking this question: “why do you want to achieve this goal in the first place?” It reminds me of all the great things that I’ll gain and the lifestyle I’m longing for when I succeed. It motivated me to start again.

  • Rajiv Kumar Luv February 18, 2012, 2:45 am

    Good questions! How about adding one more:

    What are some things I should not do?

    Rajiv