3 ways to find out if something is worth doing

This is part 4 in the series How to double your productivity.

Here’s a couple of thoughts and questions I have found to be quite effective when trying to determine the potential value of an activity, task or action.

Using them can enable you to reach more clarity in your decision-making and to set the priorities in your life straight.

Check the future impact

This small tip takes the focus away from short-sightedness. Before you do something, simply to ask yourself:

What would be the future impact in my life if I did this?

Note both the negative and the positive consequences of your potential choices. This can save you many hours of doing pointless things that leads nowhere. The things you do find holding positive possibilities for you are the ones to pour energy and time into.

See it from the future. And then even further out.

Here you’re using the perspective of time once again to see the potential impact of your choices.

When you think about a larger decision (or perhaps not such a large one), close your eyes. Then visualize yourself and your life 5 years from now. First, imagine that you didn’t make that decision. Ask yourself this:

What have I missed out on by not making that decision or taking that action 5 years ago? What are the feelings, the people, the experiences, the results I have missed out on?

And really try to visualize and feel it.

Then, with your eyes still closed, imagine this:

You made that decision or started that activity 5 years ago. Ask yourself:

What did it bring me?

What were the feeling, experiences, results and people has it brought into my life these past 5 years?

How much has my life changed by me doing what I did?

Then, if you wish, try imagining yourself 10 years from now. Ask yourself the same questions again. Gauge the extent of the positive and negative consequences. By putting things in a longer time-perspective it can become easier to find what’s really important to you.

If I knew then what I know now.

I first heard about this one from Steve Pavlina and it concerns the now rather than the future. It checks the course you are already on and the choice you have already made to see if it’s something you still want to do. If it’s something that aligns with the person you are today.

Ask yourself:

Knowing what I know now, would I ever have gotten started with this project, career etc. if I had to do it all over again?

If the answer is no, perhaps you should stop whatever you are doing. You don’t have to stick with things until the bitter end and always finish what you’ve started. If what you’re doing no longer gives you the results you want, then maybe it’s time to try and find something better for yourself.

In the next few days, part 5: on finding and working from your values.

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About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

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