We’re not talking, “What’s the meaning of life?” so much as, “What do I want to achieve in my lifetime?”
Some of these questions — none of which have easy answers or right answers — are key to consider during young adulthood.
Below, we’ve highlighted 11 questions you’ll want to start thinking about today. They’ll help you gain clarity about the kinds of jobs, relationships, and life dreams you should be chasing.
If I were to die tomorrow, would I feel satisfied with my life?
At this point in your life, you may assume you’ve got decades ahead. Hopefully, you’re right.
Still, that’s no reason to put off personal fulfillment until later. Make the necessary changes today.
As Quora user Matthew Jones writes, “If you’re dissatisfied with your life as it is right now, spending time re-evaluating how you manage your time is important. There are no certainties in life and there may not be a tomorrow, so while setting long-term goals and planning for the future is important, you need to find a way to soak up life.”
Nicolas Cole writes: “This is the fancy, adult way of saying, ‘What can only I do?’ In business, there is always a lot of talk about ‘value proposition.’ What are you proposing and how much value will it bring?”
It’s similar to a question from Fred Landis: “Is there anything I can do easily that others find hard?”
Once you uncover your unique value proposition or talent, you can work on becoming an expert in that area. As A.J. Agrawal writes at Inc.: “Have three to four news outlets that specialize in your value proposition, and make sure you take time to read them every day. Start sharing articles on your social media, and then begin blogging or writing articles about the subject. Over time, more and more people will recognize you as an expert in your field.”
Who inspires me most?
“Think about the one person you most want to emulate. Who is it? Now what is it about their story or character that draws you to them? Write down the words that come to mind. The person you want to be like the most tells you a lot about who you hope to become.”
Why do I get up in the morning?
This question, posed by Ariel Banayan, is another way of asking: What’s your purpose?
You may not have an easy answer, but you definitely have a purpose — and the sooner you find it, the sooner you can begin dedicating all your energy toward fulfilling it.
How much did I learn today?
“When you are in 20s, your learning curve should be so high,” writes Raja Reddy Poreddy. “Learn a lot every day. Make sure you write a diary of what you have learned each day.”
This daily habit is a good one to hold on to, even as you progress into your 30s and beyond. Your goal should be to learn something new every day, so that your view of the world is constantly changing.
Who do I love, and have I told or showed them lately?
Don’t assume your friends and family know how you feel — let them know you care about them. It’s especially important given that a Harvard study found close relationships are key to happiness and longevity.
What is my definition of success?
“This is one question that significantly improved my life,” writes Irene Enriquez, in a since-deleted answer.
“We all have preconceived notions of success: power, fame, money. But success isn’t limited to these things. Success can mean having peace of mind, or being in an environment that nurtures your talents.
“You have to define what success means to you. Doing this can be your guide when making decisions.”
Need some inspiration? Find out how super-achievers like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington define success.
Where will I be in five years if I continue down my current path?
In contrast to an aspirational “five-year vision,” Sim Campbell recommends something more realistic (his answer has since been deleted).
“A lot of people have this notion that ‘things will get better’. Things won’t get better if you don’t do anything to change them. If you’re a good place right now, great. Keep going. If you’re in a bad place, redirect the ship. You’re the one steering it.”
Would the 5-year-old me be proud of the current me?
This question, from Deepak Mehta, is a clever way of checking to see that you’ve stayed true to your core values. Here’s one point to consider:
“Your younger self wasn’t afraid of dreaming big. He didn’t care if something was un-achievable or unrealistic. What about you now? Have you compromised on those dreams?”
It’s similar to something Gretchen Rubin told Business Insider: Before you switch careers, remember what you liked to do for fun as a kid.
Imagine yourself being a very famous person 10 years down the line. What do you think you might have achieved that made you famous?
Asparah Achar writes that, whether your answer is “I’d be a novelist” or “I’d be an entrepreneur,” it’ll give you some clarity as to what goal you should be pursuing.
Then, she says, you can start asking follow-up questions such as, “Am I doing enough today that I’ll achieve what I aspire to become?”
What’s the thing holding me back?
“What is that main thing that is keeping you from moving forward and who can help you to cut the chain?” writes Vinita Punjabi.
Maybe it’s a general fear of failure; or maybe it’s something more specific and easily surmountable, like not knowing how to write a solid cover letter. Whatever it is, identifying the issue will bring you once step closer to getting rid of it.