Of course, excessive self-absorption is a step toward narcissism, but some people don’t look inward enough. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” To that end, here are some questions that most people, at some point, have asked themselves but are worth revisiting:
When was I happiest? To help jog your memory, you may want to walk chronologically through your life, or think about your life’s activities: work, school, vacations, hobbies, and relationships.
What should I do more of? Not sure? It may help to think about your recent or past accomplishments during which you enjoyed the process.
What should I do less of? You might unearth something by listing your failures and looking for common threads among them.
What should I do differently? Think of your activities in and outside work that are important and/or you do frequently. Would you be more effective or happier if you did one or more differently? If so, what would you do differently?
Where am I most effective? At work, some people are more effective in isolation, others in a social environment, some at home, others not. Outside of work, are you most effective in your home, at a friend’s home, in a classroom, in a bar, where?
Why do most people react to me the way they do? A person might consistently elicit reactions that are warm, cold, indifferent, or outright hostile. How about you? Any idea why? If you’re not sure, should you ask trusted people for truly honest feedback?
What would the wise person within me do in this situation? We can behave anywhere between our best and our worst self. This question invokes your best.
Whom should I emulate? Some people are inspired by role models. Is there one, real or fictional, you should emulate in dealing with a specific problem? In general?
What should go on my schedule today? I often suggest that my clients, before going to bed, create a tentative schedule for the next day.
Is continuing to revisit that bad experience helping me? Or is it keeping the immutable top-of-mind and me stuck, providing excuses from moving forward? Sometimes, it helps to process your parent’s, romantic partner’s, or boss’s past ill-treatment of you. But usually, the benefits of revisiting it yet again are outweighed by the liabilities. How about in your situation?
What matters, what really matters? For some people, it all comes down to family. For others, it’s their work. Or their creative outlet. Or major societal contribution? How about for you?
This article is part of a series. The others are: