1. Would my 5 year-old self be proud of who I’ve become?
Olivia Penpraze has a quote that says, “Remember yourself as a little girl. She is counting on you to protect her.” Apply to boys as well of course. The innocence of our childhood and the enthusiasm that goes along with it, should never completely vanish, even as we get older. When you think of the little child that you once were, with all your hopes and dreams, it’s worth asking if you allowed that child to try to achieve some of them. It’s worth asking if you still do.
2. Do I want to look rich or do I want to be rich?
This is a question that a friend gave to me after she read and recommended the book, The Millionaire Next Door that I’ve just started reading. Now being rich is not necessarily everyone’s goal but I imagine being financially stable might be. Between peer pressure and the age of a digital visual culture where it is so easy to get caught up in how one’s life looks, sometimes at great personal cost, this is a solid question that can change your relationship with your finances, and how you showcase what you have.
3. Is how I spend my time and my money a true reflection of my values?
“Where your heart is, your treasure also is,” as the Good Book says. Sometimes there is a dissonance between what we say matters to us, and what our actions say matter to us. But we are known and we know ourselves honestly, by what we do with how we use our limited resources – including time and money. Our values should manifest in our lives, and not just by words.
4. Whose opinions really matter to me?
Opinions are like…..you fill in the blank. People are going to have a lot of opinions about you. You can’t help it. You probably have more than a couple too. Here’s the thing that you should remember that will save you from a lot of needless worry from many if not most people: Opinions are not created equally. So decide whose opinions you actually value, and not just because they are telling you what you want to hear. But because they are intelligent or compassionate or really care about you. And everybody else, well, listen, maybe. Sometimes good advice comes from unexpected places. But don’t listen to everybody.
5. What will I absolutely regret not doing in my twenties?
Regret is a thing, I think, that we learn to negotiate with at the end of the day. On one hand, your regrets can cripple you into living in the past. On the other, they can provide you with insight for how you might want to change the way you’re living your life. Imagine yourself in your later years, what are the things you would have wished you had done? And remember this every time you’re scared to do anything while you’re young. Chances are, as it’s often been said, you’ll probably regret more of the things you didn’t do, than the things you did.
6. Am I around the people I want to be around?
It’s easy to get stuck in a crowd of people you’re not even sure you like or want to be around. It’s because making friends in adulthood can be hard. But you become the people that you’re around, so choose wisely. But remember always that this is one of the things you actually get to choose in life – your friends and your acquaintances. Find and keep people you love around you. It’s not easy but it’s worth it.
7. Do I challenge myself enough?
Life is hard. That’s one of the basic truths of existence. And there is no need to make it harder than it already is. But that does not equate to not challenging yourself in how you go about your life. From your physical body to your intellectual capacity, dare yourself to be around things that are out of your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised at what you might find out about yourself.
8. Do I know how to make peace with the past?
Nobody’s childhood and teenage years were perfect. Your parents, your siblings, and the people you grew up with are a part of you in some shape or form. Now you can let them become ghosts in your life that haunt you in different ways. Or maybe you can try to see the past as objectively as possible – sometimes good, and sometimes bad. But perhaps it was exactly what it needed to be to make you who you are.
9. What is my relationship with the world at large?
Your relationship with the world is another thing that you solely get to decide. You can think of this place and its people as something that you want to affect, in small or big ways. You cannot think of it at all. You can think of the world as inherently good or inherently bad or a complex mix of adjectives entirely. But whatever you think about the world, realize that it says a lot about who you are too.
10. Do I know how to really forgive?
Forgiveness, I think, is a lifetime lesson. Just when you think you’ve got it, something happens that requires you to practice it. Forgiveness is something that we all need, probably every day. The imperfections of human beings is not lost on any of us, and so being willing to forgive each other for our imperfections is how we live together rightly. And of course, learning how to forgive yourself is something you’ll need to figure out as well.
11. How do I wish to be remembered?
It’s a big question. It’s a question that is quite literally larger than life. Now, one shouldn’t ask this question in order to create an obsession with leaving a legacy. But oftentimes, we need to strike a balance, with the past, the present, and the future. And we need to realize that what we did, and what we do, is ultimately how people will speak of us when we’re no longer around. What will they say, when they speak of you?
12. What have I learned from my failures and my success?
You learn a lot from both success and failure. You might even learn some of the same things. Success and failure both, can humble you, teach you about your mistakes, and teach you about the sacrifices you are and aren’t willing to make to achieve something. So pay attention to both of them always, and remember that both are an opportunity to learn and to reflect.
13. Am I doing the best I can right now?
We all have to deal with the mundanities of life. And that can trap us into thinking that all life is, is passing through the motions. But it isn’t, or at least it ought not to be. At many points in life, you’re probably going through some struggle or another. Or maybe you’re not. But you feel like you’re just breathing but not fully alive. Whatever life situation you find yourself, always ask if you’re doing the best you can. If you’re not, get off your ass and change things. If you are, and whatever that might look like at this moment in time, be proud. You’re going to make it, and you’re going to be more than fine.