The 4 Questions That Matter

“Take a chance because you’ll never know how absolutely great something can turn out to be” – Unknown

My best guess for how to uncover life’s hidden rulebook and get the most out of this curious adventure starts and ends with four simple questions.

I believe each one is an important ingredient in a successful and fulfilling life. Each one can have both simple as well as thoughtful and deep answers. I’ve found that as time goes on, I spend more time trying to sort out the deep answers. I’m also convinced that I will run out of time before I get fully satisfactory answers – and that’s ok. The adventure is the journey, not the destination.

Here are the four questions:

1. Do you have a theory on how the world works?

Humans are both amazing and limited creatures. Any understanding of life needs to start with an understanding of how the world works and how we ourselves work. Did you know that we have programming errors built into our brains where we will consistently and predictably make mistakes in certain situations? These “cognitive biases” are a rich field of study in psychology. The “How the World Works” posts explore this and other topics to help you develop your own theories of how both you and the world work. Like a scientist, if you have a theory, you can test it over time and refine it as you learn more.

2. Do you have a strong foundation?

To get the most out of life, I’m convinced you need a strong base of mental and physical health. These areas form the core of daily activity and need to be tended to regularly to maintain, and hopefully improve, your life. This is where the “little bit of hard work” comes in. Most people have heard of the basics of eating right, exercising, sleeping well, and managing stress. The trick, which works for most things, is to work on it a little bit every day. The “Foundation” posts provide a summary of what I’ve learned about our minds, our bodies, and our environment. I’ve also included a fourth foundation – money – as it is hard to operate in today’s world without a basic understanding and philosophy of how to approach your finances.

3. Do you know what you want (and how much you want it)?

Once you have the basic building blocks, it’s time to start thinking about what you want out of life. This is harder than it sounds. Most people only have a vague sense of what they want – they want to be “healthy”, “successful”, or “rich”. I’ve found those kinds of wants are not specific enough to be useful. Understanding what you want at a deep level, and why you want it, will do wonders for your ability to get it. The “What Do You Want” posts provide the perspectives and tools that I have found most helpful for figuring out what I want.

4. Do you know how to get it?

Knowing what you want is only the start. The key is how to get it. That includes knowing what tasks need to be done, as well as what resources and skills are needed and how to get them. While you can do a lot of it yourself, you will also most likely need other people to help you and there are tips and tricks for that as well.

The “Essential Toolkit” posts comprises six key skills that I believe everyone should have.  I’ve also collected several additional techniques that have helped me on my journey. The “Extended Toolkit” posts are either more advanced (e.g. techniques for improving memory) or for specific situations (such as networking and selling ideas). As long as my own adventure continues, you can check the site periodically to see if I’ve added any new ones.

And that’s it. If you can answer yes to each of those 4 questions, your chances for success are probably higher than 95% of the population, and you should stop reading this site and get started. If you need some tips on how to answer those question, keep reading.

As a final note, re-ask those questions at least once every six months to see if your answer changed. I have seen what I want (#3) in particular change over time.