The Simplest Question

Samurai in Hat Sketch

Improvement is something nearly everyone craves–you want to be better at your job, better at your relationships, better with your physical fitness–the lists goes on endlessly.

Regardless of what you’re trying to improve, there are likely thousands of websites, books, and bits of advice available to you that will help you to analyze your desires, organize them in a healthy way, and slowly make progress towards one (or more) of these goals. Over time, with enough consistency, you’ll improve in the areas you want to improve in, and feel better about it along the way.

Despite the plethora of readily available information, I can’t help but think of my own experiences with personal development over the past few years. I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading books, writing, and working to improve myself, but the most important lesson I learned along the way was to ask myself a simple question every day:

“Is what I’m about to do taking me closer to my goals, or further away?”

No matter how many things I’ve got on my TODO list, no matter how much pressure I’m under, and no matter how crappy I’m feeling at the time–asking myself that simple question has without a doubt been the most effective way I’ve been able to keep moving forward.

It is so easy to sabotage yourself and your desires. When you’re tired, frustrated, pressured, irritated, or generally feeling less-than-perfect, you tend to make mistakes. You’ll eat that extra cheeseburger, skip that last important email, and slowly move yourself further away from your goals.

The next time you make a decision to do something, ask yourself that simple question, and keep yourself honest.