Powerful questions offer a pathway to a better life. By regularly questioning your values, decisions, priorities, and habits, you live more intentionally. And this increased intentionality will help you approach life with more determination, focus, and serenity. On this basis, here are six minimalism questions that will change your life.
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Many people want to improve their lives by consuming deliberately, redefining their attitudes toward work, and building new habits.
However, before all of that, you need to ask the right questions.
Questions are the starting point for any personal growth endeavor. To better your life, you first need to ask yourself what you want to improve and why you want to improve it.
Without a thorough questioning process, your motivations, fears, and goals will be opaque. And this opacity will hinder your progress – both at work and in your personal life.
Minimalism questions to ask yourself regularly
The following are six questions that will streamline your decisions by helping you focus on the essentials. Better still, they will clarify your life’s trajectory and highlight potential corrections.
1. What if I could only subtract to solve problems?
I found this question in an ebook called 17 Questions That Changed My Life by Tim Ferriss.
Upon reading the book, the subtraction question piqued my interest.
What if I improved every aspect of my life by removing things?
I was in a full-on decluttering phase at the time and gradually sold or donated most of my possessions. The question, however, led to a much larger vision of decluttering.
I started to apply it in various areas:
- Boosting my work ethics by removing excuses: every time I felt lazy or uninspired, I took out a piece of paper and wrote down every possible reason for my laziness. Once they were on paper, I crossed them off. In my mind, it felt like all the excuses had vanished, and I stopped thinking about them.
- Removing stress factors to become more mindful: daily mindfulness routines – like baths, meditation, forest walks, and reading – gradually kill mental strain.
- Removing paper and unnecessary email floods: to get more organized, remove before re-arranging.
- Becoming more productive by removing perfectionism: excessive perfectionism was a primary hindrance to my productivity. Once I had learned how to eliminate it, I got a lot more done in less time.
2. Does this item/service add value to my life?
The next minimalism question to ask yourself regularly is whether a possession adds value to your life.
Yes, this question is common, but it’s also life-changing.
As such, it will underline your genuine reasons for buying something. After a while, you’ll start to realize that many of your consumer decisions rest on external cues – like ads, peer pressure, and gratification – not a personal value-driven approach.
As an example, you might see a luxury watch on the wrist of your boss. You think to yourself: “I need that watch. It will make me look like a CEO.”
With the value question, you’ll analyze the watch’s real impact on your life.
It might make me look like a CEO, but it will also lead to a surge in credit card debt. Aside from changing my appearance – not my position – it doesn’t provide more value than a $100 alternative.
Intentional consumption is not sorcery. It is merely a more thoughtful way to consume. Instead of buying stuff and asking questions later, you ask questions before purchasing a particular item.
Once you start to practice it, you’ll see that deliberate buying habits will save you heaps of money, and you’ll own stuff without stuff owning you.
3. Are my priorities aligned with my values, and do my daily habits reflect them?
The next set of minimalism questions concerns your values, priorities, and daily habits.
Values are the overriding principles that govern your life. You might have a moral code – concerning your treatment of people, various professional values – like discipline and honesty, and personal values – such as courage.
Values differ, but their function doesn’t. They should be your life’s compass. Without well-defined values, you’ll aimlessly wander around without knowing your life’s best direction.
Next, you should question your priorities. The word “priority” comes from the Latin term “prioritatem” – meaning being prior or coming before something else.
Values are abstract principles that define which action should come first. As such, values should form the basis of your priorities.
Finally, ask yourself how your daily habits reflect those priorities.
As an example, if one of your cardinal values concerns family life, your priorities will include family-driven actions. Consequently, you’ll organize your daily routines – like your job and leisure activities – according to family-orientated considerations. Other matters – such as watching sports or traveling – will come after your first concern.
4. How would I live my life if money wasn’t an issue?
Pause for a moment and ask yourself what your lifestyle would look like if you had unlimited financial resources.
The goal is not to determine what kind of luxury items you would buy if you could. The question aims at assessing your relationship with money.
Would you keep the same job if you didn’t need the money? Would you buy the same things if you could afford more expensive alternatives? And how would your relationships be if you were a billionaire?
At the end of this thought experiment, you’ll have two results.
First, you’ll know what your ideal lifestyle would look like and how much it depends on money. As such, you’ll have a better idea of the role of money when it comes to achieving lifestyle design.
The answer is often less straightforward than you might think. We all want a better car, nice clothes, and lots of fancy wine. However, many components of our ideal lifestyle – like freedom, mental health, and purpose – are not reliant on money.
Secondly, you’ll discover the extent to which money influences your decisions. You’ll see whether you took that job because it’s a promising career or because it guarantees steady paychecks without too much risk.
5. How do I use technology and social media?
The next minimalism question revolves around our usage of technology.
Social media, trendy apps, and screens, in general, have become so ubiquitous that we stopped questioning our usage. They are a natural part of everyday life, just like breakfast and showering.
Nevertheless, questioning our relationship with technology is crucial for many reasons.
First, technology should supplement, not replace human interactions.
“Where we want to be cautious . . . is when the sound of a voice or a cup of coffee with a friend is replaced with ‘likes’ on a post.”
Consequently, ask yourself how many interactions you miss as a result of using technology. What’s your justification? Do you gain more value from screens than from face-to-face interaction? Do you prefer social media likes to real-word compliments?
These questions will help you regain control over technology and use it more deliberately.
Secondly, question your usage by tracking your screen time and writing down your reasons for using particular platforms. You might use Instagram to promote your photography and spend one hour a day on it. Again, to check your justifications, you need to ask the right questions.
Finally, digital detoxes are sometimes an excellent way to redefine your relationship with technology.
6. How can I extend minimalist thinking to every aspect of life?
The last minimalism question to ask yourself is about a broader way of thinking.
Once you know how to set value-driven priorities and consume intentionally, you can extend these thinking patterns to other aspects of life.
You can, for instance, apply minimalist thinking in your professional life. As such, you can use the Pareto principle to bolster your productivity. In that same vein, choose your connections – both personal and professional ones – more deliberately.
Minimalism changed my life because I started questioning my choices from the ground up.
Better questions are the foundation for a solid set of values that will help you build the right habits. And these small, daily acts will ultimately determine your success in any field.
2020 was a rough year, but also a period in which many people reoriented their lives. 2021 is the perfect time to follow through on this year’s new values, and the right questions are where it all starts.
Useful links on Minimalism Questions That Will Change Your Life
- more in the section “Life”
- read 6 Minimalist Habits That Changed My Life
- more under the topic “Mindset”
Don’t miss a beat!
Jack Krier is a writer, photographer, and entrepreneur. On Minimalist Focus, he shares his ideas on minimalism and personal growth, helping thousands of readers improve their lives by focusing on the essentials.