A Foolproof Method for Answering Tough Questions

Over the past few months, I’ve said “yes” more than usual. I love a great adventure, but I’m also a proud home body. My idea of a perfect Friday night is more often than not staying in with friends and family. It’s easy to be safe and choose the obvious, more routine, route. But that hasn’t served me much lately.

When visiting Europe, I had a three days on my own. I’d never traveled solo internationally before, so I was anxious. My best friend told me I’d really love Prague, and I should see it. I had a free day, but Prague was a five hour bus ride each way, and I’d only be in the city a few hours. Sitting on my bed alone in a Munich hotel, my logical brain was weighing the pros and cons. It’s supposedly beautiful. Lots of history. A long, but easy, bus ride. I’d have to leave before sunrise tomorrow. Ten hours on a bus in one day?! By myself? And then, “how could I not?” I bought the ticket.

A few years ago, I invested in a racing bike. I’ve ridden it some, but biking in Chicago gets busy and intimidating. I hadn’t ridden my bike all summer, until today. It’s a gorgeous day in the city, and my rest day from running. The Chicago lakefront is not something to waste as it gets colder outside. So I headed out and hit the lakefront path, where I sit writing this, next to my bike.

An amazing tool I’ve learned for life’s questions – both minor and major – is to understand the alternative. Had I stayed in Munich, so close to Prague, I would have regretted not taking the (relatively) short journey. I was cozy on the couch this morning, but the temperate days in Chicago are quickly disappearing. Considering how I’d feel if my bike sat rusting all year got me up in minutes.

Try it – ask yourself about the alternative.

  • Where am I in a year if I stay in the job I hate?
  • If I spend hours a day on social media, does that lead me to a life I love?
  • How can I not take a new, exciting opportunity, despite being happy with my current situation?

Answering questions backwards sheds more light than “am I better off just staying put?” One of the most telling answers for me as of late comes from that question: what is the alternative? What happens if I say no? Where does failure to act get me?

If you don’t use this method to get you answers, I highly encourage testing it for yourself. It’s pretty incredible, and usually clear, how easy the answer makes a decision.


3 thoughts on “A Foolproof Method for Answering Tough Questions

  1. Mark Smith says:

    Awesome post! So often we forget to for granted our one shot here on earth to live the most amazing life. Passing up opportunities or looking the other way. I think next time I go to write some of my goals I’ll try asking myself some questions in this backwards manner, and see if I come up with some new plans for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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