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The Weekly Winning Thought

2 Questions Guaranteed to Simplify Your Life in 2023

By January 8, 2023No Comments

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

-Bill Watterson

‘Tis the season. We’re 9 days into New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing so far?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth about New Year’s resolutions is the following: (source:

  • 58% of us will make New Year’s resolutions
  • 73% of us will stick to them for one week
  • 68% will make it two weeks
  • Only 9% will report success on their resolutions twelve months later

But don’t despair – I have a “resolution solution” for you that I’ll share with you momentarily.

It is interesting to note that the majority of New Year’s resolutions are focused on self-improvement or education; we want to be better so we can behave better. Behavioral change is the desire of our heart, but the weakness of our flesh.

In my role as an executive coach and business consultant, I work with individuals who want to improve their professional and personal lives. I can boil it down to two questions that those I serve are asking me this time of year: “Bill, can you help me be more productive and help me lower my stress level?”

Fair enough. Here it goes …

But first, it’s important to note a fact or two; we Americans live in a consumer-driven economy – we are driven to consume. We consume stuff and our stuff consumes us. It eats all of our discretionary money and it devours our precious time with the same insatiable appetite. If you think about it, our only non-replenishable asset is time. We can replenish our balance sheets with more money and even reconcile years of a bad relationship with a heartfelt apology, but we can never regain time that’s been spent. Time is non-replenishable.

Really what my clients are asking me to do for them is to help them find more time so they can be more productive, have more margin in their life, and do it with less stress.

So here’s the secret …

A couple of years ago I heard two guys who refer to themselves as “The Minimalists”, share two questions we should all ask ourselves when we are about to take on additional stuff or trying to shed ourselves of stuff – either with our money, possessions, or our time:

  • Will this add value to my life?
  • Will this bring me joy?

If the answer to either one of these questions is “no”, don’t do it. If it’s “yes” to either question, then do it.

Allow me to illustrate.

Suppose you say, “I need a new car.” Question #1: Will this add value to my life? If you don’t already have a car the answer could very well be “yes”. You’re done, now go buy the car. But suppose you own a car with 100,000 miles and it’s paid for, works fine, and is not held together by duct tape.  You say, “I need a new car.” Question #1: “Will this add value to my life?” Answer: “No, I already have a car that gets me from point A to point B.” Now move on to question #2: “Will this bring me joy?” Answer: “Yes, but only for a week or two.” So you don’t buy the car, thus avoiding a new monthly payment, higher insurance costs, higher property taxes, buyer’s remorse, etc.

Think about it. You just used only two questions to cut through all the noise that yells things at you like: “Joe bought a new car, I think we need one; my business will grow if people see my success in my new ride. I’m going to have to get a new car someday, it might as well be now. Wow, 0% financing for 24 months!”

You just simplified your life and reduced your stress level by answering only two questions. I’ll say it again – only two questions! You can use this for purchases you’re considering, items you’re thinking about discarding, and most importantly, every demand on your time that puts you in the “overwhelmed” category.

For those of us who are followers of Christ, we have no better model than Jesus Himself. He had a ministry that lasted only three years and still took time to get “away by Himself to pray”. Yet He accomplished everything He set out to do. We rush from place to place telling people how busy we are saying things like, “I’ve been meaning to do that for years.”

The scriptures don’t record Jesus having ever asked these two questions, but when I overlay these questions to His mission and message, I can imagine Jesus saying something like this: “Will this add value to this person’s life who is standing in front of me right now?; Will this add value to what my Father has called me to do?; Will this bring joy to the individuals I encounter?”

In 2023, rather than having a New Year’s resolution that you only have a 9% statistical chance of completing, resolve to ask yourself these two questions when it comes to how you spend your money, how to spend your time, and what to do with the stuff you have and the stuff you want: 1) Will this add value to my life; and 2) Will this bring me joy? If you do this, I will guarantee that you will experience greater productivity and less stress, leading to a simpler life.

A simpler life may actually lead to having more time to focus on somebody other than you. If we do, we will become more like Jesus. Wow! Now that’s a good solution to our resolutions.

Resources for further exploration:

Play to win this week in the game that really counts!

Are you a business owner, executive, or other professional looking to grow your business and improve your life? If so, see how Bill and his firm might be able to help you: Northstar Leadership