Delete Bad Decisions By Unlocking The Power Of A Question

The Answers Already Live Within You

Sean Kernan
Nov 20, 2019 · 4 min read
Pexels Burak K


My spending wasn’t always wise.

I raided snack machines. I spent $1 on a bag of chips that sold for $5 by the dozen at the grocery store.

I knew I didn’t need to eat that food. But I did it over and over again. If a bear knew how to use a wallet, I’d be that bear. Take all my money — put all that food in my face.

Frequently — I overpaid and impulse purchased earbuds rather than shopping around for better prices. (“But I like the way these ones look….”)

I went out to dinner more than once a week and threw out gone-bad groceries from the fridge.

I’ve managed to correct the ship in recent times. I’ll share the trick — it will help you practice some fiscal restraint:

The next time you are at a store and you are about to buy something. I want you to hold whatever you are about to purchase up at eye level, look at it, and ask yourself:

“Do I really need this?”

The act of “asking the question” has a way of surfacing logic and emotions that will counter your urge to purchase. It will serve as a gut check before you whip out that debit card.

And, importantly, it will lessen the pain of putting the product back on the shelf, devaluing the perceived need for something you never truly needed.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever indulge yourself. You can and should.

The problem? Most of our spending habits are totally wasteful and don’t provide lasting value. So much of our purchasing is driven by emotion and impulse. It subtly undermines our need to manage our budget.

Yes — indulge yourself — but pick your shots.

This also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend more on less. Quality purchases: things that last longer, look better when it counts (dates, work), and provide value to you in the long term, are worth investing in.

Spending more — in many cases results in spending less and getting much more value per dollar: buying a newer car with fewer miles on it rather than going to the mechanic every month, a quality mattress that will save you sleep, back pain and medical bills later in life.

Niche, seemingly-silly purchases have a place too. If it is a hobby or something you spend a lot of time doing — go for it.

I’ll give you an example: I recently spent extra to purchase a silent mouse (no clicking sounds or mouse wheel).

I already own several mouses. Why buy a new one?

Well — I like quiet — it helps me focus. I’m Type-A, easily distracted, and I use this computer all day long, doing what I do, writing. I will derive value from this silent mouse. Next up is a silent keyboard — I’m willing to spend on that too.

But only because — my answer was “yes”, to the question, “Do I really need this?”

Don’t be afraid to ask the question.


I want you to promise me something.

I’m going to ask you a question in a moment. It’s one of the most important questions you’ll ever be asked, that you’ll ever ask yourself.

When I ask you this question — I want you to answer it quickly, yes or no. Don’t think too much about it. Whatever your mind and body hand you — that is your answer.

Are you ready?




“Are you happy?”



Well? How’d you do?

I asked myself this question this morning — as I have every morning for the past 2 months, my answer was yes.

Why am I happy? I’m doing what I love (writing). I’m no longer doing what made me unhappy — what I quit doing 6 weeks ago (Corporate Finance).

I have my health, my family, financial security. Everything is good. The only thing that held me back was my career, and so I did something about it.

To those of you who answered “no” to this question. Don’t dive in and overanalyze it yet. Just think — top of mind — why? Stay shallow with these types of thoughts for now. Diving deep can yield insights but it can also put our goggles on, blinding us to tough questions, allowing us to talk ourselves around the truth.

Shallow waters can be a source of much needed honesty. Note how my “Why am I happy?” explanations (above) were simple and top of mind. My answers to “Why am I unhappy?” months prior, were also simple — and the grounds for a change in my life.

Ask yourself if you are happy. Answer it. Then begin to assess and ask follow up questions,

“What is standing between me and happiness?”

“What gives me the most satisfaction in life?”

“What can I do today to change things for the better?”

Happiness is about making simple, sometimes difficult decisions that are based on the answer to these questions.

Finding the path to happiness isn’t nearly as difficult as choosing the path to happiness.


One: before you purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” and then listen to your response. Invest in quality. Don’t buy junk that ends up in your house or in your stomach because of emotion.

Saving money now will give you options later — to do things and have things that you really want.

Two: every day, take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I happy?” then do an assessment of what needs to change to make you happy.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the question.

And more importantly — don’t be afraid to answer.


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

Sean Kernan

Written by

*New to Medium* Columnist for Publishous. Quora Top Writer 2018. Quora People’s Choice Award 2017. — People say I’m nice. And my mom thinks I’m cool. —


Discover tomorrow’s bestsellers today. You'll say you knew them when.

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