8 Life-Changing Questions to Ask Before You Turn 18

One of the classes that’s missing from high school is Success 101—a class that teaches you how to be a happy, fulfilled, and successful adult.

It’s a class that doesn’t exist because most adults don’t have those things figured out. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

by Rion MartinLast updated: 04/29/2020

Below are 8 questions to start asking before you turn 18 that will increase your chances of success—and more importantly, happiness.

If you can answer all of them at 18, you’re a unicorn. If you can’t, don’t worry. Write them down, keep them in the back of your mind, and come back to them often. 

1. What’s one activity that makes you lose track of time?

There’s this thing called flow state, and it’s one of the most powerful mental states you can be in. Time and distractions seem to disappear. 

But this isn’t a passive thing, like scrolling through social media or watching YouTube. Flow state is an active process. 

It might happen when you’re playing sports, playing an instrument, writing, building things, volunteering, programming, or drawing. 

If you can’t think of anything you’ve tried that puts you in this state, try as many things as possible until you find something that does. This will help you figure out one of two things: 

  1. A possible career path that you may be good at and enjoy
  2. If not a career, a hobby that will bring you fulfillment for the rest of your life
Takeaway - Doing things you love is the key to happiness and fulfillment. If you’re lucky, you can make a career out of whatever that is.

2. What do you want to be remembered for?

Finding your purpose is the ultimate life hack. It acts as a reference point for decision making, gives you a clear path, and provides you with strength, courage, and energy.

One of the best ways to find your purpose in life is to work backward. Ask yourself, “What are three things I would want to be remembered for?” 

Think about the things that overwhelm you with anger, sadness, or happiness. Is there anything that keeps you up at night? Is there something about the world you feel must change?

For me, these things are:

  1. The failures of our current education system
  2. An increasingly dirty and polluted environment
  3. The terrible way we treat the animals that become our food
Tip: Make your list and then narrow in on the one that you feel most strongly about OR that you believe you can impact. This will become your purpose and what you will be remembered for.

3. What topic could you talk about for an hour (with passion)?

It could be anything. Sneakers, music, dogs, space, fashion, woodworking, makeup, computers… anything. Doesn’t matter what it is, just be passionate and informed.

If you’re a Jack or Jill of many interests—meaning you known a little about a lot of things—figure out what one thing you like best and double down on that.

Tip: It is (really) valuable to be well-rounded, but ultimately fortune usually favors people who are known for being great at a specific thing.

4. Are you surrounded by people who make you the best version of yourself?

Your friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, teachers, coaches, and role models all influence your well-being, how hard you push yourself, and ultimately what you achieve.

Think about the people you spend the most time with. Do they have a positive attitude? Do they support and believe in you? Do they challenge you? Do they make you dream big?

Or… Do they have a negative attitude? Do they put you and your dreams down? Do they think small? Do they encourage you to be lazy and settle?

The first group of people will make you the best version of yourself. The second group of people will drag you down and are the types of people you should cut out of your life.

Takeaway: Cutting people out of your life is a difficult thing to do in high school, but becomes increasingly important to your success and happiness as you get older.

5. Who inspires you (and why)?

We all need people to look up to. People who have done what we want to do. People who have the character, personality, or integrity that we admire. People who inspire us.

It doesn’t matter if they are a parent, friend, teacher, business person, celebrity, or athlete. What matters is that they provide an example to follow.

This is very different from someone who is simply your favorite comedian, athlete, or celebrity. This person is someone you are in awe of that makes you want to be better.

Identify those people and more importantly, write down why they inspire you.

6. What are three things you take for granted?

This is a check on your ego. Don’t mistake ego for confidence. They are not the same thing. Arrogance and ego not only make you less likable but also cloud your judgment. 

We all have our moments. Unfortunately, those moments can leave a lasting impression. Trust and respect are two of the hardest things to earn and easiest things to lose. 

One of the easiest ways to reign in arrogance is to reflect on what you take for granted. No matter your circumstances, there are likely things you take for granted. 

Were you born with a rare talent? Do you come from a privileged background? Are you surrounded by incredible people? Do you have access to clean water?

Tip: When you’re feeling judgemental or superior, reflect on what you take for granted. The people around you might have the same things you have. When you remind yourself of this, it often checks your ego.

7. What are three things you are grateful for?

Understanding what you’re grateful for can lift you up when you are feeling down and give you strength when you’re feeling weak. This is the positive spin on what you take for granted. 

You stop taking things for granted when you recognize their positive impact on your life and express gratitude for them. 

Reminding yourself of three things you are grateful for can have a profoundly positive effect on your mood and relationships. 

Insight: Some of the most successful people in the world—including Oprah and Rihana—remind themselves of what they’re grateful for every morning.

8. Are you comfortable in your own skin?

This is the hardest question on the list. Many people struggle with being comfortable in their own skin for their entire lives. 

If at 18, you already feel comfortable with yourself you’ve overcome one of life’s greatest obstacles. If you’re not, have no fear. We’re all a work in progress.

Insight: Everyone around you has their own insecurities, fears, and struggles. The more comfortable you can become with your personality, abilities, and weaknesses the less time and energy you will spend worrying, doubting, and feeling uneasy.

What to do next

It’s cliche, but the best things in life are rarely easy. These questions should be difficult to answer. Each one has elements that might take your whole life to master. And that’s ok.

The more you work on figuring out answers to the questions above, the more likely you will have the self-awareness, purpose, tools, and relationships to be happy and successful.