Why “What’s the Point?” Is My Favorite Question to Ask
I went to a modern art museum once with a friend who was also an artist. We were looking at, what was for me, a particularly challenging piece of art that was just a giant white canvas with a square of black paint in the middle of it. I asked my friend, “Why would someone do this? What’s the point?” And her simple answer was, “Well, in some cases, just because they can.” In a strange way, that was a satisfying answer to my question.
What’s the point? I love asking that question. The benefits of “What’s the point?” are numerous. It’s a simple and effective way to get to the heart of every issue. It cuts out the noise and essentializes. However, I think if you ask that question of others, sometimes it can come off as somewhat rude. If you are given a task by a supervisor and you ask them “What’s the point?” you might not have that job for very long. If your partner asks you about your relationship’s future over a romantic dinner and you respond with “What’s the point?” you might get a glass of chardonnay in the face.
No, you need to be judicious when you ask, “What’s the point?” In fact, I would suggest that the best person to ask “What’s the point?” to – repeatedly and intentionally – is you. I’m not suggesting that this question should be asked from a place of futility: you’re not throwing your hands up and saying, “Oh what’s the point?!” Instead, this question is a launching pad for self-assessment. For being honest with yourself about how you spend your time and what value you get out of what you do on a daily basis.
Why ask this particular question? Because life is short! We have a limited time here on Earth to do what we want to do, so constantly assessing the point of it all, being honest, and then doing something about it, is critical to success and overall happiness.
There are four places in life where I ask myself “What’s the point?” all the time. While these aren’t the only areas where you can ask this question, they are a great start. I encourage you to ask yourself:
1. What is the point… of my work?
When I started my company, I began with the simple goal of helping people to amplify their voices on social media. Giving our customers a platform to share their stories, services, and ideas is our central goal. However, I constantly need to reassess that goal and ask if we – especially me – are staying focused on that mission. In Good To Great, Jim Collins encourages business leaders to reflect on their company’s core competency and focus relentlessly on that one thing.
To become great in that one objective is the point. Since most of us spend at least 40 hours a week at work, we should always ask ourselves, what’s the point? If it’s “to make money” or “to put food on the table,” those are valid reasons, but is that enough for you to feel fulfilled? Is work giving you what you need? Does it have a purpose beyond mere survival?
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” – Galileo Galilei
2. What is the point… of my hobbies?
While I used to dance professionally, hip-hop dance continues to be a passionate hobby of mine. What’s the point of a hobby? For me, it’s a chance to get away from it all. Dance provides me an opportunity to disconnect from the day-to-day stresses of life. It allows me to express myself and use my body in a way that sitting at a computer all day cannot. Psychologists agree that hobbies are important for a balanced, well-lived life. What is the point of your hobbies?
Do you have a hobby? Let’s start there. If you don’t have a hobby and the reason is “because I don’t have time.” then you should return to the question above. Even if you do have a hobby, you should continue to self-assess. Does your hobby still provide you with joy? Relaxation? Or has your hobby become a habit you’re afraid to break? Only you know the answer, but you have to start by asking the question.
3. What is the point… of my relationships?
This is probably the toughest question to ask, because it obviously can affect some important connections you have in life. However, it’s always important to ask. Friendships can become stale and past their expiration date. Romantic relationships can become toxic. Is it time to Marie Kondo some of your relationships and ask if they still spark joy? Friendships/relationships that bring you joy are the ones you keep, but if you are looking at interactions with a particular person and asking repeatedly, “What’s the point?” Then perhaps it’s time to let that person leave your life. Again, I know this is challenging, but remember that the ultimate goal is to be honest with yourself about what’s important to you.
4. What is the point… of life?
I’m a big lover of life – I can’t help it. Success to me is simply being able to do what I love every single moment of the day and helping others that I love and care about. People are more important than things. I look in the mirror at the end of every day and ask myself if I followed through on actions that allowed me to continue doing what I love. What was the point of today? That little self-assessment at the end of the day gives me the energy to get up the next morning and do it all over again. String a bunch of those little self-assessments, those “What’s the point?” mirror talks together, and you start to put together for yourself a life well lived.
What’s the point for you?