That’s a question I frequently ask myself and my clients.
But early in my career … not so much. At least, not until a six-foot-two-inch, ramrod-back, crew-cut, retired Marine stood at the front of the room and asked everyone there … what do you need to change to create more of what you want in your life?
I was still in the CPA phase of my life, working in the Los Angeles office of Coopers & Lybrand, one of the largest CPA firms in the world. That day, I was in a firm-sponsored one-day personal-growth seminar.
Gigantic CPA firm + retired Marine would not have led one to expect a seminar on happiness and personal change back then. Not even in LA!
I still wonder if the firm knew what they were signing up for. In the years I worked there, this was the only program even remotely like this. But whether intentional or not, I’m forever grateful.
Because that day was my first experience with how the questions you ask yourself can change your world.
With a jolt (literally), the light bulb came on. I only control me: my choices, my mindset, my goals, my reactions, my experiences. I could spend my energy hoping other people would change and the universe would magically make my life perfect (hah!), or I could work on myself.
All these years later, the memory of that seismic shift is still crystal clear.
The questions you ask make the difference between:
- Reaching your goals … or not.
- Creating the experience you want … or not.
- Living your intention … or not.
- Changing a habit, behavior, mindset … or not.
- Being successful in ways that make you happy … or not.
- Living your day the way you want to live your life … or not.
Are you thinking, “Seriously, that much impact from a few questions?!”
The right questions have the effect of knock-knock-knocking on your brain and gut. They shake you out of ruts, wake you up, shine a light on your opportunities, and help you see things differently.
The right questions are potent.
Ask yourself these five questions on a daily basis and create more of what you want in your life.
- What am I working towards?
If this question just triggered a GAK, I DON’T KNOW! That’s why I’m stuck!! reaction, breathe. You don’t need a big vision or existential answer :-).
Running a 10-K, feeling less stressed, becoming a more effective leader, learning to be more present, deciding on your next professional step, cultivating more patience – these are all examples of working towards something.
If you don’t have an immediate answer, give yourself a few days to sit with the question. On the other hand, if multiple answers come up, choose one to start with. And then every day, remind yourself what you’re working towards by asking the question.
- Which of today’s choices aligned with what I’m working towards and which ones didn’t’?
Please don’t turn your out-of-alignment choices into a stick to beat yourself with!
The only reason for this question is to increase your awareness of what choices you’re making. Both sets of choices – the ones that aligned and the ones that didn’t – give you valuable information.
- What worked well that I can build on?
Keep doing what’s working! But before you can do that, you need to know what “that” is. Ergo, the question.
- What will I do differently tomorrow?
Remember those out-of-alignment choices from question #2? This is why they’re valuable: they give you the data you need to choose to do things differently tomorrow, the next day, and however many days of practice you need.
- How will I be kind to myself today?
Small daily acts of self-kindness make you feel good. And when you feel good, it’s much easier to make choices that align with where you want to go.
So ask your questions and listen to the answers. And then act on the information. It’s a powerful way to create more of what you want in your life.
“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” ~ Leo Babauta