“To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.” ~Sam Keen
One of the most valuable tools I use as a career and personal coach is questioning.
A probing question presented at the right time can help a client reach that “ah ha” moment when the pieces fall into place for them. Coaches ask lots of questions, which might seem like an inquisition. But the purpose is not to satisfy the coach's curiosity or put the client on the spot. It's to have the client dig deep to uncover the answer or solution for themselves.
Often I'll ask the client a question and sit quietly waiting for a reply. The silence is awkward, and to fill the uncomfortable gap, the client might answer, “I just don't know.” I always follow-up with, “Yes you do.” And they usually do. The answer is there all the time.
Most people don't have the time or inclination to ask themselves penetrating questions. In fact, it can be pretty uncomfortable when you start poking around your psyche and looking underneath the gauzy surface. There are some questions that expose wounds too raw to mend without the support of a trained counselor.
However, there are many questions that reveal the uncharted territory of your nature and motivations.
Once you rummage deeper into these unexamined areas, you can find gems and sometimes goldmines that lead to profound changes or simply daily improvements or redirection. Of course, I suggest that working with a coach is the most efficient way to learn about yourself and how to reach your dreams.
But you can still coach yourself with powerful questions that serve as reminders of what's really important and meaningful to you.
Here are some powerful questions to ask yourself throughout the day:
1. Who am I? This is the mother-lode of all questions. It's not a question you answer by saying, “I'm a lawyer” or “I'm a mom.” It's a question that invites deeper responses, like here's what I value, here's what brings me joy, here's what motivates me, here's the way I want to live my life. Your answers to this may mutate over time. That's why it's important to ask this question of yourself frequently.
2. How do I want to create my day? This is a great question to start your day. Instead of being in a reaction mode, start the day off as a creator. Use this question to plan how you want your day to feel and what you want to accomplish. Consciously push aside situations that will cause you to react and instead charge ahead with creating what you want.
3. What should I be doing right now? Sometimes we lose focus during the day. We need to pull ourselves back on track or prioritize what needs to happen first so we aren't scattered and reactive.
4. How am I feeling? Take a read on how you are feeling throughout the day. Are you tired? Unmotivated? Rushed? Energized? Your feelings can impact what you are doing and how well you do it. With awareness, feelings often can be changed. Sometimes just shifting your thoughts will change the feeling.
5. Why am I feeling this way? You need to figure this out so you can try to change the feeling or adapt your daily activities if you can't change it. If you are sick or haven't slept well, you may need to adjust how you create your day. If you are unmotivated or depleted, ask your intuitive self the reason why. What thought or belief is contributing to this feeling? Once you pinpoint it, your rational mind can help you sort it out and the feelings resolve.
6. How am I getting in my own way today? Sometimes our limiting beliefs, our fears, and the cycle of worries that occupy our minds tether us to mediocrity. What are you doing to block your own growth and potential? You may not be ready or able to address these issues at the moment, but bringing them to your conscious awareness plants the seeds for future personal development.
7. How can I be of service? I include this question because the mindset of serving others provides a plethora of growth opportunities. Serving others, through your work or otherwise, makes you feel happy and purposeful. It supports a universal value, and I'd go so far as to say there's some good Karma involved. That's not the reason to serve, but it seems to be true all the same.
8. Have I lived this day according to who I am? At the end of your day, ask yourself this question. Were the actions and the tenor of your day in alignment with your authentic self? Did your words and actions reflect your values and goals? Did you feel joy and purpose in your day? If not, identify where you faltered and how you might fix it for tomorrow.
9. What do I need to know? I ask this question of myself at night before I go to sleep. I don't know exactly who is answering the question, but I always get an answer. Maybe it's my intuition luring to the surface the information my mind and soul need to ponder. I like this question because it draws on the wisdom and deep knowledge that we all possess.
So here's my final question for you: will you ask the questions of yourself? The answers might change your day — or your life!