When was the last time you sat down and answered some important questions about your life?
Better yet, when did those answers ever really help you come to some breakthroughs?
If it’s been a while, don’t worry. Chances are, you’re not alone.
Questions are the most important and effective tool you have in your personal development arsenal, but asking the right ones will make all the difference in the outcome.
But how do you know which questions are the “right” questions?
Simple! They’re the questions that you frequently avoid or answer with “I don’t know.” These are the questions that force you to actually put some time, effort, and emotion into discovering the answer. Lucky for you, I’m feeling generous so I’ll start you off with 5 of the most important questions you must ask yourself to live a full life.
Question 1: What do I really want?
This is the most simple and straightforward question that most people miss or avoid. It’s very easy to say we don’t know what we want out of life or to come up with a 5-word generic answer such as “I want to be happy” that doesn’t really speak to us on a deep level.
When I work with any of my clients, we get crystal clear on what they want out of life. And this usually takes a good thirty minutes to discover the real answer. The reason is because we like to stay safe in our answers and answer with what we think should be the correct desire.
I challenge you to answer the question “What do I want?” with an answer that’s geared toward the “What do I really want?” question.
Need more help understanding that? Here’s a sample.
Q: What do I want?
A: I want to be happy
Q: What do I really want?
A: I really want to be able to live my life without worrying about what other people think of me and spend more time enjoying my life in the way I want to live it.
Notice how one word added to the question elicits a completely different answer? Which answer would actually give our imaginary friend here some clarity on what they’re really after in this life?
Question 2: What does this mean to me?
As humans, we are meaning-making-machines. We assign meaning to every single thing that happens to us on a daily basis.
Spilled our morning coffee? We’re going to have a bad day now.
Missed call from a random number? It must be a sales call.
That waitress I gave my number to never called me. She must think I’m ugly.
A guy honked at me in traffic. He’s just an asshole and needs to relax.
See all the meaning we gave these events? We do this almost automatically as our day unfolds.
Unfortunately, most of the meanings we assign to events are negative and thus set our mindset for the forseeable future.
In order to take full control of your life, you must start asking yourself, “What does this mean to me?” when actions begin unfolding. When you can start choosing the meaning you give an event, you will give yourself the ability to also choose how you want to feel about the event. This is real power.
If you can give an event a new meaning that can empower you to rise to great heights, you will unlock an ability that most people never encounter.
This is why some people suffer after a losing a limb and others have books written about their accomplishments as a para-olympian. Fulfillment lies in the meaning we give to our life and the events therein.
Question 3: Who am I at my core?
Arguably the most important question of the five, this question requires you to get as deep as you possibly can.
We operate in two modes: operational and core.
Our operational self is utilized to get through daily life and shoulder all the responsibilities we have on a day to day basis. This also happens to be the version of ourselves that gets easily frustrated, feels very insecure, lets negative thought patterns persist, etc.
Basically, our operational self is how we’ve learned to cope with our world. The only problem here is if your operational self is drastically different than your core self then you’re going to feel…….well, shitty.
Who you are at your core is who you know yourself to be when no one else is watching. When you don’t have to put on a show and you finally allow yourself to be you, you are tapping into your core energy.
Have you ever had a period of time where things seemed to be going oddly well for you at all times and life was really easy to live with? A time where it felt like you were consistently growing and you were actually really happy to be you?
I’d bet you were tapping into your core in this timeframe.
To answer this question, take some time to determine who you really are deep down. What makes you feel good as a person? What do you know inherently that your life is about? Is it courage? Is it love? Is it contribution?
Dig deep and align with your most innate intuition as to who you know yourself to be and you will start to see an almost immediate change in your psychology.
Question 4: Why am I doing this?
I’d like to first point out here that this question is not meant to be asked sarcastically or in a negative fashion. Determining your why is a very important aspect to getting what you want out of life.
When you have a really strong reason for doing something, you will always find a way. The math on this equation is very straightforward.
However, most of us never really develop a strong reason for why we do what we do. We put our lives on autopilot and just accept life for how it is.
You see this often with people that hate their jobs or stay way too long in a poor relationship. These people lose sight of why they got into these positions in the first place and are now just existing.
When you don’t have a strong why for your choices, you will settle for low-lying fruit and a low level of fulfillment. It also makes it very easy to give up when you have nothing motivating you to endure the hardships that this life will test you with.
Think of when a mother is giving birth. She doesn’t know the exact way in which the baby will come out or how she’s actually going to do it. All she has is an unbreakable reason why she must do this. If she didn’t have this why, she might have given up the baby a long time ago or do the bare minimum to give birth to her child, possibly resulting in its own death.
Your why is what will help you accomplish goals in life and grow in times when you don’t know what to do or where to go. Once the why has been established, the how is easy.
Question 5: How am I growing?
I recommend asking yourself this question every single day. Now at first, you may want to start slow until you really understand what growth is. So maybe you’re looking at asking once per month, then once per week, and so on.
I will put this simply: If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Maybe you’re not dying physically, but you’re dying emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc.
In order to live a truly full life, we need to prioritize our own growth and development. That’s what makes the journey fun in this world.
Growth is subjective to every individual, so don’t compare your own growth to someone else’s. Some people advance very rapidly in life and others take longer. That’s fine, just focus on your own development and all growth will feel important.
In order to grow, you must act differently at times. You must leave your comfort zone and push for opportunities that seem out of reach. You must challenge your own beliefs about what is possible for you. Most importantly, you must learn continuously.
If you ask yourself these questions very frequently, preferably daily, I can almost promise you a different and more encouraging outlook on life.