As students, we are taught to use questions as part of learning the skill of research and analysis.
In fact, there’s even a Wikipedia page on the “Five Ws.”
Most of us are familiar with these questions, in a certain order: who, what, where, when, why…and how.
Outside of our studies/work, however, most of us use these questions against ourselves:
- Who…am I, should I be, is watching me (and are they judging me)?
- What…is wrong with me, went wrong in the past, or will go wrong in the future?
- Where…did I go wrong, will this lead?
- When…did it start, will it stop, will I be able to finally relax?
- Why…is this happening, can’t I get this right, can’t I figure this out, are they like that, am I like this?
- HOW!? I need to know how NOW!
These questions rarely engage excellence in problem solving and they aren’t great for your relationship with yourself and others, either.
The two question words that show up most commonly in my coaching practice are “why” and “how.” These can be amazing questions, yet most people are not exploring “why” and “how” to their fullest potential.
We are often conditioned that asking “why” about our past will reveal a path forward.
Your past may be informative, even instructive, and yet your decisions are made from your present self for your future, no past input required. Using the past to decide what’s possible for you can be limiting.
And, of course, a lot of people want something or someone outside themselves to tell them “how.”
They want a certain recipe for success.
They want to know how the movie ends before they watch it.
With movies, we generally don’t like when someone reveals the twists, turns and endings…
And yet we want someone to take the responsibility for our “how” to avoid discomfort in our lives.
But your life doesn’t have a recipe. It’s thousands of opportunities to choose each day for all the days of your life.
So…what’s the alternative to these limiting, confusion and frustration and self-judgment inducing questions?
Consider these questions:
- Who…do I want to be in the story of my life?
- What…do I want to create with my life this year, or in 3 years, or in 10 years?
- Where…can I create this? Where…does this choice lead?
- Why…do I want to do this?
- How…will I know I’m on track? How…can I enjoy the journey? How…can I show up for the relationship with myself and my life with this choice?
- When… Use “when” if it serves the other questions or helps set a target for something you’d like to create.
A great way to ask better questions is to connect with who you want to become.
Imagine a version of you that you’d be so happy to meet.
This is a version of you that you are proud of and you feel so excited about what they’ve done.
Try to avoid letting your mind go into “will never happen” or “when” thinking.
Just connect with a version of you that makes you say “hell, yeah!”
Interview that person.
- Who are they?
- What have they created?
- Where are they headed in the future?
- Why do they make the choices they make?
- How were they able to accomplish the things they are most proud of?
- And…for the when question… When can you talk to that supportive, loving future self again?
Note that this amazing future version of you is a real person…if you literally create them from the thoughts you think today and the actions you take now.
Use questions – better questions – to tap into this vision and then connect to what you can do right now…today.
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