It’s officially December, the last month of the year. During this time, we will reflect on what we have accomplished for the year. How many of your goals did you achieve? How many did you give up on too early? How many are you going to claim for 2020? How do you know which goals to strive for and which action plans to put into place? This is where it is important to understand what you really want your life to look like and what your current situation is. I’m talking physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and financially. You cannot effectively plan to improve your situation if you don’t know what your current situation is.
Some people believe that the only real reason for living is to see how much you can learn about yourself. In a sense, I agree with that. But I would take it a bit further. I believe there are lessons that we must learn in order to understand ourselves and our journeys. I believe that each one of us has greatness within and it is our duty to find that greatness and share it with the rest of the world.
The only way to find answers is to ask questions. Asking effective questions can help to facilitate your development as a human being. A good question is one that provides a useful answer and contributes to the development of an action plan. Poor questions create limitations and allow you to stay stuck where you are.
Ask yourself these questions to enhance your development:
- What is the most important skill I’m lacking? Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Our weaknesses are often responsible for limiting our personal growth and success. There are advantages to being well-rounded. When you look at your current situation, what skills could you develop that will have the greatest impact across all areas of your life? These are the skills you should work on first. You might be great with spreadsheets, but poor at meeting new people. Some of us are very persuasive while others have great creativity.
- What do you feel you’re lacking in your life? Which skill can most help you fill that void?
- How do I get in my own way? Do you ever sabotage your own efforts? It’s possible to fear success. After all, gaining something often means giving up something else. It’s not easy to examine this part of ourselves, but the benefit is immense. Think about each time you get close to achieving something, and then it seems to mysteriously fall apart at the end. What are the common themes that you notice when you look back at those times? What actions are you taking that could have had a negative impact on your success? What thoughts pop up right around the time that success would actually happen? This is very difficult to do, but if you can identify and change your actions you may be able to stop sabotaging yourself. Or at the very least, you can identify when you start self-sabotaging and fix it then.
If I could go back in time, what advice would I give my 18-year old self? This is one question my husband and I have talked about quite a few times over the years. Hindsight is 20/20, but the mistakes you’ve made in the past are probably still occurring. Think about the choices you think you should’ve made as an 18-year old. They will provide insight into your current situation. I am undoubtedly still fighting with myself over some of the decisions and bad habits that I developed back then. Being older and wiser, I have put some systems in place to avoid some of my most destructive habits (retail therapy anyone?) and I am always working on making improvements to those systems.
- What are my greatest strengths? Make a list of your greatest strengths. How can you apply them to your life? Our weaknesses might hold us back, but our strengths can determine how high we can rise. Think about your hobbies. What activities do you enjoy? What do you enjoy about them? Do you always get asked to organize the company picnic? Or to help someone decorate? These can be hints into your strengths.
- Ask your friends and family for their opinions, too. You might be surprised at what they see as your strength.
What am I able to control in my life? Worrying about things that are outside of your control is a waste of time. Focus on the aspects you’re able to influence. Apply your thoughts, time, and effort accordingly. This is very important to maintaining your sanity, especially as you start on a path of self-growth. Valuable time and energy are wasted on things you cannot control in your life.
- What do I want to stand for? How do you want to be thought of at the end of your life? Are you currently living in a manner that supports that vision? This makes me think of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. When Ebenezer Scrooge was shown his possible future, he was horrified at what people thought of him after his death. It was at that moment that he decided to make a change. He became the person he wanted to be known for at the end of his life. Yes, life will knock you down many times, but it’s how you get up and respond that makes the difference.
- Think about who you want to be, which could be quite different than what you want to be.
- If I could accomplish one great thing in my life, what would it be? You probably have several options for your life, and it’s not always easy to choose.
- Think about the one accomplishment that would mean the most to you. Then make a list of realistic steps you can take to achieve it. This is the start of your action plan. It doesn’t have to be clean or entirely realistic in your current situation but it does need to be actionable.
- What is the biggest limit I’ve imposed upon myself? It might be the belief that you’re not smart enough to finish college or socially astute enough to attract an amazing spouse. There’s a 99.999% chance you haven’t worked hard enough to accurately determine what your limits truly are.
- How can you set yourself free from this limit? Most of our limiting beliefs are completely false. Once you’ve identified your limiting belief, make a list of the reasons that it is false. Keep this somewhere easily accessible. You can come back to this when you start doubting yourself. It is similar to your gratitude journal. When you are having a rough day, use this to remind yourself of all the reasons why your limiting belief is false.
- Whom or what do I blame for my challenges? Sure, your parents made a lot of mistakes. Maybe your boss is a jerk. These are out of your sphere of influence (go back to #5). If you cannot control it, let it go. Easier said than done, I know. I’m still working through many of my own issues. But you can only change things where you have control. I believe our challenges are there to teach us lessons and to groom us to become the person we need to become to achieve the level of greatness that was bestowed upon us. When you blame others, you are giving them power over your life. Once you have identified the people that you blame for your challenges, forgive each one of them. This forgiveness does not mean that you have to allow them back into your life or to continue hurting you. It will allow you to move on and take back control of your life.
- Regardless of the source of your challenges, it’s your responsibility to deal with them. This knowledge is actually great news because now you see that you don’t have to rely on someone else in order to move forward!
Questions are a useful tool. The answers can give you greater insight and clarity. If you’re feeling lost or frustrated, utilize the power of questions to continue your self-growth journey. What questions do you ask yourself to help you determine your next steps?