The power of asking yourself questions

The power of asking yourself questions

The Power of Asking Yourself Questions

[Time to read: 5 minutes]

“What if…?” – Just two words but the answer to this question could change your world!

Questions form a daily part of life and business. We ask other people questions frequently.

We ask questions to collect information: to understand, to learn, and to help solve problems.

Being mindful of the questions you ask other people can make a huge difference to your life, business and career.

Many years ago, back in my IT sales role I noticed that I often asked clients ‘closed’ questions – these are questions that invite a “yes” or “no” answer.

For example, “Are you ready to start the project?”. The answer to this question provided me with limited information – typically just a “yes” or “no”. A more helpful question would have been “When will you start the project?” or “What needs to be in place before you start the project?”.

These questions are examples of ‘open’ questions which do not invite a “yes” or “no” answer. ‘Open’ questions tend to be higher quality questions because they provide more useful information. From that point I increased my use of them!

Asking Yourself Questions

We don’t go through life just asking other people questions, we also ask ourselves questions.

We do this when we think. Thinking includes asking ourselves questions. These questions help us to evaluate, compare and measure.

For example – we may evaluate our situation, compare ourselves to others and so on. Many of these thoughts can be on ‘autopilot’- they can be habitual thoughts – and research suggests on average we have 60,000 thoughts every day!

When we ask ourselves (think) a poor-quality question, we get a poor-quality answer. This contributes to lowering our mood and if we get into a habit of asking (thinking) poor quality questions – this can create a negative mindset.

Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, "What else could this mean?”

Shannon L. Alder

For example, the typical response to asking: “Why do I always mess up?” is “Because you’re an idiot!”.

When you ask yourself a question, you are giving a command to your brain to come up with an answer.

Your brain will search for the most likely response, which typically is linked to the type of question you ask. This question is actually stating: “…I always mess up”.

The answer you receive: “Because you’re an idiot” is often a habitual response – and you’ll probably receive the response almost immediately because you are on ‘autopilot’.

Imagine how many of your 60,000 daily thoughts could be both habitual and unhelpful?

Using Powerful Questions

Higher quality questions that really make you think are also called ‘Powerful Questions’. Powerful questions are an important component of Coaching.

When a Coach asks their client a powerful question (at the right time) – this can provide the client with new insights into their situation.

This is because they have to think differently to answer the powerful question – this can break habitual negative thinking.

Powerful questions can help the client to:

  • look at their situation from a different perspective
  • challenge their limiting belief
  • find a new solution to a problem
  • find a way forward

You don’t have to be in a coaching session to experience Powerful Questions. You just need to know how to ask yourself them. Here are a few tips:

  • Say it – rather than just thinking the question – ask it aloud.
  • Be mindful of using “Why?” questions – e.g. “Why do I have to do this?” as the answers aren’t typically helpful.
  • Be mindful of when you ask ‘closed’ questions. These tend to start with “Is…” or “Do…” or “Have…”. e.g. “Do I have to do this?”
  • Ask ‘open’ questions – start your questions with “What…”, “How…”, “When…” or “Who…” e.g. “How could I do this differently?” as this will give you a more helpful answer – something you can actually work with.
  • When you ask yourself the question, pause, perhaps close your eyes and try to visualize or ‘feel’ the answer. Note – it helps to be patient as sometimes the answer may not come to you until later in the day or later in the week.

Making it a Habit

How can you get into the habit of asking yourself powerful questions?

…by using morning questions.

Asking yourself just one powerful question first thing in the morning can help contribute to a great day, as your brain will search for a high-quality response to the high-quality question that you ask.

The answer you receive can help to get your day off to a great start!

Here are some example powerful morning questions:

  • What can I do today to have a great day?
  • How will my life be better today?
  • What can I do today to make a difference to someone else’s life?
  • What can I do now to stop worrying about X [insert your problem/challenge here]?
  • What can I do today to resolve X [insert your problem/challenge here] that I’ve not thought of before?
  • How can I make a positive contribution to the meeting today?
  • How will I do things differently today?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • What if I did things differently today?
  • What if I stopped worrying about this right now?
  • What else could this mean?

Of course, you can create your own powerful questions as well.

Why not ask yourself one question each morning for the next 30 days and see what happens?

You might just change your life!

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, please comment and share.

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Are you working too hard?

Are you working too hard

Are you working too hard?

[Time to read: 3 minutes]

…It’s a good question.

 

How do you really know when you are working too hard?

This problem has come up for me a few times over the years. To be honest, I found it difficult to become aware of when I was working too hard. For me, often I was too far into my work to realise that I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’ and was ‘burning myself out’!

So, what are the symptoms of working too hard?

In my case, I experienced lack of sleep, higher levels of stress and being more susceptible to ‘man flu’!

Below are other typical symptoms of working too hard, where you could be heading towards burn-out:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of focus on tasks
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Stress
  • Arguments
  • Forgetfulness

Although these symptoms may seem minor, these can develop into more serious conditions such as very high stress, overwhelm, anxiety, physical & mental exhaustion and even depression.

What can you do to prevent burn-out?

One way is to check-in with yourself every day: Ask yourself “How am I?” – if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, you may be heading towards burn-out.

If this is the case, here is a 4-step strategy you can use to help:

1. Slow down

The chances are you are rushing around. Start by breathing slowly and deeply. The benefit of deep breathing should never be underestimated. Can you slow things down further by giving yourself more time to complete the tasks you are working on?

2. Use the 4 D’s of effective Time Management 

You may have too many tasks. If you have, then it’s time to review the tasks you have and make a decision on what to do with each of them. The 4 D’s of effective Time Management will help you to evaluate the importance and urgency of each task and decide what to do. For each task decide to do one of the following:

  • DO IT – if it’s important and urgent – then do it.
  • DELETE IT – if it’s not important or urgent then consider declining or cancelling the task.
  • DEFER IT – if it’s important but not urgent, consider deferring the task to a later date.
  • DELEGATE IT – if you are still left with too many tasks, consider delegating the task to another team member, or ask your manager for assistance.

The decision on some of the tasks may need to be made by someone else in the business – if this is the case, ask them for assistance.

For more information on the 4 D’s CLICK HERE to read the Forbes article.

3. Focus – try to avoid multi-tasking – you may like to multi-task, but your brain doesn’t. 

We’ve all tried it: texting while walking, sending emails during meetings, jumping from one task to another. Today, doing just one thing at a time is often seen as slow. 

However, studies estimate that switching between tasks can cause a 40% loss in productivity. Multi-tasking can also cause you to introduce errors into whatever you’re working on, especially if one or more of your activities involves a lot of critical thinking. 

So, avoid multi-tasking and be more productive by doing (and finishing) one thing at a time!

4. Look after yourself – Do something to look after your mental and physical health. Below are some options for you to consider:

  • MEDITATION – meditating daily can significantly improve your well-being. Search for free guided meditations on YouTube or join a Yoga class.
  • DRINK WATER – many people still don’t drink enough water. You may be de-hydrated. Being de-hydrated has a negative effect on your well-being. “In 2010, a report from The European Food Safety Authority suggested that the minimum levels of water consumption should be 2 litres for men and 1.6 litres for women, or between eight and ten glasses. For men, their daily requirement of two litres of water is equivalent to just over three and a half pints. For women, their recommended intake of 1.6 litres of water is the equivalent of just under three pints.” – CLICK HERE for the original article from the Independent.
  • RESEARCH WELL-BEING STRATEGIES – Try searching on-line for ways you can improve your well-being. To start with you could download my free eBook ‘The Stress Management Guide for Business Leaders’. In this eBook I share my ‘7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier Business Life’, which provides some additional strategies on improving your well-being. CLICK HERE to download it.
  • GET HELP – if you are still struggling then it may be time to seek help. Perhaps from your manager, friends, family or a professional such as a GP.

Conclusion

Working on a lower number of tasks can achieve more because the focus on each task is sharper and the output from this typically produces higher quality results. Combining this with checking in with yourself regularly and looking after yourself helps improve your performance with the business.

Ultimately working effectively, getting results and being healthy is a balance. It’s being aware of this that’s the key.

I hope you found this helpful.

If you did, please comment and share.

Subscribe to my blog

If you’ve not already subscribed to my blog, and you’d like to receive more tips and strategies on how to create success in Business and Life, click the button below:

Would You Like to be UNSTOPPABLE in Your Business and Life?

Book a free, no obligation ‘Discovery’ call with me.

During this call you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • EXPLORE the biggest challenge that you are facing right now

  • DISCOVER what you REALLY want out of your Business and Life

  • EXPOSE possible futures for you and your Business

  • EXPERIENCE coaching

Click the button below to book your ‘Discovery’ call: