The Value of Asking the Right Questions

By Jimmy Warden

The personal growth conundrum

Uncertainty about ourselves leads to anxiety and depression
Uncertainty about ourselves leads to anxiety and depression

Everyone wants to be better, but not everyone knows how. This is a giant barrier between us and our personal growth. We usually know what we want to improve about ourselves, which is a great start, but other times we have no clue where to begin. Wherever we are in our self-development journey, we need to ensure we’re asking ourselves the right questions. Asking the right questions opens up doors of awareness we didn’t know were there.

Why questions are important

When we think of what personal development entails, society has told us we need to set goals to improve ourselves. This can be a crucial step in our growth process, but it doesn’t always work for everyone because there can be a lack of explicit actions to take. This is a big reason why questions are helpful.

Asking ourselves the right questions leads to creating insights in our mind’s eye that we’ve never had before. The number of doors that get opened by the right questions is mesmerizing. Here are a few questions that I’ve asked myself during my own personal growth journey that led to some profound insights:

A tweet from my Twitter account, @WardensWisdom, about self-awareness questions.
A tweet from my Twitter account, @WardensWisdom, about self-awareness questions

These questions opened my mind to thoughts and behaviors I wasn’t aware of. One insight was realizing I don’t have enough specificity in my action plans. Sure, I have to-do lists, but they aren’t always specific, and that lack of specificity has led to accomplishing less. This is because our brains need to know where and when to engage in a task and how long it’s going to last. Instead of putting read on my to-do list, I’ve started putting read for 10 minutes before bed.

Another insight I had was recognizing I wasn’t doing as much with my website as I knew I could. The reason for this was that I have been spending too much time with mindless activities; the main one being scrolling on social media. To rectify this, I’ve tried to replace the time I’ve been spending on my phone with time in my office, working on the website. Has it been perfect? No, but it’s been getting better. I’ve been publishing more blog posts, I’ve started a newsletter, and I’ve come out with a couple of podcasts as well. This has helped me get out of that feeling of stagnation that results from being on autopilot too much.

Autopilot
Autopilot

We spend so much of our days on autopilot because of the amount of habitual thought and behavior patterns we have. This is another reason why questions are so important. Because we’re unaware of a lot of our thoughts and habits – at least when we’re engaging in them or get triggered to engage in them – it’s hard to recognize when we’re falling short of our potential. If we want to start becoming more aware of why we think and act the way we do, we need to start asking ourselves the right questions.

What are the right questions to ask?

The right questions for each person is different.
The right questions for each person is different

The right questions to ask all depend on the person asking the questions. My questions will be different than your questions, and your questions will be different than someone else’s. It all depends on what you’re trying to improve about yourself. If you’re concerned about your nutrition, start there. Ask yourself: “Am I eating as many nutritious meals as I should be?” If you’re more concerned about your emotional regulation at work, start there. Ask yourself: “Why am I getting so frustrated at work?” If you want to change your negative thought patterns, start there. Ask yourself: “What triggers me to think negatively?” Those questions will stimulate responses that will give you more information about your behavior and thinking. If you don’t know how to start your reflection, my list of questions is a great starting point for cultivating more self-awareness. Asking ourselves where we’re falling short brings forth new thoughts and thoughts we might have had already.

Listening to ourselves

Listen to yourself, and you'll improve yourself
Listen to yourself, and you’ll improve yourself

The most important part of the self-reflection process is listening. We hear the answers given to us by our inner dialogue, but if we carry on with our lives in the same way, we aren’t listening to ourselves because we aren’t changing our behavior. When we don’t listen, we can’t change, and not changing means we’re staying the same.

When we listen, we’re giving ourselves a chance to be a better version of ourselves, and that’s the whole point of self-reflection. We reflect to grow, and when we grow, we evolve.

Call to action

So brainstorm some questions today if you’re looking to improve yourself. Ask the questions, wait, and listen to the soul of your best self. It knows what you’re capable of. When you receive answers, write them down, and more importantly, take action.

You never know where you could end up.

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