Productivity Coach’s Corner: Questions to Ask (Yourself)

Somehow, some way, we have to knock the trajectory of our current actions a little to the right or left. You know the lane you’re in; now what do you need to do to move things in a new(er) direction?

Here we are halfway through the year and change is as ever the constant. How about you—are you changing? Look around externally and internally, and you’ll remember the questions you asked that got you “here.” Questions that may need new answers if you’re going to get “there.”

Of course, your answers are relative. It would help if you had a personalized understanding of where you “were” and a (somewhat) clear intention of what “there” means to you now. How subjective are your responses to the questions below? And what could happen if you answered them anew? Reflect on the next half of this year as you consider these queries:

  1. Who am I? This question has tripped up more than one leader I’ve coached. As I work with people who pass through life (and work) transitions, they change. There are many ways to answer this question, from meeting with a counselor or therapist, taking a(nother) personality assessment, or simply opening a new page in a journal and answering that question over the following two to five pages. However you do it, give yourself the gift of your attention and answer that question. Regularly. Every time things change around you.
  2. What do I want (to be, do, and have)? Too many people walk around sharing less than their truth. Internally, they have ideas about what could be, but under the guise of being humble and not wanting to stand out, they hesitate to share, even withholding from their friends, family, and colleagues. That question—three questions in one, really—easily deserves a large chunk of your focus. It’ll probably take you a few sessions (pages?) to fully explore that second question. I challenge you to do a round or two on your own and then sit down with someone who knows (and loves!) you as you answer that prompt. Let your responses be fluid, let yourself dream bigger, and hope for more. What—really—do you want?
  3. How will you get it? I have no doubt that you caught the setup to that third question. I had to ask you, right? Our brains can only stay away from closing the gap for so long before we start thinking of solutions to problems, for answers to questions that put us on a path to action.

If we give ourselves the chance to wonder, our brains will wander.

For several reasons, this is a problematic question to answer. Looking in the mirror, having identified who you are and what you want, it can be hard to face yourself. Even though it’s hard, you must.

Challenges to Overcome

First, is inertia. Oh, it is easy to let things go the way they’ve gone. Somehow, some way, we have to knock the trajectory of our current actions a little to the right or left. You know the lane you’re in; now what do you need to do to move things in a new(er) direction?

Second, is mindset. You have facts. Beliefs. You know how things are. Always. I’m here to push you pretty hard. I want to question what you (think) you know. If you were to climb a different ladder and look down on what you’re above, would you see things differently? Please, change…your perspective.

Shift Happens

Good news, the appropriate response to those two factors are the exact keys to unlock answers to all three questions. Open a journal, and start writing. No one but you needs to see your first—rough—draft. But you do need to see it. Give yourself the gift of presence, the gift of attention, the gift of dreaming. If the last few years have taught us something, it is that shift happens. Things around us are changing, so you get to change, as well.

Take the risk and answer those questions anew.

Dr. Jason Womack
Dr. Jason ‘JW' Womack is currently an instructor at Air University's Leadership Development Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He is a Nationally Board-Certified Coach (BCC), co-author of "Get Momentum: How to Start When You're Stuck," and author of "Your Best Just Got Better: Think Bigger, Work Smarter, Make More."