As a psychotherapist over the past 15 years I've seen countless patients from all walks of life. I've worked with patients ranging in age from teenage to elderly. I've seen students, blue-collar workers, professionals, entertainers, billionaires, and some of the brightest and most talented business leaders and entrepreneurs of today. Regardless of the demographic, educational level, or bank account, there have been questions and things I have asked patients to think about that have resonated and served as a catalyst for them to make impactful changes and improvements in their lives. Many of the questions are explored in my book Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days.
For now though, take a look at the questions below and start to make powerful changes in your life:
- Imagine your life one year from now. If it's the same as it is right now, will you be okay with that? This question is designed to get you to think about what you're doing now and how you'd like life to be. It puts your current life smack dab in your face and asks you to consider if it is what you want life to be like one year from now. If not, then the question can be a catalyst to change.
- What are your strengths and what are you good at? So often when people are anxious, depressed, dealing with relationship issues, or going through a life transition, their thoughts linger on what isn't right, their faults, and perceived weaknesses. Redirecting your attention to what you're good at and your strengths is a powerful step to bring about change.
- What is truly important to you and what do you value? Before knowing what you want from your career or relationship, you have to know what you deem to be of great importance and value. For example, in a relationship, one might value good communication, honesty, and shared passions.
- What are your goals? Similar to the question above, one must know what they want to accomplish before they can take steps to change. Knowing where you want to go will tell you where to step.
- What can I control? Frequently people who worry and who are highly anxious think about things that are way beyond their control. For example, they might check the weather forecast obsessively if they have to go out. Will checking it change the weather? Probably not. Can we really control the weather? No, but we can control how we might dress if it is raining. By directing energy towards what is within our control we'll get to a solution more quickly than if that energy is exerted on things beyond our control.
- Ask yourself: what's an alternative explanation? People often jump to erroneous conclusions. They explain away things without any evidence or support for their thoughts. For instance, if your spouse comes home from work at the end of the day and is in a bad mood, rather than personalizing it and thinking that he/she is mad at you, consider alternatives: he had a bad day at work; he isn't feeling well, he is tired. The simple act of not personalizing, but rather, exploring other explanations can help to prevent a lot of anxiety.
- Suppose I do, then what? This is a powerful question to ask yourself if you're trying to eliminate an unhealthy behavior. I'll often pose this question to patients who are trying to get past an ex and obsessively check that person's Facebook page or other social media. They realize there is no positive outcome from checking. Another example -- someone who might reach for junk food to deal with stress. The question might trigger them to realize how unhealthy the behavior is and lead to exploring more healthy ways of managing stress.
- If I gave you a million dollars, could you figure out a way to make a change? Money remains a huge motivator for people and can lead people to dig in deep and think about how they may come up with solutions. Remember when you were younger and your parents offered you a few dollars if you washed the car or did some chores? Without the incentive you probably wouldn't have done it. Well the hypothetical million dollar offer works the same way (of course it's never paid out). It does though trigger a line of thinking that can be productive.
So, next time you feel stumped, stuck, or unsure where to go, ask yourself these powerful questions that will serve as an impetus to change.
For more tips on how to change your life check out my book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days.