Asking yourself good questions is a great technique for getting clear and getting real. Here are five questions I ask my clients — and that I take time to answer for myself — each time we transition to a new quarter. This practice is a great way to check in four times during the year and take stock.
1. Am I being real?
Are you showing up fully and authentically? Or, are you trying to be what you think people expect you to be, or want you to be? Maybe you are afraid to show the world (or segments of the world) your true self — afraid you’ll be “too much,” unliked, or are simply uncomfortable being seen.
If your answer is less than a whole-hearted YES, think about why you may be holding back.
What to do next: If your answer was, "No," consider how you can make a small change, to show up as your true self in a particular situation. Starting with a small effort lets you test this out, and from there you can consciously bring more of yourself into all parts of your life.
2. Am I letting fear take the reins?
This is a big one for all of us. Taking a clear-eyed look at where you may be operating based on fear lets you consciously make shifts that can have a profound impact.
Most of what we fear is not perilous, and can be overcome with clear perspective and getting support.
What to do next: If you are holding back because you are afraid to fail at something new or challenging, try taking baby steps to test the waters.
If you are afraid to speak up about something on your mind, let a trusted friend help you practice ways to express yourself and encourage you to do so.
When you take small steps, and continue taking additional steps, you will gradually build confidence. Things are rarely as scary as they seem when unexamined.
3. Am I living small?
This question holds many more questions, such as:
How can I bring some boldness into my life?
How can I take steps to embark on a burning desire?
How can I lead in new ways?
What to do next: Pick one way you see that you are living small and explore at least five ideas for small steps that can open you up in new ways.Then pick one to test now.
4. Am I taking action?
Some of us are full of ideas, but hesitant when it comes to implementing them. Some of us habitually procrastinate. Some of us feel stuck — around a particular issue, or in general. All of these can drag us down, and often cause pressure and stress.
What to do next: If you realize that there are ways you are not taking action, this is the time to begin committing to taking small, consistent steps. Once you begin, momentum can build. And even if you hit rough patches along the way, the flow and energy you’ll experience when you commit to ongoing action will amaze you.
5. Am I celebrating my wins?
High achievers typically feel the need to do big, heroic things to feel worthy of celebration.
The truth is that when we acknowledge and celebrate micro-wins we have the satisfaction of accomplishment. It’s a big deal for our brains to get a boost like that. And it gives us energy to continue down the path we have set.
What to do next: Celebrate small wins like three straight days of keeping a commitment to stay in action around a particular initiative; or inviting someone to have a conversation you’ve been putting off; or (finally) asking someone for help.
The common thread.
You have probably noticed that small steps are the key to living more authentically, to living without fear, to shifting from keeping yourself small, to getting into flow and building momentum, and to reaping the benefits of celebrating your wins. All of these are doable if you set the bar low enough that you can clear it with ease. And when you continue to take small, doable steps, learning and adjusting as you go forward, the impact adds up dramatically.
Drop me a note, or leave a comment to share the insights that come up for you when you answer these questions. And, tell me about the small steps you are committing to taking, too.
Start taking a small step or two today, keep it going, and imagine what it will feel like to have truly moved the needle by the time the next quarter rolls around.