Thinking is the process of asking ourselves questions and answering it. When we ask better questions, it allows us to clarify our thinking and experience healthier self-talk. Here are 10 of the best questions to ask yourself daily.
Each phase of our day requires questions that help us focus on the most important tasks. You shouldn’t ask questions that summarize your day when you’re just starting the day. For that reason, I divided the questions based on which phase of the day you’re in.
- Morning (ideally upon waking up)
- Afternoon (middle of your day)
- Evening (ideally after bed)
- Special moments
The questions are pretty much easy to understand. But for the purpose of clarity, I also explained the reason why each of these are great questions to ask yourself daily. I know it will add richness to your experience.
The purpose of these “morning questions” is to put you in a positive, optimal state. One of happiness and productivity. When you start your day in a more positive light, it affects your mood the entire day. A study done by Nancy Rothbard, a Deputy Dean and Management Professor at Wharton confirms this. She and her team studied customer service representatives of an insurance company for a few weeks.
They found that people who started with a good mood before they worked gave a higher quality of service to customers. But not only that; those who started each day as happy or calm stayed that way all the way through the work day. So, asking these questions as you start your day can help you be more productive and satisfied about the course of your day.
What Three Specific Things In My Life Am I Grateful For And Appreciate Today?
Maybe you’ve heard of the advice of asking what you’re grateful for every morning. I think that’s a step in the right direction, but it lacks intensity. After all, you can choose something vague to be ‘thankful’ of just to get through the question. But really, specificity is the key to practicing gratitude.
Our brain works like a computer. When we ask something vague, it gives us a vague answer in return. By adding the word “specifically,” it primes your brain to look for something you can get behind.
What Activities Do I Need To Do Today That Will Take Me Closer To My Goals?
This question helps you choose what your highest point of contribution is. Sometimes, before we even start our day, we get so caught up in what we must do that we forget what’s important. We forget to choose our highest priority that will take us closer to our goals. Choosing what’s “important” rather than what’s “pressing” will boost your intrinsic motivation… which is important for hitting long-term goals.
Another reason why this is a great question is because it ensures that you’re making progress. After all, progress, aside from gratitude, is what makes humans happy. Without a sense of improvement in any aspect of your life, you can’t help but feel stuck.
These afternoon questions to ask yourself daily helps you evaluate what you’re doing. When we go to work, our tendency is to keep on working. To grind until it’s time to clock out. Or if you’re an entrepreneur, to continue working even in the wee hours of the night.
When I ask these questions in the middle of the day, it forces me to look at what I’m doing. To face my fear, do what I know I have to do even when I’m afraid, and grow past the fear.
Am I Working On My Priorities Or Am I Just Doing Things That Keep Me Busy?
I like this question because it builds the self-discipline of constantly weighing the things we’re doing. In this day and age of the hustle mentality, “busy-ness” is the new status symbol. We use our long “to-do” lists to show how important and valuable we are in our companies. When we’re demanded to attend meeting after meeting, we feel like our opinions are valued. Even though nothing is ever really accomplished with these meetings.
But what if instead of busy-ness, you measure your day based on your impact? Instead of focusing on crossing off ten items in your list, what if you focus on one task that matters to you personally?
What Do I Know I Need To Do But Keep Avoiding?
There are a lot of times in my life when I avoided tasks and it came to bite me in the ass. Instead of confronting it, I kept putting it off until it became too overwhelming to even think about it. Looking back, it’s because I knew what I was afraid of, but I didn’t have the courage to face it.
Save yourself some trouble and face what you’re afraid of doing right now. Call a client, write something, market your business, have the awkward conversation, be the first to reach out, and so on. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. If you’re avoiding it, it’s going to come back bigger so have some guts to face the music.
Reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and overall journey in life is one way to effective thinking and learning. You dissect your experiences and come to a helpful conclusion. Instead of getting through circumstances, you’re getting something from them.
Probably one of the best habits I’ve developed over the years is regular thoughtful reflections. I’m willing to bet dough it’s going to be one of your best habits, too. And it starts with these questions.
What Did I Learn Today?
Everyday, you and I encounter seeds of learning that we can benefit from. But the only way to take advantage of those seeds is to plant them in our minds. You can do that by asking this simple question.
Record your answers in a notebook or diary. This one’s optional, but beneficial. If you can find a way to crystalize your progress from thought to paper, your personal growth will be leaps and bounds.
What Happened Today That Brought Me Joy?
This is my night version of the gratitude question. But instead of thinking of something that you can be thankful for, you’re choosing to remember something that brought you joy. It could be seeing a random act of good or watching a cat video on YouTube. Whatever it is, remember that before you sleep. It allows you to relax better and faster.
What Can I Do Better Tomorrow?
To conclude your night, ask yourself what you can do better. Every night can be your last and you’re not guaranteed a tomorrow. But if you’re given a “bonus,” knowing that you can do better shows you unlimited possibilities for growth. That even if you did good things today, you can make better things tomorrow. And that’s exciting news!
Don’t confuse this with feeling dissatisfied about your progress today; it’s not the same thing. This question helps you practice the principle of slight edge, of getting 1% better daily. Being dissatisfied is nothing but leaving things as is and moping around why you suck. You don’t. You can choose to be better.
During Special Moments
When Having Conflicts: Will This Matter In 5 Or 10 Years?
Saying hurtful things or worse, resorting to physical or emotional abuse is never cool, no matter how angry you are. When you have an argument with people you love, ask yourself if this will matter after a few years. Most of the time, it won’t. In fact, you won’t even remember the cause of the argument. But the hurtful words you say will mark in their heart.
Another version of this question is, “What’s more important to me? To win the argument and lose the person, or lose and reconcile?” Now, you don’t necessarily have to “lose the argument” – that’s not the point. But the question forces you to evaluate what’s more important: the issue at hand or the person you argue against.
When You Feel In Doubt Or Afraid: What If It Works?
I was driving to a client meeting when this question popped in my mind. A few minutes before, I was worried that our campaigns won’t work or that I’m not “good enough.” When this question popped, every worry and anxiety went away. I realized that I’ve been living a life where I believed in everyone else but myself. To me, this was a life-changing question because it strengthened my resolve to develop my self-belief.
Let me ask you, “What if the thing you’re worried about works?” How would you act? What would you think? How would you feel?
When Evaluating Your Progress: What Kind Of Person Am I Becoming?
People rarely think of the person they’re becoming. In fact, they are so caught up in what’s happening to them that they don’t inspect what’s happening in them. Growth-seekers like us choose the kind of person we want to be. We don’t leave it to chance. And it starts by asking this question.
These are hands down, the best questions to ask yourself daily. It lets you control your day instead of handing over the control to serendipity. And the best part of all? Asking these questions costs nothing but effort. There’s unlimited upside and very few, if any, downside to thinking about them.
Live an inspired life,