In our moments of weakness, we’ve all felt the effects of questioning our capabilities. We’ve questioned whether we have what it takes, questioned whether or not we are fully committed, and questioned whether we were cut out to handle things others seem to do so easily. Worst of all, we’ve even questioned whether we’ll ever be successful in life.

The truth? We do have what it takes. We can be committed, and WE ARE cut out to handle things, just like everybody else. We just need to ask ourselves the right questions–the kind that puts our focus in the right places and reminds us that we are capable.

So let’s stop using the following seven questions, and let’s replace them with good ones, shall we?

1. How can I get others to like me?

Most of us have asked this question since elementary school, so it’s no wonder that some of us still think this way.

Here’s the thing with this question, it’s okay to do things slightly differently if it means smoother interactions with others. But as soon as you start adopting interests, changing the way you dress, or changing your values, it’s a problem.

All of us want success, but it has to be personal, and it has to be our own version of success. So stop pretending and just be yourself when meeting others. Does it really count if you act like different person? You can’t really say it’s you, can you? That’d just be fraudulent.

You need to switch gears. You need to attract others who like you for you are.

Better question–Where and how can I improve my interests?

This question is great on two levels.

  1. It’s good for self-development purposes
  2. It surrounds you with like-minded people, which is a perfect setting for building friendships

Focusing on getting people to like you is a bad strategy, but attracting others while you do something you love is smart; hobby clubs, mastermind groups, dog parks, and anywhere people meet up are great for this.

It moves you away from the “I need to impress others somehow” mentality to the “I love what I’m doing and if others are interested they can join in” one. That is the mindset of someone who wants to be successful in life.

2. What if I look stupid, what will others think of me then?

As understandable as this question is, it’s only purpose is to hold you back. You will never amount to anything if you ask yourself this kind of question.

Let’s say you’re starting a blog. You say it’s a longterm project and that it has potential to make some money. You tell your friends and they’re like “A blog? Blogs don’t make money! Who told you that silly thing?” A statement like that is pretty discouraging, right? It makes you feel insecure and even a little stupid for considering it.

But think about this: what if they said that your clothes are stupid? Should you buy a new wardrobe? Perhaps they said your family is weird; should you avoid them? No! Of course not. This is how you should treat others when it comes to any goals you want to pursue as well.

Trust me, over time you’ll develop a thick skin and be able to ignore what others think of you, and it all starts with asking the right question.

Better question–Will I regret not doing this in the future?

You want to know what people really regret in life? It’s not getting drunk and vomiting all over the place (embarrassing, yes, but not regretful), and it’s not picking your nose without realizing people are watching.

It’s not telling that girl you like her. It’s not starting up that business idea you had when you were younger. It’s not pursuing your dream job and only focusing on the “safe” career path instead. These are the things you’ll look back on when you’re on your deathbed and cause a deep, intense feeling of regret.

You’ll regret how stupid it was of you to avoid “looking stupid.” I can actually answer that “Better Question” for you–yes, if you have to ask then you WILL regret not doing it now, so get to it!

3. What if it’s too hard and I fail?

There’s no getting around this possibility. You might fail. You might fall down head first and feel really dumb afterwards.

But does that make you a “failure?” Does messing up on the way to your goal make you a legit failure? What about messing up 10 times? 100 times? That’d definitely make you a failure, right?

If so, then let me introduce you to some “failures.” Thomas Edison, the man who created the light bulb, failed over a thousand times before having any success. Colonel Sander’s also failed over a thousand times before finding a buyer for his fried chicken recipe.

Both failed over a thousand times, yet they aren’t failures, are they? They were actually very successful in life.

Better Question–What does failure mean REALLY? Is it so bad?

Failure isn’t really failure unless you’ve given up. In fact, you should expect to mess up when pursuing goals. If you haven’t messed up then you probably haven’t really done anything yet. Here’s what the path of success looks like:

  • Idea
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess
  • Progress
  • Progress
  • Mistake
  • Reassess…

And so on. Mistakes allow refinement, they sharpen your approach and improve you. These kinds of lessons really stick with you since nobody likes to make mistakes, so learn to embrace your failures and let them guide you.

4. When will I succeed? When will I be successful in life?

We all have goals, things we want to accomplish. And naturally, we all want to have those things now. Lose 20 pounds, start a business, learn to play guitar–there’s lots of things we want done.

But sometimes we focus too much on the end result. This may lead to fantasizing, giving us a false sense of satisfaction. It could also cause us to shrink away from the challenge of it, knowing it could be long and tough to do.

Either way, you get bad outcomes.

Better question–What small thing can I do today to move forward?

This question puts you in the right frame of mind. Focusing on the steps that make your goals reality is the framework for success. Your goals will have their day, but it’s what you do today that determines what day that is.

So, what can you do today? What can you do right now? Are you writing a novel? Write down one sentence. Yup, a single sentence counts if done daily. Want to get in shape? Do a single pushup. It’s all about consistency, and small tasks are the kings of consistency.

5. What if I can’t meet everybody’s expectations?

Here’s the thing, everybody has different expectations about you. No matter what you do, you’ll never satisfy everyone. So what’s the point in even thinking about this? It’s an impossible question to answer.

Better question–What behaviors should I expect from myself?

The only person you should expect anything from is yourself. Your expectations are the only ones that matter. After all, you know better than others what kind of person you want to be. Do you expect patience? Commitment? Friendliness? What? You have to choose what you expect from yourself–that’s the only way it’ll truly matter.

6. Who and what kind of person am I?

This is the kind of question you should avoid. Why? It opens the door for others to tell you what kind of person you are. Eventually you’ll just become a conglomerate of other peoples perceptions.

Better question–Who do I choose to be?

Now this is good question. It puts the power in your hands, reminding you that your actions determine who you are, not what others say. Do you want to be happy? Then do things that make you happy. Do you want to be a person who values fitness? Go exercise.

It’s really as simple as that. Choose who want to be and perform the actions associated with that identity. Writers write, jogger jog, and you are who you choose to be.

7. Why me? Why am I in this situation?

Why oh why, indeed. Listen, it sucks that you’re in some kind of “situation.” But at some point, we all are. We all experience awful things, but we don’t have to remain a victim to our circumstances.

There is something you can do about it. I don’t know what, but the opportunity is there for you, and you won’t see it if you aren’t asking the right questions.

Better question–What actions will get me out of here?

This question exudes confidence and perseverance. It’s the kind of question that reminds us that we are in control, not circumstance. Maybe you can’t do something big, but you can (and will) do something small, even it’ll take some time.

You’re always in control of something, you just need to grasp at it to be successful in life.

Over to You

What are your personal experiences with these questions? Were you able to overcome them? How so?

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your real life experiences on the subject.

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Featured photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc

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