“The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions” – Dr. John Demartini
The questions we ask ourselves determines what we focus on. If you want to produce better results in your life and business, it starts with asking yourself better questions.
High performers and elite entrepreneurs make it a daily habit of asking empowering questions that allow them to be fully present in the moment, do their best work, and focus on what matters most.
In this article, you’ll learn 3 questions to ask yourself daily to become more productive, feel fulfilled, and make a greater impact.
Before we dive in, it’s important to state what may be obvious to some. These questions aren’t a magic pill that will transform your life just by asking them. They must be followed up with consistent, purposeful action.
Each one of them has been a game-changer for me, and I’m confident they will be extremely valuable and helpful for you as well. Let’s dive in…
1. How can I serve today?
Research has shown the key to increasing productivity, work satisfaction and fulfillment is doing meaningful work.Advertising
When we attach what we do to a greater why – by finding meaning in what we do and doing work that matters – we show up consistently and require less external motivation and willpower to perform at our best.
Making it a daily habit of asking yourself the question “How can I serve today?” will help you focus on what matters most.
You’ll develop the mindset of a servant leader and be open to new opportunities to add value to the people around you, and solve bigger and better problems in the marketplace. This not only increases your impact but also your income. This is crucial for entrepreneurs to understand because as Jim Rohn said
“You don’t get paid by the hour, you get paid for the value you bring to the hour”
Another benefit is the fulfilling feeling you get knowing you’re contributing to something greater than yourself. This is one of the biggest motivators of successful entrepreneurs.
Doing meaningful work isn’t about ‘gaming the system’ or seeing how you can make the most money while providing the least amount of value. It’s about viewing the people you serve as real people – who have real dreams, desires, fears and frustrations. And then falling in love with the process of creating value, and doing work that makes a meaningful difference in their lives.
How can you serve today? How can you make an impact on someone’s life today?Advertising
2. What’s the one thing I can do today that will lead to meaningful progress towards my goal?
What’s your one thing? This is the activity that if you got done today, would make the biggest impact on bridging the gap from where you are right now, to where you ultimately want to be.
The most productive and high performing entrepreneurs know what this is before they sit down to do work.
What I personally do is plan out my day – including writing out my 3 tasks and my most important task – the night before.
Doing this allows you to start your day with the clarity of knowing exactly what needs to get done.
It’s not enough to just know what this one thing is, though. You have to design your day and create systems that ensure you get it done while in your most creative and productive state.
For me, this means getting my most important task done first thing in the morning right after doing my morning routine, which includes things like working out, journaling, box breathing, visualization, and reading for 15-30 minutes.Advertising
All these activities help prime my brain to be in the most focused, creative and productive state possible when it’s time to do work.
Figure out what works best for you. Make it a habit of executing on your one thing before anything else. This way you don’t use up your willpower and most productive hours on smaller, less important tasks.
3. What are my 3 wins for the day, and 3 things I can do to make tomorrow even better?
Recently I’ve made it a habit of opening my journal every evening and creating two sections: “Wins” and “Feedback”
Under “wins” I write down my 3 wins for the day, and under “feedback” I write 3 things I can do to make tomorrow even better. This is something I now look forward to doing every evening.
The ability to condition yourself to acknowledge your small wins will boost your confidence, creates momentum and inspires more purposeful action.
Giving yourself feedback at the end of each day is also powerful because it provides you with the one thing we need if we want to make any significant improvements in our lives – awareness.
If you notice for 3 days in a row under “feedback” you write: “spend less time on social media” or “get more sleep so I’m not so tired in the AM”, you’ll start to become aware that this is a recurring issue, and can create a plan of action to change it.Advertising
This isn’t about you beating yourself up. Look at it as coaching yourself, training your “awareness muscle”, and setting yourself up to master your day tomorrow.
It’s your turn…
I’m not sure who originally said this, but a quote that has stuck with me is “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
You are one powerful question away from transforming your life and business.
I hope this article has inspired and provided you with at least one takeaway you can immediately implement and see results with.
To recap… Focus on serving others, take action on your “one thing”, celebrate your small wins, and create the space to get feedback.
It’s time to take action.
Last Updated on April 22, 2021
How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow
Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.
Table of Contents
Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work
In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.
One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.
Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.
Motivation Is Not the Answer
How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?
If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.
We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.
Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.
Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.
How to Work Hard by Working Smarter
Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.
1. Define What a Win Looks Like
In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.
Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?
Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.
When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.
4 Steps to Define a Win
- Know the outcome you desire.
- Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
- Write the outcome down.
- Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.
Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.
As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.
Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.
2. Evaluate Your Activity
Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.
Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.
Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.
Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:
- Do now
- Plan to do it later
- Delegate to someone else
- Delete it
Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:
- Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
- Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
- Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
- Does this activity have to be done at all?
Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.
3. Prioritize Your Calendar
If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.
First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.
It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell
Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.
It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.
4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next
We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.
Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.
But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.
“Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu
Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.
Use these questions to reflect on your day:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What can I change?
- What do I need to start doing?
- What do I need to stop doing?
The Bottom Line
Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.
Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:
“Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”
Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.
That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.
More on Creating Healthy Routines
- Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You
- Your Routine is the Key to Achieving Your Goals
- Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart
Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com
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