“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 September 28, 2020
How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals
There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.
With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.
With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.
1. Determine Your “Why”
Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.
The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.
Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:
“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”
That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.
I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.
Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.
Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).
2. Write Down Your Goal
If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down.
This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.
When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.
3. Set a SMART Goal
A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.
By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.
- Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
- Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
- Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
- Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
- Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.
Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life
4. Take One Step at a Time
Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.
Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.
For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.
This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.
5. Order Your Tasks by Priority
With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.
For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.
The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.
Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster
6. Schedule Your Tasks
Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.
What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.
For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.
Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.
While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).
7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits
Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.
Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.
You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.
8. Check off Items as You Go
You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.
There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.
If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.
9. Review and Reset as Necessary
Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.
If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.
The Bottom Line
When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.
More on Goal Action Plans
- How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?
- 20 Examples of Personal SMART Goals To Improve Your Life
- How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them
Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com