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10 Questions That Will Improve Results in Any Area

10 Questions That Will Improve Results in Any Area

    The only foolish question is the one that was never asked!

    When you begin any project, are trying to make a change in your life, or are faced with a difficult undertaking, the best way to improve your result is to ask the important questions first. If you are working as part of a team, some questions may need to be asked of others. When working towards an individual goal, you will be the one giving the answers.

    Ask, ask, ask — until you’re confident that you have a firm understanding. Don’t wait until you’re stuck and spinning your wheels. Ask the questions and find the answers first!

    Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers. – Anthony Robbins

    Questions

    Why am I doing this?

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    It’s important to understand the reason behind anything you undertake. Whether it’s a goal, task, habit, or project, “why am I doing this?” should be the first question you ask yourself. Understanding the reason behind the actions can be a tremendous motivator.

    What is the desired outcome?

    Without being clear about the desired result, you can’t plan how to get there. Identify what you’re trying to accomplish and exactly what that will look like. Clarity is key. Vague targets are rarely attained. Defined and tangible objectives have much greater success.

    When is the deadline and are there periodic checkpoints?

    Know when the action or project needs to be complete. Be aware of any phases or interim deadlines along the way. If you know how much time you have to work with, you can better plan backwards and set aside the necessary amount of time.

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    What is my role?

    Understanding your role is crucial. Are you the leader or a worker bee? Are you a researcher or a communicator? Are you a team coordinator or planner? It’s important to know which role you play so you can align your actions. If it is an individual undertaking, then you are most likely all of the above.

    Who is responsible or accountable for which tasks or projects?

    This is related your role, but in a more specific and tangible way. Determine which specific tasks you are personally responsible for. Know who maintains accountability. Perhaps you are the one whom others are accountable. Define your responsibilities.

    Do I have metrics or some form of measurement?

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    Establish a measurement of success, so that progress can be determined. If metrics are set by someone else, know what they are and if there is any flexibility.

    What are the possible roadblocks or obstacles?

    We almost always encounter snags along the way to completion. However, difficulties can more easily be overcome if we can prepare for them. It’s not always possible to prepare, complications by their very nature, are frequently unforeseen, but if you at least try to anticipate potential setbacks, they can often be resolved quickly.

    What are the available resources?

    Be aware of what resources are available. Be cognizant of the number of people involved or accessible to you and their skills. Be honest about the amount of time that can be committed. Also, understand if there are financial constraints.

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    How important is this project or task?

    The importance of any goal or project determines how much attention and effort it deserves. Higher priority items get moved to the top of the list, while less crucial tasks can often be pushed back. If a project affects the profitability of a business or the health and well-being of an individual, it usually gets top priority.

    What can I do to be more effective?

    Develop strategies to help you be more efficient and productive. Improve the quality of your work by utilizing useful and  effective tools. Better organizational skills greatly enhance effectiveness. Learn to be resourceful.

    Better Results

    Asking questions is a valuable tool in every area of business and life. This often-overlooked strategy can make the difference between success and failure. When we get clear about what we are trying to accomplish and why, we have a much better chance of attaining the desired result. Likewise, when we align our actions with what is expected of us, we can better meet our responsibilities. Finally, if we plan and prepare we can best utilize the skills and resources available to us to achieve the most success.

    (Photo credit: …Inerrogation Symbol… via Shutterstock)

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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