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7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

7 Questions You Should Never Ask Yourself And What You Should Ask Instead To Be Successful In Life

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.

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Last Updated on January 14, 2019

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

The Key to Finding Job Satisfaction and Having a Successful Career

Regardless of whether you hold an entry-level administration role or regularly travel to the ends of the Earth as a hot-shot senior executive, you can still find yourself harboring an emptiness… a feeling that something is missing. A popular assumption that experiencing job satisfaction and a successful career should be underpinned by a well-rounded suite of tangible benefits, no longer holds true for many of us.

We’d never deny health care benefits, appropriate and fair remuneration, bonuses and travel perks in a job package. However, even if served to us on a silver platter, those features can only satiate us to a certain point.

You might wonder what governs entrepreneurs and start-up business owners to quit their lucrative jobs, essentially look the gift horse in the mouth and kiss such benefits goodbye! There can be an irresistible pull to mastermind a business with products and/or services that serve the greater good of community wider than that constituting their daily existence.

Even with research showing entrepreneurship to pose greater threats to their mental and physical health, this unique breed of individuals choose to go against the grain in chasing their dreams of being their own boss. Why? Why would anyone risk this type of career suicide?

Whether you’re an employee, have recently taken the leap to being a business owner or been in business for a while, the commonality is a congenital condition we all share as human beings; to feel a sense of purpose, value and contribution to our community. Despite it being harder to find this for ourselves in today’s world, these approaches will help you achieve ultimate satisfaction through the twists, turns and joyrides that are essential features of shaping a successful career.

1. Search for Opportunities That Feed Your Passion, Not Temporary Excitement

Even though well-intended, the ‘feel good now’ compass that career coaches and consultants often recommend you use to create career satisfaction can actually do you more harm than good. Excitement is transient. It doesn’t last. Passion is the compass you need.

Passion and excitement are two different things. The resounding career legacy that still draws you to turn up on the job regardless of the sunshine or storm that awaits you…that’s passion. It’s like a mental and/or emotional itch you can’t shrug off. Staying attuned to that calling will breed success for you sooner or later. Patience is key.

You’re also likely to have more than one key passion. Beware of getting caught in the notion you have to find your one true purpose. In fact, run immediately from any coach who tells you there is only one. There isn’t.

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Your passion is a journey that can take multiple forms so forget thinking there is the single dream job out there that will give you satisfaction in every way you can imagine. It simply doesn’t exist.

Consider embracing different roles and projects to help you fuel your passion or fuel your pursuits in finding it. Job satisfaction and your career success will be all the more sweeter from a wider range of enriching experiences.

2. Don’t Position Job and Career Satisfaction Assessments as Pivotal Guides to Your Success

Despite their popular use for vocational guidance, assessment tools such as Gallup’s Clifton Strengths and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator have come under fire[1] as being limited to the amount of true value and direction they can offer partakers.[2] These and many other guidance assessment tools (e.g. VIA Character Strengths , DISC ) are self-report questionnaires that don’t have normative population data against which to compare your results.

Simply remember these tools help you develop a stronger sense of what you identify as strengths and weaknesses within yourself, not in comparison with other people. They will still add insight around what sorts of career opportunities, tasks and projects are going to light your fire, what ones are going to extinguish it and what will prod and keep the coals steadily smoldering.

3. Be Clear on Your Personal Values, Ethics and Principles and Choose Relationships That Support You Honoring Them

Teamwork, collaboration, open communication and trust are commonplace for any flourishing work environment. However, whether or not your personal values can be honored in your work can make or break your job satisfaction.

How committed do you want to be to an organization that expects an average of 10 unpaid overtime hours every week under the guise of ‘reasonable overtime’? Are you willing to accept their construing this expectation as ‘strong commitment’ at the expense of your partner and children waiting at home for you? What are your boundaries concerning when you clock on to their time and when you clock off to yours?

Being very in tune with what your personal values, principles and ethics are will bid you well in the job satisfaction stakes. Spending time to reflect on experiences and working relationships you’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly – will help you make well-informed searches and grounded decisions that will propel your career success.

Finding and nurturing relationships with associates and colleagues who share similar values doesn’t just make your day-to-day pursuits more enjoyable. You become fortunate to work with like-minded people who will support, understand and appreciate you like a second family.

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Being able to honor your personal values in your work means you will still be able to sleep at night when you have to tread where others fear to, and make extremely difficult decisions others would never ever dream of having to make as you forge success in your career.

4. Be Clear on Your Own Definition of What Having a Successful Career Means for You

It’s tempting to get caught up in the ideals and projections of success expressed by those we love, admire and respect. Underneath, we all want on some level to belong to a successful club of some sort.

With research reporting how much money we feel we need to be truly happy,[3] many of us try to subscribe to the notion that having the car of our dreams or taking a European holiday annually will not bring us happiness. The truth, however, for many of us is these tangible rewards are congratulatory reminders of our persistent efforts to chase our career pursuits.

If those are things you aspire to, don’t let anyone steal your desire and want to feel deserving of these things, that those are some parameters by which you define your career success.

Despite consistently being the top revenue earner for two years running, you may not wish to become the sales manager. You may not wish to step out into running your own business even though you consistently excel as an employee, delighting clients and repeatedly receiving glowing testimonials.

Your definition of career success might be enjoying the predictability of a regular workplace routine. You get to leave – without feeling guilty – at the same time each day, love the people you work with and get to spend a good, uninterrupted amount of work-stress free quality time with your family. That picture is also blissful job satisfaction and complete career success.

5. Identify the Sorts of Challenges and Problems You Want to Learn to Overcome

Standard advice you might receive from a career coach might be to look for opportunities where you get to capitalize on exercising your strengths and career-related activities you enjoy.

However, to become a success at anything involves improvement. To excel at anything often involves stepping outside boundaries and comfort zones where others wouldn’t. This means dedicating focus and attention to things you’re not so good at and things you don’t like.

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Here’s where working with a coach can be particularly helpful. Map out the experiences that were unsavory in your working history. Were there challenges you opted out of, projects you failed at or toxic relationships that blasted your sense of purpose and self-worth into oblivion? It’s within these experiences that you might just find the most valuable lessons and guiding lights for your trajectory to achieve greater job satisfaction.

If your natural leadership style is to be a collaborator, finding opportunities that require you to apply a more dictatorial style might be needed. Discussing a secondment or short-term project where you get to develop and test your skills can be a step further in earning contention to lead a larger project down the track.

With several of the company’s boldest personality types penciled to roll out the operation, you’ll not only develop skills that earn your right to throw your hat in the ring; those key players have an opportunity to see your competence. You can then work on building relationships with those stakeholders before you need to hit the ground running should you win the lead.

Greater job satisfaction comes with planning and choosing the lessons and opportunities you want to learn, not desperately flailing, floundering and hoping for the best.

6. Keep Reviewing Your Goal Posts and Be Amenable to Change

The word ‘career’ is indicative of a longer-term pathway of change, growth and development. The journey is dynamic.

You will accumulate new skills and let those you no longer need, become rusty. Your intrigue will be stimulated by new experiences, knowledge and people you meet. Your thinking will continue to expand, not shrink. As a result, your goalposts are likely to change.

A major part of enjoying a successful career is not just setting goals effectively, but regularly reviewing and readjusting them where necessary. However, moving the posts or the target still needs to take place by applying the same processes by which you originally created them. The strength of your emotional connection to those revised goals needs to be the same, if not stronger.

By asking yourself the following questions, you can assure your developmental and growth trajectory is still on course:

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  • Would working toward these goals still allow me to honor my personal values, principles and ethics at the same capacity if not greater?
  • Do the activities I need to undertake to meet these goals honor my highest priorities?
  • Does this feel right for me and those who are nearest and dearest to me?
  • Is this aligned with my passion?
  • Is chasing this goal a right step for me to take now or is this a detour or distraction which could delay my greater plan?

Each of your career goals should have different review periods. Whatever you do, stick to the review schedule you set. It will not only keep you focused but help you see your progress (or lack thereof) and allow you to timely re-chart your course before you get too far down the track. You don’t want to waste time haphazardly heading in the wrong direction.

7. Be Prepared to Let Go

It can be unfathomable to us as to why others risk leaping into the unknown when everything truly appears fine and dandy in the career realm. The company provided stability, recognition, financial success, interesting projects and the promise of a promotion…what was wrong? Why now jump sideways to run a café or train in another field altogether?

Nothing may have been wrong at all. It was all going right. It was just the end of a chapter. Perhaps the yearning for the next step is actually taking a different trajectory entirely. You may want to simply experience a different rhythm. Perhaps it’s time to pursue a different passion.

If you have leaped from employee-land to freelancing or have made the reverse-jump (or you know someone who has), you will have quickly grown a different appreciation for pros and cons each work lifestyle brings. Working for yourself can bring the greater realization of your creativity, whether or not it can be monetized to earn you a living.

When your customers are buying you or a product you designed and fashioned, there is a direct level of appreciation and gratitude that can elevate your confidence in the way you have never experienced as an employee, regardless of your rank.

Similarly, there are times where we need to recognize our business ventures were adventures, not long-term life-changing empires. There are times we need to recognize that time is what provides the clearest limitation of how long we persist for in such pursuits.

We have to recognize the absence of enough financial, mental, emotional and physical breadcrumbs that tells us we’re no longer meant to push in that direction. At least, not for the present time.

The Bottom Line

Above all, keep the momentum. As long as you remain committed to pursuing work opportunities that allow you to honor your highest priorities, the truth of who you are and what you stand for, achieving ultimate job satisfaction and a successful career will never be too far away.

More Resources to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Csaba Balazs via unsplash.com

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