Each day can come and go in a flash, but on an even scarier level each year seems to pass us by faster than the previous one. Throughout that period no doubt there have been some ups, downs, successes, failures and everything else in between. If we are not careful, without the ability to check-in and constantly self reflect, our days will pass us by without any meaning or purpose. It was the late and great Muhammad Ali who once stated, “If you look at the world when you are 50 the same way you looked at it when you were 20 and you haven’t changed, then you have wasted 30 years of your life”. Here are seven questions you should ask yourself everyday to insure you are being the best possible version of yourself.
- Why did I get out of bed?
This can be an extremely difficult question to answer if you have never or rarely had any level of self-reflection. Common answers I come across here are, ‘because I have to’ or ‘to change the world’. My pragmatic nature encourages an answer somewhere between these two extremes for maximum effect. Something that has direct impact on you and the people around you is a great place to start. ‘To be the best possible role model, partner, parent, teacher, friend and student’, is what I am currently working towards when it comes to getting out of bed and into the day.
- Did I put myself in an uncomfortable environment?
Is there another A list Hollywood actor that could send a shiver through the world of comfort like Denzel Washington when he voiced? “Ease is a greater threat to progress than hardship”. I could not agree any more with that statement. Comfort, although the goal of so many, is the greatest enemy of growth on the planet. To bring this closer to home, placing yourself outside of your comfort zone daily should be extremely high on your priority list. Never before has comfort been so easy to find, but it’s in progress where true satisfaction lies.
- Was I honest with myself?
I recall a mentor looking me in the eye and uttering the following, “there’s one person in this world you cannot lie to”. My initial thought went external to my wife or mother, but with a more intrinsic lens it became obvious that it was myself. The pillow we lay on at night seems to be that little bit cozier when we have been honest with our self throughout the day. You can procrastinate, lie, avoid or even deceive, however eventually the truth becomes apparent, whether that is inside our thoughts or through other people. Honesty is the first ingredient of excellence.
- What did I achieve today?
You don’t have to have cured cancer or climbed to the top of Mount Everest to have achieved success throughout the day. As the (perceived) achievement of others is constantly splashed in our face, we can be forgiven for thinking that we haven’t achieved much on a daily basis. However, achievement is and will always be an internal reference. It could be as simple as going for a run, being a good friend, seeing the sunrise or helping an elderly person at the supermarket. It’s amazing how success breeds success, so if we can view our small achievements throughout the day as a success, then it sets up a fantastic mentality for additional success in the future.
- What worked & what didn’t?
What went well throughout the day? Instead of just putting these events down to luck, it’s great to ask, ‘what were the behaviours that contributed to the outcome?’ Alternatively, when things don’t go so well, instead of just resigning to ‘having a bad day’, ask yourself the same question, ‘what were the behaviours that contributed to the outcome?’ Self-reflection will not solve every problem or challange, however awareness is the first point of improvement. Without that level of awareness, events will influence our behaviour, instead of our behaviour influencing events.
- What dominated my thoughts?
The number of thoughts we are encountering daily has exponentially increased over the decades due to the rise of technology. These thoughts generally comprise of the current status of our relationships, finances, and health but they can also delve into more micro events such as, what will I cook for dinner? What will I watch on TV tonight? Or, what have I got planned for the weekend? Generally there is a stimulus that dominates our thoughts over others. It’s important to recognise these ‘events’ and act upon them accordingly, because nothing can wear us down more than over thinking. Always come back to these two words when looking to influence an event; actions and attitude. Can you influence the event through your actions, or do you need to shift your attitude towards it?
- What was my daily score?
This is not about beating yourself up when your day doesn’t go as planned, or over celebrating when your day is a success. What it is about however, is having a reference point, or in other words having a target to hit. Life can pull us in a million different directions, which makes it difficult to feel fulfilled in all areas. If you are traveling with work, you are missing time with the family… If you’re at home all day twiddling your thumbs, you are not being a great provider…
Establish the five most important areas in your life you would like to influence, and give each a rating out of 10 at the end of the day. The key is not to be perfect but to reach a specific number each day. My five at present are; husband, learner, teacher, health and provider, and the number I aim to hit everyday is at least 30. The five areas and the number you decide upon is very much a personal choice.
There are some days I am not a great provider, as I am pulling together a marketing plan for example, but I make sure on that day that my relationships and health are paramount. Other times I might be travelling with work, so I’m not being a perfect husband, however I am providing for the household. Perfection is not the aim here; it’s more allowing you the freedom to live life without the mental burden of disappointment. If for whatever reason you are consistently falling short of your target, then it might be worth exploring the above six questions with greater self-reflection and honesty.