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The 9 Question Exercise Which Will Help You Prioritize What Matters Most

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You’re busy, I get it. If you’re like me, you’re constantly jumping from one activity to the next. From one commitment to another, you barely have enough time to think, let alone ask yourself the meaningful questions that will help you drive your career forward or lift your business to the next level. Nonetheless, you owe it to yourself and those around you to take the time to clearly define your goals and your aspirations if you are going to make real progress in any direction.

If you’re caught in the race or just trying to keep up with the Joneses, take it upon yourself to ask these questions. Take a few hours to sit down and write out the answers to these questions. If you’re working as part of a team, consider asking these questions as a group and starting a discussion around them.

Here are the 9 questions you need to be asking yourself on a consistent basis:

1. Where will your future growth come from?

This can relate to your business or your personal life. Consider whether you are in a place to grow emotionally, spiritually, or intellectually. Where will you have the greatest opportunity to grow? What form will this growth take?

2. How do you think your current strategy is going to change, based on emerging trends such as… [fill in the blank]?

Everyone experiences change. You are influenced by different things in different ways, and you have to be ready to face those changes by adjusting your goals and aspirations.

3. Why have you been successful so far? How will these reasons for success change in the future?

Consider what you have done which has worked well in the past and look at ways in which this might not work in the future. It is important to realize what has worked in the past may not always work in the future, so consider ways you may have to shift your thinking to address future goals.

“Every day, you reinvent yourself. You’re always in motion. But you decide every day: forward or backward.” – James Altucher

4. If you had more money, time or resources, how would you invest them to reach your goals more quickly or more effectively?

Sometimes it is valuable to consider what you would do if you had the option to invest more capital or resources into a project or a plan. Think about what you would do if you had all the time and money in the world. How would that affect your decisions and your next steps?

5. Are there things you can stop doing or place less emphasis on?

Consider how you spend your time currently. Are there things you do that don’t provide a return on investment? Are there things that you do which hinder your ability to get more done? Think about the habits you have and the people you spend time with. Where is there room to adjust or shift how you spend your time?  

6. What would you ask for if you were not afraid of getting “no” as an answer?

Most of us avoid taking action or moving towards our goals because we are afraid of being told “no” or rejected in some way. Rejection happens to everyone, and we won’t be able to put it off simply by avoiding action. Most often, the things that you are afraid of doing because you may receive a “no” response are the things you really should do.

7. As you think about the future of your career, your business or the project you’re working on, what are you most excited about?

Too often, we are so caught up in the minutiae of a day-to-day routine that we forget the reason we are doing something in the first place. Think about why you are most excited about something, and why you have started down a certain path.

“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan

8. As you think about the future, what are you most worried about?

It is likely that one thing getting in the way of you accomplishing your goals is the worry that you will fail to meet expectations. Take a closer look at what you are most worried about and try to understand the reasons for those worries. Often, the worries are unfounded, and you may be able to alleviate those worries through sheer force of will.

9. What are your dreams for the future?

This is one of the more challenging questions you will be asked to answer, but it is still incredibly important. Consider your dreams for the future, not just for this project or business or activity, but your long term dreams. What do you want your life to represent? What do you want your mark to be on the world?

The more detail you’re able to put into the responses to these questions, the more you will be able to create a strategy for how to effectively adjust and reach your goals. Take those 2 or 3 hours this month to write out your responses to these questions, and I assure you it will make a tremendous difference in your life and how you think about your aspirations.

Which one of these questions has made the most profound impact on your life? Comment below and let us know!

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Matt Swintz

    May 2, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    I can really appreciate question #6. I have struggled with trying to conquer fear of rejection all my life and it has never gotten easier. Being able to numb the pain of rejection is vital actually taking action and making progress.

    Thanks for the article!

  2. Sam

    Apr 27, 2018 at 3:00 am

    These questions are exactly on point. It’s often very easy to get caught up in micro problems or setbacks that really shouldn’t matter, never mind be what we base our decisions off of. I especially liked the question about how we would invest additional capital/resources assuming we had it. In my experience, I find we put false limitations on our potential because “we don’t have enough money”, but in reality, we either don’t need as much as we think and/or we can do more with what we have. Great article!

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Life

How to Protect Yourself From Other People’s Negativity

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When I was a kid, it seemed like I felt pain more than anyone else around me. Not just physical pain, but emotional pain. I cried easily, over many things. I had an especially hard time when people were fighting around me, and I didn’t even have to be involved. I could feel the negative energy and felt upset and overwhelmed. I didn’t have a constructive way of handling it. (more…)

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How to Write a Personal Destiny Statement in 3 Steps

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We all have a God-given destiny to fulfill that we were each born with. I personally believe it is buried deep down within us. The number one secret to success is to let it emerge out of you and release it to the world. What is my destiny you may ask? It is the thing you would regret not doing before leaving Planet Earth. (more…)

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Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Life

Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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