The 5 Questions Successful People Routinely Ask Themselves

Ben Franklin began and ended his day by asking himself questions about the good he would do that day. Here are five questions that will help you take stock of your goals, fears, and failures to become a better version of yourself.

While everyone has a different definition of professional success, the one thing all successful people share in common is a drive to be better than the day before.

Whether you’re looking for a new job, looking to make your company a success, or just reaching for the next rung on the career ladder, forward momentum is key.

In the hustle and bustle, we can often skip asking ourselves the big questions. These questions are necessary to ensure we’re keeping our goals in sight and moving in the right direction.

Once upon a time, another entrepreneur, leader, and inventor asked himself the tough questions. His name was Benjamin Franklin.

In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, author Mason Currey took a look at the daily rituals of some of the most successful and artistic people throughout history. Franklin, for instance, started and ended his day by asking two self-improvement questions: In the morning he asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?” In the evening, he wrapped up by asking, “What good have I done today?”

Bookending his day with these simple questions helped Franklin focus on his goals and point his efforts in the right direction. Similarly, the most successful people never stop questioning and never stop seeking answers.

Here are five questions successful people ask themselves in order to reach their goals:

1. Am I in the Right Niche?

Sometimes the career trajectory we chose years ago just doesn’t fit as well today. Often times we lose the passion we once felt for our business, job, or career path in general. It’s possible you haven’t even considered in quite some time whether you’re in the correct niche or following the right path.

Knowing your niche can help you set successful goals in your professional life. It can help you determine what niche job boards might hold your next big opportunity, what networking events you should attend, and even whom you should retweet on Twitter. Diving deep into your niche means you have sincere passion for your industry, and this passion will shine through everything you do.

2. Am I Failing Better?

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better,” said writer Samuel Beckett. When it comes to accomplishing your goals and getting where you need to be in your career, this is good advice to follow.

You cannot be so afraid to make mistakes that you never truly take risks in your career. However, you should also be learning from the mistakes you do make and the times you’ve failed. Look critically at your mistakes and see if you’re failing better, or just failing.

Write down three of your biggest career mistakes, and then come up with a plan to address these errors and turn your negatives into positives. Take a class, do some reading, or ask advice from a mentor. Mistakes are teachable moments in disguise; so don’t let these learning opportunities pass you by.

3. Am I Doing Something That Scares Me Every Day?

Without risk, there’s no reward. Only by facing your fears can you overcome them. In your professional life, you should be constantly challenging yourself and pushing beyond the limits of what you thought was possible.

Otherwise, you’re likely to become complacent in your job and disengaged with your career. If you’ve fallen into the 70% of the American workforce disengaged on the job, it’s time to tune back into your professional life, and this means facing your fears. Asking for a professional challenge is rarely a mistake, and can give you a new goal to strive for.

4. Do I Have a Game Plan to Reach my Goals?

You wouldn’t try to climb Mount Everest without a map, right? So why do so many of us rush into battle with our career without devising a strategy to ensure victory? Before starting a job search, a business, or even a negotiation for a new deal, you need to sit with yourself and ask the tough questions.

What do you really want? Why do you deserve it? And, most importantly, what steps do you need to take to achieve your goal? Your goals might initially seem too big to conquer, so your game plan should be all about breaking it down into manageable pieces.

Starting your own business might seem like a big goal, and you might feel overwhelmed before you even start. Instead, break it into more manageable pieces focusing on developing a vision for your company, putting together a business plan, and finding investors and sources of funding.

Now instead of one hugely insurmountable goal, you have plenty of smaller goals you know you can achieve. No one ever climbed Everest in a single bound, so carefully plan out the steps you’ll need to get to the top of your professional mountain.

5. Do I Still Believe in Myself?

Before you can achieve your goals, you need to believe in your own abilities. You’ll never reach the finish line if you don’t believe you can run the distance. If you’ve lost the belief in your own talents and abilities, it might be time to take a look in the mirror.

Why don’t you like what you see? Have your skills gotten rusty? Have you become complacent in your job? Or are you just not having fun in your industry anymore? You have to be your own cheerleader if you want to get ahead in your career, which means you need to believe in your ability to get things done.

To reach our goals and succeed, sometimes we have to take a hard look at ourselves. The most successful people aren’t happy with the status quo and understand asking tough questions is a life-long process helping them to achieve more.

What questions do you ask yourself in order to reach your goals? Share in the comments!

Karyn Mullins is the EVP and General Manager of MedReps.com, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Karyn and MedReps.com on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

[Image: Flickr user lisa cee (Lisa Campeau)]

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7 Comments

  • elyssa

    Awesome post. I especially love #4: "Do I have a game plan...?" I just wrote about this concept - Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert says "Losers have goals. Winners have systems." In a goal- and task-oriented society, it's easy to think just writing down where you want to be in a week, a month, or a year is enough. But I love what you say about breaking it down into a map of more manageable pieces. No successful person ever got to their destination without a system in place to reach it!

  • lisa

    It's easy to be distracted and not focus on the big picture. The question I ask myself throughout the day, "Is this (whatever I happen to be doing) getting me closer to my goals or farther away from them?" If the activity is not related to my goals, I need to know why I'm doing it or stop it and do something that is goal focused. Of course an even bigger question for many is "What are your goals?" Thanks for the thought provoking article.

  • Excellent list.... And "Am I being truthful with myself and others?. "

    "What stories do I tell - is it the same story for everyone. Am i integrous?"

    "Am I aware how to build trust?"

    "Am I anxious to learn or be right?"

    " do I chose to be happy over my ego?"

    Something's to ponder .....

  • As a CRM expert , I would like to ask the 4th in your list (Do I have Game Plan to reach my Goals?). This helps and reminds my goals and responsibilities.

  • Chris PhotoFix Hilbert

    I really love the concept of "Fail Better".

    It encourages you to keep trying! Learn from your failures, modify where/when needed, keep going until you reach your goal.

    Thanks for a great article!

  • Rogerio Rodrigues

    Hello, It´s very important to be in the right niche but sometimes it´s very dificult to realize that.

    Have a nice day!!!!!

    Rogério R.