Great questions lead to great answers. So, forget New Year’s resolutions and embrace some any-time self-exploration to help you shake up your perspective.
We asked six top business coaches and authors for the most powerful question to ask yourself and how it can positively impact your career growth.
1. What do I want?
‘It’s super simple, but this question is something too many people, especially women, have no idea how to answer. Knowing what you want — as you approach every moment as well as consider your longer-term goals and dreams — is the first step in getting there.
‘Finding out what you really want can feel difficult and so the second question to ask around that to help you understand yourself better is “What makes my heart sing?” Then let yourself want it, whatever it is. You might find yourself dreaming bigger than you ever imagined, but when it comes from the heart, you’ll find a way. I’m not suggesting that life will be all sunshine and rainbows, but the joy that comes from doing more of what feels good will keep you energised and motivated.’
Life coach Eve Menezes Cunningham is the author of 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing. www.selfcarecoaching.net
2. What are my becauses?
‘Self-doubt and Imposter Syndrome make us self-sabotage — often without even realising it. Whether that’s turning down an opportunity, not speaking up or holding back on our dreams. My research shows that Imposter Syndrome rates have sky-rocketed over the pandemic to 77% of people worrying that they will be 'found out' as a fraud, daily or regularly.
‘A powerful question to drive you forward is “What are my 'becauses?” — the hidden blocks, fears and limiting beliefs that trigger self-sabotage. How can you spot them? Let 5-7 responses as to ‘Why you can’t do it…” bubble up when thinking about something you've been avoiding. If any responses make your body tense up then these should be top of your 'to do' list to get support to release, allowing you to crank up your confidence and make imposter feelings a thing of the past.’
Clare Josa is a speaker, mentor and author of Ditching Imposter Syndrome. www.ditchingimpostersyndrome.com
3. How can I further align my career goals and aspirations to my core values?
‘This is an important question because there are rising numbers of women experiencing burnout, and we know that a lot of burnout stems from a lack of boundaries linked to core values. When you are clear on your values and align your actions, interactions and behaviours with these, then it is easier to set boundaries and only do things that you know are right for you.
‘Women can find this particularly difficult. Asking this question can help you to re-evaluate your life and professional aspirations — whether you’re looking to achieve promotion within your company or find another job that is more in tune with your core values — as stronger alignment helps to decrease anxiety and increase presence, self-confidence and self-belief.’
Kelly Swingler is a business coach specialising in working with professional women. www.kellyswingler.com
4. On my most courageous day, what do I see my future-self doing and how will I create that?
‘If we’re not really clear about where we want to go and what we want to achieve, the chances are we won’t land anywhere of note. It’s so important to give ourselves time to pause, reflect and get clear and courageous about where we want to end up.
‘Don’t settle for what you think you might be able to do. Get braver than that; push yourself further and tap into your aspirations. And don't be afraid to ask for help to do it, regardless of how senior your role may be. The best leaders and professionals believe in constantly learning and developing — and know that change starts with them.’
Taz Thornton is a business and empowerment coach, author and motivational speaker. www.tazthornton.com
5. How can I be more where I am?
‘When we look at our career we often reflect on our positives — our strengths, passions and values — in terms of how they can move us forward. But rather than always reaching for the next career step, it can be powerful to look at your current situation and consider how you might enrich where you are [right now].
‘[This question] allows you to also reflect on whether what you are doing right now might actually be ‘enough’ — and help you to understand what you’re not willing to sacrifice or do to develop your career. This is especially true since Covid-19, as we may have formed new habits that we are unwilling to relinquish. I know people who don’t want to travel three hours every day or be away from home two weeks out of four, for example. Think holistically about how your career fits in with your life, and you may find that you are enough. And that is a liberating position.’
Helen Askey is founder of development and learning consultancy, Orange Pip. www.orangepip.co.uk
6. What one small action can I take today that will create the greatest positive impact in my life and career tomorrow?
‘Small changes equal big results. As Confucius said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”. So, start small, keep it manageable and be realistic about the change you want to make. For example, if you're prone to over-working, then commit to finishing work early one night of the week. If you want to secure a promotion at work, focus on the one action that will set you on that path — that could be simply asking for it or taking on a new project.
‘The most important thing is to take the first step and focus on that one action. It's the consistency of sustainable good habits that leads to real success.’
Sharon Aneja, is a Positive Psychology coach, wellbeing consultant and founder of Humanity Works Consultancy. www.humanityworksconsultancy.com