One of the reasons so many people can’t find the answers they need for the challenges they face is that they ask themselves the wrong questions—or never bother to ask questions at all. As a professional life coach, my primary job is to ask the right questions. I ask the kinds of questions that shift your perspective or help you see that the answer is obvious, even if the situation is complicated. One of the smartest things you can learn to do is coach yourself in the midst of a dilemma. And there are three simple steps you can follow to do just that:
1. Get clear about the problem.
In order to get the answer you need, you need to understand the problem you’re trying to solve. Often, the problem that needs to be addressed in this moment is not about the big picture. It’s about a detail you have control over in the big picture. Let’s say that fear is -overwhelming you because you’ve been laid off and need a job, like, yesterday. You may not be able to snap your fingers and land that new job tomorrow, but you can identify a list of personal contacts to start reaching out to before tomorrow with a specific request, such as making an introduction to a decision-maker who can help you reach your bigger goal. Pinpoint the issue. Then address it with very specific, focused action.
2. Ask action questions, probing questions, and expansive questions.
In my book Listen to Your Life, I identify three types of self-coaching questions. Probing questions help you delve deeper to uncover hidden fears that may be holding you back, such as, “What are you afraid will happen if you move forward?” Expansive questions help you think bigger and start envisioning your dreams: “What would it feel like to double your income in the next 12 months?” Action questions get you moving: “So what’s the next step to move you toward that goal, and when will you take it?”
3. Tell the truth.
Lastly, but most importantly, you’ve got to tell the truth! Coaching is only as effective as you are truthful. Be honest about your fears and your desires, even (especially!) if they scare you. It’s the only way to get to the authentic answers that will guide you on the right path—the one that is uniquely meant for you.