How to Be Your Best and Achieve Your Goals

It sounds grand I know, “How to be your best and achieve your goals,” but it’s not. It’s simple. It’s a process and it takes time, but I have a tool that will help you if you’ll just decide to use it!

Time and again with my clients, students, and friends, I’ve shared this tool and the power that it has had to change my life and that of those who use it. It is a triggering mechanism, and its objective is to alter our behavior – for the better.

What is this tool? It’s called the Daily Questions Process. I do this self-questioning exercise every day, and I have for years. Every day I challenge myself by answering 32 questions that represent behaviors that I feel are important, but that are easy to neglect given the pressures that surround me every day. The number 32 isn’t magic, the idea is to just ask the number of questions that seems ‘right for you’. (If you’d like a copy of my questions, email me at marshall@marshallgoldsmith.com. There’s also a free app on iTunes that you can use if you’re more digitally savvy!)

Each question is put on an Excel spreadsheet and is answered with a ‘yes’ (use a 1 to represent this on the spreadsheet) and ‘no’ (use a 0 on the spreadsheet) or a number. The process moves very quickly!

Here are some of the questions that I ask myself. Please remember my questions reflect my values, and might not work for you. Please use these just for example and write your own.

Did I do my best to:

Increase your happiness?

Find meaning?

Be engaged?

Build relationships?

Set clear goals?

Make progress toward goal achievement?

Here are more of the questions that I ask myself:

  1. How meaningful were your activities?
  2. How many minutes did you watch TV?
  3. How many hours did you sleep?
  4. How many sit-ups did you do?
  5. What is your weight?
  6. Did you say or do something nice for Lyda?
  7. Did you say or do something nice for the kids?
  8. How many alcoholic drinks did you have?
  9. How many minutes did you spend trying to change things you can’t control?
  10. How many clients are not up-to-date?

Some of my questions are about health, such as “How many sit-ups did you do?” (This works. Today I did 200 sit-ups at once. Not bad for a 68-year-old guy!)

Disciplined follow-up is the key to the success of my teaching and coaching. One question is “With how many clients are you current on your follow-up?”

My relationship questions include, “Did you say or do something nice for your wife? Your son? Your daughter?” I am certainly not a perfect husband or dad, but this process helps me get better.

This process works, because it forces me to look at and live my values every day. If I believe something matters I put it on the list and do it! If I really don’t want to do it, I can see the long string of 0s next to my daily attempts, face the reality that it isn’t going to happen, and let it go.

Now, you try it. What questions would you want to ask yourself, every day? Write them down. Even the process of writing questions will help you better understand your own values and how you live or don’t live them on a daily basis. If you really have courage, recruit a coach or friend and start asking daily questions to each other. You will be as amazed at the results!

Triggers is a #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller! Order it at Amazon. See The Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog for more of this video series.