8 Steps To Finding (And Answering) The Right Personal Growth Questions

Question out of the box

I’m a big fan of questions. All my life I’ve asked questions and looked for the answers.

Sometimes I’ve found them, and sometimes not. What I now realize, after many years of asking, is that the questions are more important than the answers.

And believe me, coming from a die-hard, answer seeking, recovering know-it-all, that is quite a realization!
In almost any situation where I am stuck, or need to make a decision, I have discovered that taking the time to find the right question almost always leads to the answer I was seeking. And I have also discovered that the first question I ask is almost NEVER the right question!

Yesterday, it was 98 degrees here – very unusual – and as I sat sweating in my sauna, I mean my home-office-in-the-attic, I also found myself in a bit of a stuck place – alright, actually a whopper of a stuck place! So I decided to take a drive out to the coast and cool off both literally and figuratively.

As I sat on the warm sand, struggling with the question that was on my mind, watching the waves crash over the rocks, I was guided to let go of that question and find the right question! So I used a question-seeking process that I’ve developed over the past few years.

Here is the process that I use to discover the right personal growth question. (You can use this process to find that right question in any situation).

1. Set your intention:

Start your process by asking “What is the right question to ask right now?” By asking that question you are setting a clear intention to discover the right question. And so, you probably will! The first thing I did was write, in big, bold, letters, at the top of my journal page, “What is the right question to ask?”

2. Ask first, answer later:

If you’re like me, unanswered questions are like unopened presents. The urge to open them – or answer them – is difficult to resist. However, at this point in the question-finding process, you don’t want to get seduced into answering. Just list any questions you can think of that may or may not be connected to the issue you are exploring.

3. Set an Asking Time:

It’s a good idea to set a time period for asking. Especially when you begin using this process, you will be tempted to stop asking after coming up with the first five or six questions. In my experience there are a LOT more. So set a time limit of between fifteen and thirty minutes to just ask. Yes, there may be large chunks of that time when you’ll be just sitting, listening for the questions, but that’s ok! Don’t stop until that time period is over. Often THE question comes right at the bell!

4. Ask outside the box:

You’ve heard of thinking outside the box. Well asking outside the box is much the same. When you’ve exhausted all of the obviously related questions, begin writing down questions that seem unrelated. Let your mind go blank – stop thinking about the problem or issue – and just open up to whatever questions want to come in. And when they do, write them down.

5. Feel the questions:

Once your asking time is over, read through the list of questions. But it’s very important that you feel the questions as you read. As much as possible, get out of your head. Don’t analyze which question is right, feel which one is right. Stay open to subtle – and not-so-subtle – changes in your body: goose-bumps, tightness in the throat, a catch in your solar plexus, tingling at the back of your neck, shortness of breath, fast heart beat. Your body is often – usually – better at finding the right question than your analytical mind. So pay attention to what feels right.

6. Don’t answer the question:

All of the analytical types who’ve been waiting for their payoff, just clicked away after reading that one! I know, this is a tough one for me too. I mean, after all that work coming up with the right question, you’d think there would be the payoff of getting to answer it. But, not quite yet! Once you have the right question, give your unconscious mind some time to work on it. Ask the question a few times, say it out loud, think it, ask it different ways, and play with it. But don’t consciously, actively answer it yet. Give the question time to ripen.

7. Set a specific ripening time:

Your unconscious mind loves time-limits. So, just as you did with the asking period, set a clear and specific ripening period. This can be anywhere from 30-minutes to a week. Whatever time you come up with, put the question aside for that time. Put it out of your conscious mind and let your unconscious mind go to work on it.

8. Open your answer:

When your ripening period is over, it’s time – yes, finally! – to open your answer. And if you’ve gone through this entire process, it really will be just like opening those presents on Christmas morning. Your unconscious mind has done all the work for you. All you have to do is sit down with your journal, write the right question at the top of the page, and start writing. Be aware that the information that comes out after this process can be quite amazing and quite surprising.

So there you have my patented process from finding (and answering) the right personal growth question. Give it a spin and then come on back and leave a comment letting me know what you think. And if you have other tips for finding the right question, leave a comment below with that.

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    2 Responses to “8 Steps To Finding (And Answering) The Right Personal Growth Questions”

    1. Bean Jones on September 3rd, 2008 12:46 am

      This is a great process!

      i, too, am a great question-seeker and so far the question that has worked the most for me whenever I am faced with a challenge or dilemma is:

      “Given the situation, what would be the perfect end result?”

      This question really helps clarify a lot of things for me. Any “favorite” questions?

    2. Edward Mills on September 3rd, 2008 9:41 am

      @Bean: Great question! It takes you right to the “end” you’re looking for. You can then use the “backwards planning process” from Simpleology to find the question before that, and before that, etc., until you find your way right back to the perfect question you need to address right now!

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