It’s important to be constantly taking action if you want to achieve your goals. Without action, you’ll never make any real progress towards the things you want.
However, it’s just as important to reflect and ensure that you’re moving in the right direction. Because reaching the summit and achieving your most ambitious goals is not a straight-line path. Lots of course-corrections are involved, and these corrections usually come after engaging in self-reflection.
It’s not as simple as setting a goal and then persevering towards it – there’s a tactical element to getting the things you want out of life.
Sometimes we realize that we need to re-adjust our priorities and re-focus our energy on more productive pursuits. Sometimes we need to shit our targets and break our bigger goals into digestible chunks. Sometimes we realize that we’re not necessarily focusing on the right habits.
It’s easily possible that you’re making one of these mistakes right now. The question is – how will you know?
This is where self-reflection questions come into play. Getting the right answers in life starts with asking the right questions, and that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this article.
You’ll be introduced to powerful self-reflection questions that you can start asking yourself daily in order to ensure that your life is headed in the right direction.
Deploying self-awareness via self-reflection helps you avoid the most devastating potential consequence of success – achieving it and realizing it’s not what you wanted in the first place.
What is Self-Reflection?
Self-reflection is about engaging in introspection and reflecting on your own values, goals, and desires. It’s basically a deep-dive into you – performed by you – so that you gain a deeper understanding of you.
The goal of self-reflection is to take inventory of the direction of your life. It’s not really about the past, which can’t be changed. It’s more centered around analyzing your present actions and determining whether or not they’re leading you towards an exciting and fulfilling future.
It’s great if you’re inching towards a promotion at work, but what if it’s for a company that you don’t see yourself working for in three years? It’s awesome if you’re making daily progress towards a goal you set a few months ago, but what if that goal doesn’t actually align with your true values?
These are the kind of pitfalls that you can avoid with introspection. If there’s a disconnect between what you’re pursuing and what you actually want, it’s dangerous to continue down the path you’re on.
Why Is It Important To Engage In Self-Reflection?
Self-reflection is important because it helps you develop the one skill that we think we all have, but very few people really do.
What’s that skill? It’s self-awareness.
Having self-awareness is like going through life with a cheat code. It doesn’t make taking action and getting out of your comfort zone any easier, but it ensures that the action you do take is guided by the right principles.
When you have a comprehensive understanding of yourself, you’re able to realize what makes you unique from others. Knowing this empowers you to pursue the right goals that build upon your strengths and align with your values.
Asking yourself self-reflection questions also helps you understand what your shortcomings are and what you can do to address them.
Being open and honest with yourself about where you’re falling short isn’t fun. You may have to come to terms with the fact that you’re a chronic procrastinator, or a shitty friend.
Your ego is going to take a hit when you’re real and raw with yourself. It’s never gonna feel good to admit that you are 100% responsible for improving the things about your life that aren’t up to your satisfaction.
It’s much easier to blame the economy, or your parents, or the president. So when you make the choice to self-reflect, you’re committing to accepting whatever judgements you come up with no matter how threatening they are to your identity.
How To Apply These Self-Reflection Questions
Before we get into the five most powerful self-reflection questions to ask yourself daily, let’s talk about action steps for applying these questions into your life.
Most of the posts that you read around this topic will give you a giant list of 50+ questions just because it makes the post look better.
The goal of those articles is to give you ideas about what to ask yourself and get your creative juices flowing.
That’s fine, but that’s not the goal of this article. I don’t know about you, but I feel flat-out overwhelmed seeing a giant list of potential questions to ask myself.
That’s why in this article, I’m gonna keep the list short and stress-free. We’re only going to be covering five questions, which will limit your options and make it easier to pick one or two of these questions and take action.
5 Self-Reflection Questions To Ask Yourself Daily
Make sure that as you’re going through this list, you’re taking note of which of the questions really resonate with you.
My recommendation is to pick one or two of these questions and start posing them to yourself daily. It’s important to make this a daily ritual, because without consistency these questions lose their power.
Write down the answers to these questions in a journal or keep a document open on your laptop. Whichever method you prefer works fine as long as you have a record of your entries.
First thing in the morning and late at night are typically when we think deeply about the direction of our lives, so it’s best to save this ritual for that time of day.
Without further ado, here’s the list of the five best self reflection questions to ask yourself each day:
#1: “What’s today’s number one action that will move me towards my 12 month goal?”
There seems to be a misconception surrounding big goals. If you pull up any semi-popular motivational video on Youtube, you’ll likely hear people say things like:
- “Set big goals and don’t stop until you get there!”
- “You need to have big goals in life because playing it small doesn’t serve anybody.”
- “The key to success is to set big goals and discipline yourself to do whatever it takes to achieve them.”
There’s something to be said for traits like grit and perseverance, but the truth is that big goals overwhelm us. It may feel amazing to write them down, but it often doesn’t feel amazing when the time comes to act and start making progress towards them.
That’s because big goals serve as a reminder of how far we are from our desired state. Given the massive gap between where we are and where we want to be, our brain begins to question whether it’s even worth giving it a shot.
That’s why you’ll typically rub up against a powerful wall of internal resistance each day if you simply set big goals and let them sit. Breaking down your most ambitious goals into bite-sized, daily chunks can counter this phenomenon and make you much more likely to take action.
For example, one of my big goals that I’m working towards right now is 100 published blog posts. Given that each of my blog posts are typically between 2,000 to 4,000 words, this means producing 200,000 to 400,000 words of content!
That doesn’t even include the time it takes to edit the post, add images, and optimize it for search. Currently, I’ve published 48 posts on this blog, the one you’re reading is #49.
Even though I’m aware of this 100 post target, I don’t pay much attention to it on a daily basis. My only focus is on what it’s going to take today to make progress towards that goal.
Instead of thinking about how I have 52 more posts to go, my mind is laser-focused on the fact that I need to write 1,000 words today, or finalize editing and publishing a post.
Remember the 80/20 rule though. Ensure the task you’re focused on is high-priority and not just busy work that you can check off your to-do list.
So each morning when you ask yourself this question, think about the most important thing that needs to get done today if you want to stay on track with your 12 month goal. If you focus on the answer to this question every day for a year, the goal will take care of itself.
#2: “What are my values and do my current goals align with them?”
Setting goals is the first step towards getting what you want, but setting goals that align with your values is the first step towards liking what you get.
Deep down, we’re not really working towards our goals. What we’re all really working towards in a sense of satisfaction and inner peace. We simply want to feel good about who we are, and believe that goals are the route to achieving that state.
When we don’t take enough time to reflect on our values, we run the risk of going after artificial goals that are dictated by what other people tell us are important (buying a mansion, upgrading to our dream car, making millions of dollars).
The effects of setting goals that don’t align with your values are two fold. One, even if you achieve those goals there’s a chance you won’t find any meaning in them. Second, if your goals are misguided then so are your actions, meaning you’re not acting in alignment with your ideal self.
Neither of these routes lead to long-term fulfillment. That’s why this is one of the best self-reflection questions for a pulse-check on the trajectory of your life.
Here’s a perfect example from my own life. After dropping out of school to start a marketing agency, I began working 14 hour days in order to get it off the ground.
I had a goal to break $25,000/month in revenue. In pursuit of this goal, I gave up spending time with friends and maintaining close personal relationships. It didn’t bother me too much at first because I came into the journey knowing there would be sacrifices.
Here’s when things really started getting to me. As time went on, I was actually progressing quite nicely towards that $25.000/month target.
But despite that, anxiety and depression were a recurring theme in my life and my motivation was plummeting with each hour I put into the business. What I didn’t know then is that personal relationships are actually an integral part of my value structure.
Neglecting them meant betraying my ideal self and sabotaging my happiness. Always remember that despite what you feel right now, it’s entirely possible that your current goals are guided by the wrong principles.
Continually ask yourself what’s important in life and if you’re making time for it. Because if you’re not, something needs to change before you end up losing yourself.
#3: “What’s my biggest demon and what’s one small step I can take to address it?”
We all have that one character flaw that we’re most ashamed of. You may procrastinate, wake up a little late sometimes, and not give it your all at work – but that’s not what tortures your conscious on an hourly basis.
There’s likely something about your personality that you’d give up everything to fix – that is called your biggest demon.
Your biggest demon is the thing that 200 pound weight you carry around on a daily basis. It’s the last thing that you think about before you go to bed and the first thing you think about every morning.
If you want to make a change in your life that delivers maximum impact, then addressing your biggest demon is the easiest way to achieve that.
Because when you lift the heaviest weight first, everything else feels lighter. It’s easier to facilitate change in your life when you’ve already tackled and faced something that’s been bothering you for years, or maybe even decades.
It’s often where we least want to look that contains the treasures that we long to find. So brainstorm an action that would represent the smallest possible step towards slaying your biggest demon today.
If you’ve been out of shape for decades, maybe it’s getting off the couch and putting on your running shoes. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, maybe it’s sitting down and working for two minutes on something that you’ve been putting off.
Whatever you come up with, make sure it’s realistic enough that you can actually do it. Then do the same thing every damn day until the monkey is off your back and you’ve completely transformed who you are.
#4: How do I really feel about my personal relationships?
A long-term Harvard study on individual happiness that’s been running for over 75 years has found that the number one characteristic of people who live happy lives doesn’t have to do with money or fame.
The study found that the number one predictor of high life satisfaction comes down to having deep personal relationships.
The advice that close relationships are a crucial component of living a happy life is advice that’s old as time, so why is it so hard to follow?
Well, because what we’d really like is a quick fix or magic pill that will make us happy. The hard work of tending to friends and family isn’t sexy or glamorous. It’s also a life-long commitment – it never ends.
Given how important relationships are, it’s necessary that we take some time to reflect on the level of connection we feel within our social circle. Think about if you’re blocking off enough time for the people you care about, and also if you have enough of a support system to rely on.
Are your friends getting the crumbs of your time or are they a true priority in your life? Are you giving as much as you’re taking? If you have nothing to do on a Friday night, how confident are you that you could rely on your social circle to come up with something fun to do.
These questions will give you a good sense of how connected you are to your friends. Be honest about how the current state of your social life – the only person you’re hurting if you lie is yourself.
#5: “If I died today, what regrets would tear me up inside?”
Whether we realize it or not, death is coming for all of us. And as we go about our day to day lives, it’s easy to forget this cold truth.
Then every once in a while, someone famous dies or we hear about someone we know losing a family member and it hits us – the time we have on this earth is limited.
Coming to grips with our own mortality can lead to powerful insights. That’s why this is one of the most powerful self-reflection questions to ponder if you want a legit wake-up call about the changes you need to start making.
Imagine that you were on your deathbed and think about what your internal dialogue would sound like…
- What chances would you have regretted not taking?
- What people would you wish you had spent more time with?
- What habits would you have wished you would’ve gotten rid of?
- What dreams are going to your grave with you?
- What are the things that you wanted to do but were too afraid too?
Get to the heart of what you need to start prioritizing in life by imagining what you’d think about as it ends. This question should bring clarity as to what exactly you need to start putting your energy towards right now.
Final Thoughts On The Importance Of Self-Reflection
I hope you enjoyed this article talking about some of the most powerful self-reflection questions that you can start asking yourself on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, most people only get introspective when external circumstances force them to. They get a sudden health scare or someone close to them dies and they realize – “Fuck, I’m not doing the things that I want to be doing.”
It’s not fun to realize this when you’re 40, it’s pretty devastating to realize this at 50, it’s unbearable to realize this at 60, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to realize this at 70 and 80.
Use these self-reflection questions as a tool to avoid the immeasurable pain of regret. Figure out the kind of life you want to build and start taking small steps towards it.
Day by day. Brick by brick. There’s nothing stopping you as long as you’re self-aware about what long-term fulfillment means to you.
Once you have that figured out, the rest comes down to execution.