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6 questions you need to ask to achieve your goals

Sometimes, situations may throw you off the course toward your goals. Here are some ways you can ensure you stay on track.



“Fate is the hand of cards we’ve been dealt. Choice is how we play the hand.”

When trying to set goals we come up for ourselves, temptations and triggers to bad behavior are everywhere. When we want to lose weight, co-workers bring fresh baked cookies to work, neighbors invite us to a juicy BBQ, and the mall is giving out free chocolate. There’s always something to throw us off the course.

We think our newfound enthusiasm for change and strong willpower will make us safe from bad environmental triggers. However, willpower can only do so much, and enthusiasm fades.

Or maybe we do achieve our cherished goal to lose weight, become the best salesperson, run that marathon, only to return to our old ways. What will keep us going once the goal is achieved? How will we keep the weight off, keep making sales, or get out of bed to go running on a cold morning?

Marshall Goldsmith, executive coach and author of “Triggers,” says the key is in constant feedback by using active daily questions. When there is a direct cause and effect, we can easily make the right choices.


Active questions provide you with the feedback loop you need to stay on track for new goals or persist with old ones. (Photo by DepositPhotos)

Use active questions

Active questions provide you with the feedback loop you need to stay on track for new goals or persist with old ones. Your answers can show where you are having success and where you are giving up. By making questions active, you focus on the quality of your daily effort.

When Goldsmith used these six questions in his studies, he found that 37 percent improved in all six areas, 65 percent improved in at least four, and 89 percent improved in at least one.

  • Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  • Did I do my best to be happy today?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

However, you can alter your questions to meet your specific goals as long as you focus on your effort by adding the phrase, “Did I do my best to…”

Rate your effort

The answers to your questions are not a simple yes or no. To show your progress toward your goal, you need to rate your daily effort for each question on a scale of one to 10.

Use a spreadsheet for each question, and update it with a number each night. This way, you can see how well you are working toward your goal. When you see a streak of 10s, you will know you are on target. Likewise, a pattern of zeroes will pinpoint where you need to refocus your effort.

Have someone check on your effort

Accountability is a strong force for goal success. When you make these goals public, you cannot hide from what you have done. So ask a friend or family member to call you each night to ask how you are doing.

In one example Goldsmith gave, a young woman was trying to exercise each day but had a long line of zeroes for daily exercise. Her accountability partner asked her why she had this goal if she wasn’t committed to doing it. The young woman immediately changed track, joined a gym that week, scheduled time for exercise in her daily routine, and the numbers on her sheet went up each night as she made progress toward her goal.

Be warned: This method is not for everyone—only for people who want to actually achieve goals.

(Featured image via DepositPhotos)

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Kyle is the Marketing Coordinator at BigSpeak speakers bureau, an Inc. 5000 company, where he works with many of the top thought leaders, business writers, and keynote business speakers in the world. As a content creator, he has helped establish the voice and brand for organizations such as BigSpeak and the Graduate Student Association of UC Santa Barbara. His background is in business writing, multimedia marketing, and international education. Before becoming a marketer, Kyle taught business writing for Fort Hays State University in Shenyang, China. Kyle holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, M.A. in Foreign Languages from the University of Delaware, and a B.A. in History from Pennsylvania State University.