magic 8ball 300x300Often we live with a feeling of vague dissatisfaction. We achieve, we win, we climb the ladder, and still we may be in a sort of fog where it feels as if it’s not enough. And perhaps this makes us feel guilty, or ungrateful, or uninspired.


But there’s a way out. Asking ourselves, or even having someone we trust ask us pointed questions about our true goals can be key to clearing the fog.


Asking the right questions

The right questions force us to identify what really matters – what we truly want from our life – and determine if our current path is actually leading us there.


Some people NEVER ask themselves the right questions. They do what they do out of routine, or because it’s what they think is expected of them by a parent or partner. Maybe they performed well as young students, and they got a degree in something that was somewhat aligned with what they were good at in school, so they got a job in that, and they’ve been on the treadmill ever since.


For these people, a coach can be instrumental in ask these pointed, “next-level” questions. To someone who isn’t sure what to expect from a coaching meeting, it could seem like a coach just asks a bunch of very personal questions about why you do what you do, or why you want what you want. It might even seem intrusive. But the value lies in answering for yourself the question of WHY you’re doing what you’re doing.


“Next-level” questions uncover what’s truly important

Other people ask themselves questions of “why”, but maybe don’t go as deep as they could. Consider this possible exchange between a coach and a client:

Client:  I want to position myself for a manager role in my company.
Coach:  What will you have when you’re a manager?
Client:  More responsibility, more money.
Coach:  And when you have more responsibility, more money… What will you have?
Client:  I don’t know. More clout? The ability to get the next job I want after that, maybe.
Coach:  OK, so more clout to get your next job. What job do you see yourself wanting after that?
Client:  I don’t know, I haven’t thought about that.


(For another example of this type of questioning, click here to read a short article with an excerpt of dialogue from an episode of the TV show Mad Men where this type of question is used to good effect.)


This second type of person is certainly more self-aware than the first, which is great, but… What’s the “right” level of self-awareness? When do you know it’s OK to stop asking questions? How do you know you’ve uncovered the core of what you truly want?


How do you know you’ve gotten to the core?

It’s usually a new awareness. An “ah-ha” moment, perhaps. It could be a realization like,

Oh, I guess until I started thinking about it, I didn’t realize how important stability is for me, and that’s why I want more that managerial position that pays more money, because having more savings helps me feel more stable.


Or an increased awareness like,

Once I started digging into what I really liked about my last job, the variety and that feeling of ‘being on’, I finally made the connection that that’s when I’m at my best… Not just at work, but in general.


If everything’s going well, and things are humming along, there may be no need to ask yourself these next-level questions. However…


If something’s eating away at you, or there’s an itch that’s bugging you but you’re not sure how to scratch it, asking these “yeah, but why…”, “next-level” questions can help you connect with what’s truly important to you, and spur you to take action that moves you toward getting more of that in your life.


Want to know more about “next-level” questions and how you can ask yourself more of them? Click here to access our Next-Level Question Exercise.