This post is a two-part series on the Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Everyday. Part II will be released next week.

Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Last year, I read a book called Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and summarized my key takeaways. It’s an excellent book about how triggers in your environment can have a significant impact on your behaviour whether you’re aware of it or not.

One of the key takeaways from Triggers was about the power of awareness in helping us change our behaviour. Changing our behaviour – especially as an adult – is possibly one of the most difficult challenges we’ll ever face. After all, we’ve ingrained behaviours and routines for years and years, and changing our behaviours can mean fundamentally changing the way we live.

Goldsmith provides a really practical tool to help us create awareness called the Six Daily Questions. The concept is simple – ask yourself six questions at the end of every single day and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 based on how well you think you did with the question.

I was a little skeptical about this concept at first but I decided to trial it for a few weeks to see if it made an impact in my life. After all, Goldsmith is one of the most celebrated leadership coaches of all time and I figured what works for them might work for me.

Before we go through the questions, I should explain how these questions should be asked. I’ve journaled in the past to questions like “What was the highlight of my day?” or “List three things you are you grateful for today” but I often felt a disconnect with the questions.

I’m not sure how to explain this but when I was answering those types of questions it felt more like a passive exercise. Almost like I was recounting someone else’s day (although it was my day) and it lacked the sense of forward progress on why I did what I did that day.

Don’t get me wrong, I think reflection is very important in creating awareness, but with the goal of becoming a better version of myself everyday, I felt like those reflections questions weren’t capturing those thoughts properly.

So here’s how Goldsmith’s Six Questions differ: they all begin with the phrase “Did I do my best to…?”

When you start every question with “Did I do my best to…?” the question goes from passive reflection to active thinking. Instead of “Did I achieve this goal today?”, you’re asking yourself what effort did I put in to achieve this goal? The question becomes about the intention and effort you put into that goal rather than the result.

With Goldsmith’s Six Questions, you’re not trying to control the result (we often don’t have immediate control over that) but you’re trying to develop the improvement process. This makes every question I ask a lot more powerful because now I have the ability to honestly answer to myself – did I really do my best today or is there room for improvement?

Hopefully that makes sense. Now, onto the six questions.

Goldsmith’s Six Questions

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

These are six great questions to start with and will provide you with a baseline of questions to answer everyday. Below you’ll find a slightly different version with seven questions I ask myself everyday.

My Seven Questions

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress towards my goals today?
  3. Did I do my best to create meaning for myself or others today?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy today?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?
  7. Did I do my best to be physically and emotionally healthy today?

You’ll notice that Question #3 for me is modified slightly to clarify that meaning can be created for me or for others. Question #7 was added as health and wellness – both physically and mentally – are important pieces for me.

Your questions might look different than mine or Goldsmith’s – and that’s okay. You have different objectives and priorities in your life so making the questions relevant to them is critical to making this “sticky” for you.

Regardless of which questions you end up with, my recommendation is to setup some sort of system – a notebook, an Word document, a spreadsheet, etc. – to help you keep track of your scores. Remember, you’re scoring yourself between a 1 to 10. With 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

At a minimum, try these questions out over a period 21 days. Even if you need to stop after 21 days, you’ll get a good baseline of where you stand with your questions. You’ll build awareness of areas in your life that you’ve got under control, that might be a little of out of control, and bring light to areas that you thought were important but maybe not as much as you originally thought.

In Part II of this post (to be released next week), I’ll take you through how to make this process even stickier by introducing the accountability partner, a spreadsheet template, and automation tools to help you remember to record your scores. If you think of this article here as the WHY you should ask these questions, Part II is more of HOW and WHAT of implementing this in your life.