Have you ever noticed when you ask yourself an open ended question your mind goes to work and brings forth answers? Sometimes the answers come immediately, sometimes they come to you while you are sleeping, sometimes they materialize in the world in the form of a coincidence.
Let me give you some examples. I've talked with many people who say to me, "I could never do a triathlon; I can't swim." Their brain receives that message loud and clear and turns its attention to something else. Compare this to the person who says, "A triathlon? Well, I don't know how to swim. I wonder if I could do a triathlon and if I could learn how to swim?" Now their brain begins to recognize opportunities to learn how to swim. Maybe it's a flyer posted on a wall for swimming lessons, maybe its at a party and someone is talking about their first triathlon and the person initiates a conversation inquiring how this other person did their first triathlon. Maybe like in my case as I am flipping through the list of courses offered at Chico State there is a PE course called, "Triathlon 101."
What if we made a practice of asking ourselves questions on a daily basis? Questions that serve us and help us create more fulfilled lives.
For example, how can you experience more enthusiasm today? How can you bring more enthusiasm to what you are doing today? If you come up blank, this is an excellent opportunity to create for yourself a moment in your day that brings you joy. Ask yourself, "What can I do that would bring me joy? Once the answer comes, plan it into your day and execute. When you experience the joy make note that you created this moment and you can do so tomorrow and the next day as well.
I ask myself a series of questions each morning and each night and without a doubt doing so has improved my mental state a thousand times over.
I'll give you an example from just this week. A few days ago when I was asking myself, "Did I live today? Did I feel alive?" The answer quite honestly was NO. Then I asked myself what I could have done that would have changed my answer to those questions. On this particular day I worked 9+ hours and I did not exercise. I knew that had I gone on a bike ride or for a run I would have felt more alive. So the next day I vowed to myself that I would go run. The next night when I ask myself the same question, my answer was YES. As I looked back on my day I recognized two events that made me really feel alive and added more enjoyment to my day. One was my run at lunch time and the other was going out with my wife to get a bite to eat and a pint at Crux Brewery. Those two activities were planned as a way to create more enthusiasm for life.
Another extremely powerful question to ask is, "What if?" Unfortunately we often ask these "What if" questions and immediately go to the negative as in what if I take this risk and I fail? Any time you find yourself doing this immediately ask yourself the same question and focus on the positive outcomes. As in, "What if I take this risk and I am successful? What would that mean for me and for my life? How would that positively impact my life? How would it positively impact other's lives?" Answering a "What if" question in the negative is your survival mechanisms way of "keeping you safe" while answering in the positive is the beginning of action and growth and maybe even a life transformation!
Another version of the "What if" question is what I experienced after my first IRONMAN Triathlon back in 1993 when I asked myself, "If I just completed this thing I thought was impossible, what else could I do?" If you're read my book, Live Big: Crossing the finish line is just the beginning you know that my asking this question set my life on an entirely different path and completely changed the direction and the experiences of my life.
If you find this blog post resonates with you and you want to know more about the questions I ask myself each day please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org as I have a whole lot more I'd love to share on this topic. Go out TODAY and live your best life!
Lance Carter is a triathlon coach as well as a nine-time IRONMAN® triathlon participant who has been training and racing since 1993. He is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Successful Triathletes. See more at lancecartercoaching.com.