January 29, 2021

MOF Episode 22 – Nine Essential Questions for Self-Growth In Life

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In this latest podcast episode, we’re talking about Nine Essential Questions for Self-Growth in your life and marriage.

Transcript

Hey everybody, this is Gideon and welcome back to the sort of relaunch of Marriage on Fire. So I’ve been away for the past year, or it’s almost been a year and what I’ve been up to is, I’ve actually been studying and it is a journey that’s still continuing.

I’ve decided to take our postgraduate psychology, and that’s what I’ve been busy with for the past year. And, I’m continuing this year. My goal is to ultimately become registered as a psychologist here in New Zealand, but that is a story for another day.

Now, why is that important to you?

It’s important to you because I want to share with you, as sort of a lesson or a piece of wisdom that I’ve learned over the past year or two, and that is that ultimately life is not a rehearsal. This is it.

And it’s very important for us as people to not just only in our marriages, but in our lives as a rule and in general, to actually get to a point every now and again, when we look at our lives and ask ourselves the question: is my life actually heading in the direction that I wanted to head?

And am I actually busy with the stuff that I think are truly important to me (in life), or am I perhaps just stuck in it?

I’m going through the motions, I’m doing what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. Nothing’s really changed. I’m not really growing. I’m not really going anywhere, but in the meantime, as that’s happening, you know, life is. Life is ticking past, or ticking by, and, and I’m getting older but I’m not really, you know, achieving the things I want to achieve.

But in the same breath, I’m also complaining about the fact that my life is not really where I thought it would be at this stage of life.

So over the past two years, and especially in the last year, I’ve made a couple of decisions.

I got to a point where I realized that my life is not heading in the direction that I wanted to head.

I’m not busy with the things anymore that I want to be busy with and I’m not working on the stuff that I want to work on and I’m not creating and building the things that I want to build and create.

So I’ve decided to make a leap.

Obviously, it was an educated decision, you know, I didn’t just sort of blindly run into it or sort of made a blind leap.

Obviously, it was an educated thing and I had to put a couple of things in place to prepare for the exit.

But over the past year, I’ve been privileged and I’ve been blessed to spend time on studying psychology with a Massey University here in New Zealand.

And it’s been an absolute blast and I’m still enjoying the process and we’re about to get into the first semester in 2021, so I’m looking forward to that.

Why is this important to YOU?

Well, it’s important to you because I think it’s equally important for you to ask the question, whether you’re actually heading in the direction in your life that you thought you’d be heading in, given where you are right now in your life.

And I think it’s important for you to also in the context of what’s been happening over the past year with COVID-19, and what’s still happening around the world, I think it’s important for us to take stock every now and again. I think it’s important for you to take stock of where things are at in your life and ask yourself, is this actually what I want to be doing with my life?

Am I actually heading in the direction that I want to heading?

And am I actually using my life for the things that I want to use it for?

Because something that I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that unless you and I take stock, we asked this hard question and we actually start putting things in place to actually put our lives on a path that actually starts heading in the direction that we wanted to head, nobody is going to come and save us.

Nobody’s going to come in, you know, knock on your door and go, it’s time for you to change direction in your life.

That’s just not going to happen.

It’s something that you and I need to decide. You and I need to choose to do that. And obviously, we’ve gotta be smart about it.

And like I said, we’ve got to sometimes make calculated decisions but sometimes we also just need to take the plunge and we need to make a leap.

Because oftentimes our fears tend to step in and talk us out of it. And I’ve done that a few times over the past couple of years. But you know, fortunately, about two years ago, I decided that enough is enough and I made a major change and now my life is sort of heading in a different direction.

So that’s why it’s important to you.

And sort of on the back end of that, I thought to bring to you nine essential questions that I think are important to perhaps think about.

These are questions that I thought about, and I think these questions will also serve you, not just in your life, but also in your marriage, since we’re talking about marriage on this podcast.

So these nine essential questions you can ask really in any area of your life.

And I think they will ultimately give you some good food for thought.

I’m not going to go into all these questions too much and too long, but I want to you to just write them down, or if you’re listening to this episode on my blog, you can probably just also read the transcript below, but, but these nine essential questions I think are important to facilitate self-growth.

And as the world-renowned life coach, Tony Robbins always says, growth is ultimately where happiness and fulfillment really lie.

So, if we want to, if we want anything to remain in our lives, whether it’s money, happiness, marriage, satisfaction, you know, anything in our life reallly, we need to build something, we need to nurture that thing, and then we need to put things in place to, to kind of help it to keep growing. Because if something stops growing, it ultimately starts dying.

And so that is true of all of our lives.

It’s true for, you know, our marriages and our relationships.

So these nine essential questions will help you in a sense, deal with that and ask yourself, you know, am I still growing?

And if I’m not growing, what can I do about it?

So let’s quickly dive into the nine questions.

I’m going to just quickly go through them and hopefully, they will serve you.

So the first question I want you to ask yourself here at the start of 2021 is, What is the most important skill I am lacking right now?

So again, you can apply this question to your marriage, you can apply to your life, but I think it’s a very, very powerful question.

What is the most important skill I am lacking right now?

So at the start of 2020s, sort of at the end of 2019, I got to a point where I realized that if I wanted to go further in my life and do some other things to have a few more doors open for me moving forward. There are a couple of skills that I’m lacking, a couple of skills that I need to go and learn.

And fortunately we live in a time where it is so easy to get education.

It’s so easy to learn new skills, it is just sometimes a matter of focus. It’s sometimes a matter of self-discipline and dedication, but the availability and the access to information and to skills and to education are, you know, it’s definitely readily available for most of us who have an internet connection.

And so it starts with this question, however, if you know, what is the most important skill that I’m lacking right now?

And so that obviously in a sense, supposes or presupposes that you know, the direction that you want to go in, you kind of have clarity around the goal that you have for yourself.

And it’s when you have that clarity of the goal you have for yourself, it’s until you have that clarity, that you can then start filling in the blanks going after this goal, but now I’m lacking this skill to obtain this goal. And I now need to go and find a way to learn this skill, but it starts with this question, you know, what is the most important skill I’m lacking in the context or in relation to the goal that I’m trying to achieve?

But until you’ve asked this question, it is very easy to just sort of just go through the motions, literally, you know, let the years pass and without upskilling, without upgrading yourself, so to speak.

So right now, I want you to ask yourself, what do you feel you’re lacking in your life?

Which skill can help you most right now?

Which skill can actually open some doors for you?

Once you have clarity on that, you can actually go and find ways to, to get that skill, obtain it, and then put the things in place to ultimately obtain that stuff.

So question number one – What is the most important skill I’m lacking question.

Number two is, how do I get in my own way?

Now, this is a very important question because many of us actually self-sabotage, many of us actually sabotage our own efforts.

I’ve seen this so many times with couples who have the best intentions in the world, but when it comes to the actual practicality of it, their day-to-day living, couples tend to just sabotage their own results in a certain sense.

So, they have clarity around what they want to achieve and the goals, they even have clarity around what skills they lack and what they need to work on, but then when it comes to the actual application and the practicality of things, they tend to sabotage themselves for various reasons.

So it’s very important for us to actually examine our ways, examine ourselves and go, how am I actually getting in my own way?

How am I actually sabotaging my own success?

How are you getting in your own way from creating a happy relationship?

How are you getting in your own way from creating the type of life that you want?

Now, of course, there are many things that are outside of your control, many things that you just don’t have a say over.

I appreciate that.

But there are also many things inside of your control.

And oftentimes we don’t tap into these things or we don’t utilize these things to the maxim because we’re getting in our own way.

So a second question that is important or that’s important for you to ask yourself here at the start of 2021 is, how are you getting in your own way?

How am I, or how do I get in my own way that’s preventing me from achieving the results that I want in life?

A third important question that is very powerful and will create self-growth, if I could go back in time, what advice would I give my younger self?

If I could go back in time, what advice would I give my younger self?

Now, again, you can apply this to your marriage or your life in general, but hindsight is almost always 20/20, you know, it’s almost always 20/20, or like they say, hindsight is perfect sight.

And so, oftentimes we make mistakes or we made mistakes in the past, and many people make mistakes, but they never learn from it.

I always say to people, you know, your past is just filled with so many golden nuggets, so many pieces of wisdom that if you were to learn from them, to not, one, repeat the same mistakes, but if you were just to learn from them, you can actually grow exponentially from where you’re at right now.

But it starts with the question of actually reflecting on this idea of if I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to create a happy marriage or how to keep my spouse happy or how to be happy in myself, or how to be successful, how to be wealthy or how to invest better, how to be a better parent or whatever the case is.

You can apply this to any area of your life.

I think it starts with this powerful question, a question of reflection really, that if I could go back in time, what advice would I give my younger self?

I want you to ask yourself that question.

If you could go back in time right now, what advice would you give your younger self?

What are the lessons and the pieces of wisdom that you would teach your younger self?

Once you’ve identified those, they will give you insight into your current situation.

So the idea is not just to have insight, not just to identify these lessons and pieces of wisdom, but to actually turn them into action steps that can serve your life right now. Not just do this as sort of an exercise, you know, make it an exercise in futility, but make this an exercise that can actually change your life and change the course of the rest of this year.

What advice would you give your younger self, and what can you learn from that advice that you can apply to your life right now?

Which brings us to the fourth question, the fourth important question that will facilitate self-growth in your life in 2021 is.

What are my greatest strengths?

So many of us focus on our weaknesses.

So many of us work so hard to do away with our weaknesses, but you’re actually wasting a lot of time by doing that.

It actually serves you way more if you were to focus on your strengths and learn how to maximize your strengths and actually build your life on those strengths.

So make a list of your greatest strengths. And ask yourself, how can you apply those to your life?

How can you apply those to your marriage right now?

Because I understand that you know, and I know you understand this, that our weaknesses might hold us back, but ultimately it’s our strengths that can determine how high we can go, how high we can rise because weaknesses are in a sense, like, like a boat with an anchor.

Well, strengths are like the motor of that boat.

So the anchor holds us down. It holds us back. It keeps us a moving forward, but it’s really the motor, it’s the engine that keeps us moving forward.

So focus on your strengths, and you don’t know what your strengths are, go ask some family and friends. But identify your strengths and ask yourself, what are my greatest strengths and how can actually utilize those to actually take my life forward, or take my marriage forward, to build the type of life that I want?

I understood that for myself, a strength that I have, a superpower if you want, is my curiosity. And also my willingness to learn. I love learning new stuff, especially things that interest me, which I guess is the case for many people. But I love reading. I love learning. I love philosophizing. I love sharing ideas, learning ideas, and kicking the ball around or chewing the fat, whatever saying you want to go with.

And so that’s a superpower.

Many people don’t have that.

Many people are more practical.

They like being hands-on with stuff. I’m not a hands-on person, but I like using my mind. I like using my brain. And so studying for me came sort of naturally, but it’s also a natural common sense option for me.

So you’ve got to figure out what your strengths are and how you can apply those to your life, to take it in a direction that you want.

But it starts with the question of what are my greatest strengths.

You’ve got to identify those, which brings us to the fifth question which is, what am I able to control in my life? Or what am I able to control in my marriage?

But the reality is, is that worrying about things that are outside of your control is an absolute waste of time.

The stoic philosophers were very, very big on this idea that you only need to focus on the things that are inside of your control and let the rest, you know, let the rest kind of fall as they may, as the saying goes.

Unfortunately, a lot of people focus on things that are outside of their control. And so they render themselves powerless. They kind of drive themselves into anxiety and stress and depression and all these types of things, because they’re overly focusing on things that they have no control over.

You kind of saw this during the first year of dealing with COVID-19 around the world. Especially if you spend time on social media. Everyone and his mate came out of the woodworks and everyone had an opinion on everything. So many conspiracies that came out.

And so many people, everyone was suddenly an expert on everything. And the reality though is that on many of the things that people were trying to be experts on, and things that people were arguing about and stressing out about, were things that were completely outside of their control.

Ironically, the things that are inside of people’s control, or were inside of people’s control, they kind of just overlooked or didn’t really, you know, focus on those too much. But the same goes for just everyday life and when it comes to our relationships.

So the point is that there are things that you control and there are things that you don’t control if you want to move forward in terms of creating the life and the relationship and the marriage that you want.

If you start focusing on the things that you actually do control, but it starts with the question of identifying the things that you’re able to control and letting go of the things that you don’t control because focusing on those and working on those, or spending all your time and energy on those, is essentially a complete waste of your time.

So stop wasting time on the things that you don’t control.

Start focusing on the things that you do control. Don’t just be aware of them, but actually start focusing on them and start tapping into them, start doing something about the things that you do control.

Which brings us to question number six, and that’s the question of, What do I want to stand for, now?

This is perhaps a question of legacy, perhaps a question of values, but I think it’s important for you and me to at some point, at least in our lives, consider this question of what do I want to stand for? What do I want to be remembered for? You know, how do you want to be thought of at the end of your life?

Now I know that’s a question that’s perhaps more important for people who are kind of entering that last season of life, that is just part of that developmental stage of humans. But it’s also important, I think for the rest of us to sometimes reflect on that and to think about, you know, what do I want to stand for?

How do I want people to think of me? And this is not a question of ego. This is not a question of caring so much about what people think of you, but this is a question of perhaps more ethics and values and the morals that you want to build your life on and that you want to live by.

But it starts with the question of what I want to stand for and getting clarity around what do you want to stand for? And then looking at your life, looking at your marriage and going, is my life and is my marriage actually reflective of that.

Until you kind of deal with that question and think about that question, it’s very easy to just, again, go with the flow. You’re just doing one day after the other, one year after the other, day after day, month after month, year after year, and not really thinking about where you’re going, what you’re busy with, and whether you’re actually heading in the direction that you’ve actually hoped that your life would go, you know, perhaps earlier in your life.

So what do you stand for?

What do you w what do you want to stand for?

Ask yourself, is my life actually reflective of that?

Am I doing, or what am I doing that is actually reflective of that, over reflecting these things that I say I want to stand for, because it’s one thing to say it, but it’s another thing to actually build your life on those things and make it representative of the things that you want to stand for, which brings us to the seventh question…

and that is, if I could accomplish one great thing in my life or my marriage, what would that be?

Now, that’s maybe an outflow of the previous question, but have you thought about this question?

It’s something that I thought about over the last two years quite a bit actually, is that, if I could accomplish one great thing in my life, what would it be?

Well, I’ve got, I’ve got not one, but I’ve got a couple and they’re all written down. I’ve written them up on my board and I can actually look at them right now, as I’m recording this episode for you. But you’ve got to have clarity for yourself about the things that you want to achieve.

What is something that you want to accomplish, a goal in your life, a great thing in your life?

And what is it, do you know what it is, do you have clarity around that? And more importantly, have you started putting the things in place to actually achieve that very thing because if you’re like most people and if you’re like, I used to be, you would have all these goals and some of them are great, some of them are not so great. Some are big, some are small, but oftentimes we have all these goals because somebody told us to make goals, but they’re kind of just something that we wrote on a piece of paper. We wrote them on a board or maybe just made a note on a phone, but we never really do anything about it.

So over the last two years, I’ve sort of done the same thing. And I realized that it’s now or never, that I need to stop just writing down goals and actually need to start putting things in place to actually start achieving those goals and going after them. And so I wrote those goals down and they’re still are my board.

There are a couple of things that I want to achieve that I think or deem to be great things for me, but there’s something I’ve done differently. This time I’ve actually put things in place to start pursuing them, daily things that I can do, weekly things that I can measure and track. And I know I’m sort of heading in the direction that I want to head, and I’m on my way to achieving those things because it’s not just a pie in the sky anymore.

I’m actually doing the very things that are required to achieve the things that I want to achieve, but it starts with the question.

Again, around clarity, what is a great thing that I want to accomplish with my life?

And if there’s a great thing, what would it be?

This brings us to the eighth and second to last question, which I think is an important question to reflect on.

And that is a question of what is the biggest limit I’ve imposed upon myself.

Oftentimes, when we start thinking about goals, we start thinking about achieving certain things, we actually impose limits on ourselves.

It’s almost like once you’ve written something down, your mind sort of kicks in when it realizes what you’re busy with and then talks you out of it, by coming up with all these reasons and excuses of why you can’t achieve this thing that you’re saying you want to achieve.

Well, the reality is is that oftentimes these things that we deem to be reasons not to achieve something, or why we can’t achieve something, is oftentimes just a belief. It’s not, it’s not even the truth. It’s oftentimes just a belief, and it’s something that you and I need to resist with tooth and nail because sometimes the people that sort of put the biggest limits on us, are ourselves. That imposes, the biggest limits on us is, is us, and nobody else.

And so I want you to start asking yourself this question in 2021, what is the biggest limit that I’ve imposed upon myself?

You know, perhaps you want to be a better husband or a better wife or better dad or whatever the case is. But immediately, when you think about that, there is this voice that says to you, who you’re kidding, you know your upbringing wasn’t beneficial or didn’t teach you what you need to know, or you’re not smart enough, or you’re not clever enough, or you’re not this enough, or you’re not that enough.

Understand that oftentimes that little voice that speaks is just, in a sense, the voice of fear.

And these fears are oftentimes just based on, on beliefs that are unreal or beliefs that are fake, you know, beliefs that are untrue. Or as, you know, the acronym of FEAR goes, false evidence appearing real. And oftentimes that’s just what it is. It is just false evidence appearing real and you, and I need to resist that and overcome that.

And sometimes the best way of doing that is to actually just take the fear head on because the more you, in a sense face the fear, the more you run at the fear, the more you realize it’s just a figment of your imagination.

It is really just something in your head and the more you take something on, and the more you start achieving something, the more you realize you can achieve that very thing, which kind of gives you confidence. And once you have confidence, nothing can stop you.

So it starts with this question of what’s the biggest limit I’ve imposed upon myself?

What’s the biggest limit that you’ve been imposing on yourself over the last couple of years, that’s been keeping you from achieving the results that you want in your life or your marriage?

Identify those things and go to task on them by running at them, face the fear and doing your darnedest to actually get rid of them. And the best way to do that is actually action. Just take action, one step at a time, but it starts with the question and identifying the things that have been keeping you back.

Which brings us to the last question that I think is an important question to ask, and that is, whom or what do I blame for my challenges?

This is a big one. You know, so many couples that I’ve worked with and people that talk to me all the time, it is so easy to blame someone else or something else for the results that I’m getting in my life.

The truth, however, is that oftentimes the only person or the only thing that can really be blamed for the results I’m getting in my life is just again myself.

And the only way that I can actually start creating the results I want in my life, start creating the successes I want in my life, is actually to take ownership, to take responsibility.

Again, this is an idea that the Stoic philosophers focused on quite a bit, taking responsibility, taking ownership, taking control of the things that you control and not giving that back.

So in a sense, it is about taking your power back, to not disempower yourself, but to empower yourself by understanding that you cannot blame something or someone else for where you’re at now.

Of course, there are things that happen to us, of course, there are.

Contextual factors, things that happen in our lives, things that are outside of our control. But you know, even when those things are happening, because they’ll keep happening, we call that life, it’s still your and my responsibility to respond to those things in whatever way possible, in whatever way is positive and as possible for us.

We might not be able to control what happens to us, but we do control how we respond to it.

And so ultimately you and I need to ask ourselves the question every now and again when we feel that we’re getting depressed or we’re getting stressed out or we’re just not heading in a direction that we want to head, or our life is not really, you know, in the type of situation that we thought it would be in. Or we’re not in this type of situation that we thought we’d be in.

We need to sometimes just ask ourselves the question who or what, whom or what do I blame for my situation, for my challenges right now?

Because until you kind of let go of the blame game, until you let go of this victim mentality, that many of us take on board, because it’s so easy and so simple, until we take responsibility for what we can be doing or what we should be doing to start moving things forward again, until that happens, nothing’s going to change.

And you’ve got to understand that, you know, nothing will change until something changes. And oftentimes the most important thing that needs to change is our mindset as it’s now.

Again, two years ago, I got to the same point where I realized that I was blaming many things for the situation I was in. And it wasn’t even that my situation was bad. It’s just like, I wasn’t really in the place that I thought I wanted to be in.

And it’s so easy to blame so many things.

But it’s until you look in the mirror, you face the truth and you face the music, and you start asking hard questions of yourself, realizing that you’ve actually been the person that’s been keeping you back, holding you back, and keeping you prisoner.

Until you get to that point, you’re not going to make the decisions that you need to make today to start moving your life forward to reach the place you want to reach tomorrow.

And that’s a very important realization to get to.

So about two years ago, that’s where I got to. And another, over the past year, that’s what I’ve been working on.

And hopefully I can continue that journey, but I want to encourage you to go on their journey with me just in your situation.

You don’t need to start studying. You don’t need to take up the books. You You don’t need to do a course. You don’t need to do anything that reflects my journey.

But I want you to look at your own journey, ask yourself these nine questions and also ask yourself, you know, am I still growing?

Am I still growing as a person is?

As a couple, is my marriage and is our marriage still growing and still going in a direction that we want it to go in?

Are we actually heading to the things that we want to head towards?

Are we going to reach the destination that we envision?

And are we doing the things that are required to reach that destination?

Have we put those things in place?

I want you to start asking yourself the hard questions.

It’s my aim and it’s my goal after I’ve resurrected this podcast now in 2021, to bring you some hard questions to help you with that. Not to judge you, not to put you in any negative mindset, not to make it harder for you, but you know, to keep it real.

Because ultimately, as I said earlier, nothing changes until something changes.

And oftentimes that’s an uncomfortable conversation to have with ourselves, to have with our spouses, with our partners.

But until we do that, nothing, nothing will change.

And as I said earlier at the start of the podcast, bringing this to a close today, this is not a rehearsal. Life is not a rehearsal. You get one chance to make the best of this life at least.

I’m going to challenge you to do that in 2021, regardless of what’s happening around you.

Take charge of yourself, take ownership of yourself, control what you control, let go of the rest and let’s make it a good one.

Talk to you guys soon. See ya.



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About the author
Gideon

Gideon is the creator of The Relationship Guy – a Top Marriage Coaching and Relationship Advice Blog that helps married couples create happier relationships. He is a trained professional counsellor and one of New Zealand’s top relationship bloggers. He’s been happily married for over fifteen years and is a dad of two.​ He also holds Bachelor and Master degrees in the field of Theology and is currently studying Psychology at Massey University.

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