49 Questions to Improve Your Results

Good questions prime your brain to look at the world in a different way. By simply holding a question in your mind and pondering potential answers, you can find unexpected paths to get from where you are now to where you want to be.

This afternoon, I re-discovered a list of questions I put together a few years ago. The intent of the list was to help me figure out what I wanted to improve about my life, both as a person and as a professional. This list helped me figure out who I was and what I wanted during a particularly difficult time in my career, and I sincerely hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Here are 49 questions you can use to improve your results…

Do I use my body optimally?

  • What is the quality of my current diet?
  • Do I get enough sleep?
  • Am I managing my energy well each day?
  • How do I manage daily stress?
  • Do I have good posture and poise?
  • What can I do to improve my ability to observe the world around me?

Do I know what I want?

  • What achievements would make me really excited?
  • What “states of being" do I want to experience each day?
  • Are my priorities and values clearly defined?
  • Am I capable of making decisions quickly and confidently?
  • Do I consistently focus my attention on what I want vs. what I don’t want?

What am I afraid of?

  • Have I created an honest and complete list of the fears I’m holding on to?
  • Have I confronted each fear to imagine how I would handle it if it came to pass?
  • Am I capable of recognizing and correcting self-limitation?
  • Am I appropriately pushing my own limits?

Is my mind clear and focused?

  • Do I systematically externalize (write or record) what I think about?
  • Am I making it easy to capture my thoughts quickly, as I have them?
  • What has my attention right now?
  • Am I regularly asking myself appropriate guiding questions?
  • Do I spend most of my time focusing on a single task, or constantly flipping between multiple tasks?
  • Do I spend enough time actively reflecting on my goals, projects, and progress?

Am I confident, relaxed, and productive?

  • Have I found a planning method that works for me?
  • Am I “just organized enough"?
  • Do I have an up-to-date list of my projects and active tasks?
  • Do I review all of my commitments on a regular basis?
  • Do I take regular, genuine breaks from my work?
  • Am I consciously creating positive habits?
  • Am I working to shed non-productive habits?
  • Am I comfortable with telling other people “no"?

How do I perform best?

  • What do I particularly enjoy?
  • What am I particularly good at doing?
  • What environment do I find most conducive to doing good work?
  • How do I tend to learn most effectively?
  • How do I prefer to work with and communicate with others?
  • What is currently holding me back?

What do I really need to be happy and fulfilled?

  • How am I currently defining “success"?
  • Is there another way of defining “success" that I may find more fulfilling?
  • How often do I compare myself to my perceptions of other people?
  • Am I currently living below my means?
  • If I could only own 100 things, what would they be?
  • Am I capable of separating necessity and luxury?
  • What do I feel grateful for in my life and work?

Pick up a journal, set aside a few hours, and spend time with yourself answering these questions. Make it fun: treat yourself to a nice lunch or dinner at a restaurant you like, and write as you eat. By the time the check arrives, you’ll have more than a few new ideas about how to change your life or business for the better.


Read more essays by Josh Kaufman →


Published: September 15, 2009Last updated: September 15, 2009

Books by Josh Kaufman