The 10 Questions that changed my Life
Updated: Jul 22, 2019
Personal growth is a constant journey, sometimes you feel you are heading in the right direction taking steps forward and some days you just feel lost, it happens to everyone at some point. At one of my most lost points last year, when I was questioning everything, I took a step back and asked myself some hard questions, these 10 questions fundamentally helped me focus my energy, gave me a guiding light and got me back on track.
I wanted to share them with you and tell the story of what they meant to me and I hope they can help others who may be in a similar place.
We all get exhausted, broken and burnt-out
In order for me to explain how I got to these 10 questions, it’s important I share some context on the situation. Over the previous year I had gone through some pretty life changing situations, I’d let go of a 6 year relationship, sold the company I had built, and moved in by myself after buying my first property.
All these things are pretty major life changing moments and I had done them at speed, within a year, not really slowing down to take in what had happened or give myself the time to reflect or repair. I distracted myself with things, buying things, taking things to give me a high, throwing myself into new things and people, trying to keep up the momentum and energy, but underneath it all I was exhausted, broken and burnt-out.
For some reason, I didn’t talk to anyone about it, I wasn’t sure what I was feeling so I just keep trying to tell myself to be positive and keep going. I put up motivational quotes, tried to get up and be happy and work through the pain but one day I just couldn’t. I had always related pain to growth (not a good thing I’ve realised) and if you don’t feel something you aren’t moving forward but this was a numbing pain that took my energy and creativity away as I struggled to come to terms with my own new identity and reality. Now, looking back it was clear to see I was burnt out, suffering from depression and lacking in direction.
It's Ok not to be Ok.
Over the last few years I’ve encountered depression first hand with some of the people closest to me, I’ve seen it’s destructive nature and spent time learning about human phycology to give myself a better understanding, but it had never happened to me. For the first time in my life I felt helpless, drowning and unable to process my own thoughts or re-create my own reality - it’s really not a nice place to be. I understand everyone has different issues and I believe with the world we live in now everyone at some point will go through times of feeling low, being depressed and lacking energy. We live in a generation with so much pressure to be perfect, so many distractions and a real lack of human connection that I think it’s almost impossible to avoid.
Underlying this story is the true fact that it’s okay, not be okay and more men need to be able to admit this. One man every minute dies of suicide and 88% of suicides are men, these are alarming facts that as a society we need to face and tackle. The truth is no one is alone so it's important that we talk about it and understand the truth.
We all get stuck sometimes.
We all lose sight of who we are.
We all miss the person we were.
We all grieve the person that we could have been.
We all forget what we came upstairs for.
We all lose sight of where we are going.
We all at some point will have to face some tough times and in this article I give you the 10 big life questions that I asked myself in order to help give me some clarity and that got my back on the right road.
So for me it was important to share how I felt, what I had discovered in my journey as well as the steps I took to help me get back on the road to recovery and what I learn’t along the way, so hopefully the questions that helped me will be able to help someone else.
Start with 10
One of the biggest factors of my unhappiness was the fact all my energy was spent going outwards, on my business, people, new projects etc I didn’t give myself the time to or space to listen to my own body and I didn’t also have the energy to do deep work needed to work on myself that I needed. I was grieving about letting go of the person I was and scared to transition into the person I know I could be. I’m also not sure that I was ready to answer the deep questions that I had to have about my own life and identity that I needed to deal with, it’s very hard to not know where your destination is, and if you don’t know where you are going, its easy to feel lost.
Most people avoid the big questions and deep work as it's scary. It's where you face your demons, fight the darkest bits to yourself and find out whats holding you back. Learning to listen to yourself is a real skill, one i'm still learning.
So, I decided to start by writing down 10 key questions that I wanted to answer to give me some focus and help me align my own thoughts and feelings, this was key as it allowed me to express what my vision was and re-create the reality I was working toward. The 10 questions are quite defining and the output may take a few days or even weeks to get down but I can’t explain the value of getting the answers and the benefits of having something down on paper to keep you focused and pushing the energy you do have in moving forward and keeping motivated.
The 10 questions are from a combination of books, courses and videos I watched on self development and growth and the ones I connected with most, they are a guide to help give some clarity and the start of the process I put in place to find a happier, healthier me.
1) What are your truths of life?
The Truths of Life are statements that you believe are true for the way the world works, eg
“No one is perfect"
"There is no need to overthink things ”
"Life is not fair"
Write down as many as you feel connect with you.
2) What are your values
The Values are principles and ideals you believe in eg
"Listen as much as you talk"
"Stay curious, always eager to learn"
"Show kindness, fairness and empathy to others"
3) Whats your Cornerstone statement - a sentence that sums up your beliefs, goals and wisdom mine went something like this.
“Follow your passions, find people who inspire you and work together to build things that make the world better. Work hard, enjoy the adventure, travel the world and love fully, don’t forget to smile along the journey.”
4) What is your mission?
What's the your North Star, something that can guide you, like a business a mission statement keeps you on track.
Mine was ““Change yourself, improve the world, create awesome things”
5) What moves you and makes you feel most alive?
These are a list of things that move you, what makes you feel something and gets your energy up people, passions, experiences, write them down.
eg. "I feel most alive when i'm in my creative flow with people I can bounce off"
6) What three things are you most grateful for?
Really important. I try and do this one weekly now, if not daily.
eg. My health, my family and the people who believe in me.
7) What are your top 3 strengths and weaknesses?
Be honest here, ask other people there opinions if you have too.
eg. Keeping focus and my own self doubt
8) What are you going to do to improve both?
Put a plan in place, seeing an improvement even small really helps with confidence.
eg. Don't beat myself up so much
9) What is your biggest fear?
There could be more that one, but don’t look at fear as an enemy, lean in and really try to understand what may be holding you back.
eg. Not achieving my potential
10) What would you do if money wasn’t an option and no one would laugh?
This is a great one, it usually uncovers interesting answers and will tell you a lot about yourself.
eg. Be an Astronaut
How it changed my life
Once I had my answers, which took over a month to get down and feel happy with, I printed them and put them on my wall so I could be reminded of them daily. I also created a vision board with images, quotes and statements. I started to feel the direction and belief come back into my life, slowly but surely every day. I started to work on my overall life goals and vision, I knew my current values and beliefs and where I was ultimately headed and felt more positive about the direction. It also helped to align with people who had similar goals, values and beliefs, it cemented a way to move forward, even if it was one step at a time.
The answers to the ten questions defined what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, I had stopped looking at the micro and was now focused on the macro, for the first time in my life. Ultimately in life we will all fall over and face fear at some point that we will need to face, but we need to start focusing not on the things we want, but the person we need to be to get them, this process for me was transformational.
The journey for me is still on going. Self awareness, self development, dealing with the ups and downs of life is something I now see as a constant learning curve. In my next article I will share phase two in which I built myself a daily programme to help back up my belief with real action and behaviour but, honestly, it all started with these 10 questions. So, give it a go and let me know how you get on. I know understanding who you are and why you are isn't easy, but it is life-changing and the first step to becoming the person you deserve to be.
A year on, i'm happier, healthier and more focused than ever - call it a mid life crises, call it a cry for help, call it depression, call it what you want but knowing I got out the other side means I know I can beat it, and if you are going through something similar it's going to be ok, you can beat it too.
If this connects to you or you would like to chat over how you feel, reach out, it's always better to talk than face it alone. I hope some of these questions have made you think, if it has don't forget to share them onto someone that may need them.
You can follow my latest journey via social media, @philkemish