2 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Want Your Life to Be Easier, Better, and Happier
“Your problem is not your problem.”
Do you want to create more success in your life?
Do you want to feel safe and secure with a partner you love?
Do you want to stop struggling in the day-to-day grind?
What would that all look like for you?
What do you want?
When I ask my clients that question, many of them respond with a litany list of complaints and negative situations going on in their lives.
I pause them and repeat the question, “Sorry, I didn’t ask what you don’t want, I asked you what you do want in life.”
What do you want?
I’ll ask you the same question.
What do you want?
Make a list.
Make a long list.
List everything and anything that you want.
Did you make a list? If not, stop here. Seriously, make a list of at least a dozen things, achievements, goals, relationships, or what have you that you want.
Now pick one, pick your favorite one.
Here’s one of the two questions, “Why is that important to you?”
What’s your answer?
Let me ask you again based on your response, “Why is that important to you?”
What’s your answer?
Now again, “Why is that important to you?”
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
This is called the 5 Whys of Root Cause Analysis. It is often used in business for problem-solving and management.
But I find it also works extremely well for helping my clients to live principle-based lives.
You see, a lot of people say they want to be wealthy, but if you dig down deep enough, it’s not the money they want, it’s the lifestyle they believe the money will provide.
Research has shown that after a certain point, having more money doesn’t equate to more happiness. And it’s a lot lower than you’d expect.
In a 2010 study in the US, researchers Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that your happiness increased as you made more money up until $75,000. After that, happiness levels tapered off even as the participants had more money.
This is why the 5 Whys is so important. Too often, we chase goals and dreams without really diving into why they are important and what could give us the same results without wasting time, money, and effort chasing BHAGs.
So that’s the first question, knowing why something you want is important for you and your life.
What If It Is Important?
The second big challenge my clients face in life is overwhelm.
Too many plates spinning at once, getting ready to crash to the floor.
Or worse yet, not knowing what to do and lost in the daily confusion of what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s a waste of time and energy.
Now the 5 Whys will reduce some of the overwhelm by removing the low-hanging fruit of time and energy wasters, but for the goals and dreams that are important, there can still be overwhelm and lack of clarity.
So in comes the next question, the 5 Hows.
From the list you already made, you did make one didn’t you?
Pick one of the goals on the list.
Write down everything you can on what it would look, feel, and be like when you achieve this goal? Write down as many metrics as you can so that you know when you achieve them, there will be no doubt that you succeeded.
Now for each one of those metrics, cut them in half.
And do it again.
Cut them down so small that there is no way you couldn’t take that one step. The how of it is too easy.
How to Earn a Black Belt from a Master
In 1987, soon after moving to LA from Honolulu, I walked through the doors of 3201 Santa Monica Bl. in Santa Monica CA. I had a book in my hand, that I bought a couple of years earlier, Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams.
My home away from home
In the book, Joe describes the Hapkido master Bong Soo Han as a phenomenal teacher and philosopher, who I meet for the first time that summer in ‘87.
He gets up from behind his desk, with his intense eyes, and greets me warmly but stoically, if that makes sense, asking me why do I want to train in Hapkido. I reply, “I feel grounded when I train.”
Apparently, that was good enough for him and I enroll in his school. I didn’t have any starry-eyed dreams of being a master or even a black belt, all I knew was that I felt better emotionally and mentally when I trained.
Hapkido is a very interesting martial art, not as well-known as tae kwon do, karate, or now, BJJ, I would often describe it as the kicks of TKD and the joint locks and throws of judo. It’s an eclectic style that draws from many other schools.
As such, the training can be overwhelming. But GM Han and his instructors knew that by breaking it down into easily manageable steps that progressively increase in difficulty and intensity, they would have a system of personal development and leadership.
And that’s what I did, without even trying, to be honest, I couldn’t picture myself as a black belt, I was just someone who liked to punch and kick and spar. But I kept training, I kept improving, and I kept getting higher in rank, until one day, in ’98 I’m testing for my 1st dan.
That’s the power of the 5 Hows. Breaking down your goals so that by just do the steps, you attain a BHAG, sometimes surprising even yourself.
So if it’s so simple, why do clients need coaches?
The two questions of the 5 Whys and the 5 Hows are great tools for streamlining and simplifying your life and goals.
But often that is not enough.
We all hit walls, stumble, and fall.
We all have fears, it doesn’t matter if your a noob or the most experienced badass guy in the room, as human beings when we face uncertainty and get out of our comfort zones, we all need support and help.
There is a book by executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith that I review regularly, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
You see, we all have strengths but sometimes those strengths become our biggest weaknesses.
For example, being a leader requires the ability to take charge, tell people what to do, and sometimes make snap decisions. But those same qualities sometimes don’t work in the home where you have a family and not followers.
And the reverse can be true, some of the most loving helpful people I know struggle with boundaries and saying no, so they can often become doormats, letting other people walk all over them.
Coaching not only helps you to streamline and simplify your life but also to help be a mirror, allowing you to see things you may have missed. And also to support and encourage you when you’re feeling doubt and uncertainty.
Can you succeed without coaching? Sure of course!
I’m coming from the perspective that I’ve had many coaches throughout my personal and professional career, from my time on the mat heeding the wisdom of my master and his instructors, to on the job site seeking out some of the best craftsman, supervisors, and leaders in the industry, to my daily life, hiring the best teachers, executive, and personal-leadership coaches I could find to help me to take my life further.
It’s not for everyone. Some people are happy with where they are, but if you’re not, first use the 2 questions to see what kind of life you want to create, then find people who can help you to create that life.