How To Ask Better Questions To Expand Your Career Options + Heal Career Trauma

Ask Better Questions

What is your guiding question? We all have one even if you don’t consider yourself as someone who asks very many questions. It’s important to explore this idea. Rarely, are we encouraged to dramatically elevate our ability to ask better questions (as this pertains to our lives). I imagine for a consultant the ability to ask astonishingly vivid questions is core to his success. Yet, what about for those of us who are not probing organizations seeking to reveal more projects? Essentially, what if your greatest project is your life?

Wouldn’t it make sense to sharpen your inquisitive skills to help yourself? It’s been a blessing to have career-coached brilliant humans who can ask thoughtful questions at work. I have come to realize, however, that when it comes to asking themselves powerful questions even professional question-askers won’t use their skills strategically on themselves. Here is where having a guiding question matters most.

Let’s breakdown a typical morning question we may secretly ask ourselves.

Question 1. What should I eat for breakfast? Luckily, I decided months ago to commit to one breakfast choice so for me this question is irrelevant. I opted out of having to make this decision every single morning to make room for other questions. Yet, for you perhaps it’s one you ask yourself every morning.

Now let’s add some finesse to this question. Let’s figure out how to use your ability to ask questions to help you sort out matters of your health. What if instead of asking yourself this open for major discussion question you reframed this question to this:

Question 2. How can I add value to my life by way of what I eat this morning? You may think I am the ultimate nerd, but this is so important that I’ll risk your judgment. I ask myself this question sans the “by way of what I eat this morning?” part. I ask myself this guiding lifestyle choice question every time I open my fridge for a snack.

Come along with me on a journey. Let’s see how by having (or changing) your guiding questions you too can completely change your life (and maybe your girth).

If you stop at question 1, you are opening yourself up to a myriad of breakfast options from a breakfast of average-weight champions to a breakfast of lean champions. The fridge is your oyster and so is that Mcdonald’s drive-thru that is en route to work (pre-WFH). You aren’t putting any guardrails around your choices. It’s the wild west of options. I’m not here to tell you what you should be eating remember that. I am here to show you that if you change the quality of your guiding questions you can change the quality of your life! Tony Robbins asserts this too!

Alternatively, if you opt for question 2, then you are filtering your options. We may differ in our definition of “value.” However, I surmise that you’d serve yourself something that won’t give you a tummy ache or make you feel guilty. No judgment here. I can’t say that enough. Food was just the easiest example for me to use. I also want to add by saying that once going for a store-bought corn muffin was what I used to eat as my second breakfast back when I was twelve so I get the allure of quick and greasy options.

In these two examples of “guiding questions” can you see that several elements of your life can change? Let’s run through some right here using this example: what if you changed the quality of your questions to help you improve your life.

You will think differently. Emotionally, you will see yourself differently if you start to use nourishing language targeted to yourself. This is beyond piecing together nouns. You will begin to treat yourself differently. Think about it. If you started asking yourself: what can I eat that will add value to my life this will spark some ideas on how your life can become incredibly valuable. You can be valuable to yourself. You can be of value to others. You can feel incredibly valuable and worth caring for. All of this is possible by knowing how to ask yourself “better” questions. We’d never ask hollow and generic ones to increase market share or exceed expectations for a client. Big consulting firms won’t even risk bad question asking. They have loads and frameworks too. Where’s your pre-baked list of quality life questions?

Remember, your life is your most important assignment? This is something to ponder. Maybe you too can use some better questions easily available to you. It just may change your emotional well-being?

You will behave differently. Let’s say you opted to eat a nutritious breakfast today. You had other options but you went for it today. Is it possible that this one choice will inform other ones? May you have a pep in your step? Won’t you feel “disciplined” because you opted for something that will add value to your life? Tell me you won’t that day feel a little lighter? Maybe you’ll wear a belt. Who knows if you’ll later on in the day opt to keep up your streak of value-add food choices? You may make them and perhaps do so because your guiding question had some predefined guardrails. “Must add value.” That was no longer a playable filter. It was a firm choice baked into your finessed guiding food-choice question.

You will model differently. Meanwhile, when it comes to a ripple effect. If you cook dinner like me then perhaps when you think about what you cook for your family that very night that too will be affected. Just a thought. It is human nature to do more for others than for ourselves. Along that vein, I imagine if you have guardrails around your dinner options that you’d want to do the same for your friends and/or family? P.S.: I’m not here to discuss picky kid eaters. Rather, I want to bring up a point that I’ve witnessed. When you start to ask yourself better questions as they pertain to your life choices you will ultimately elevate your life to meet your expectations. As your family sees you making “wild” and “granola” food choices, they will start to wonder why and perhaps this can spark a new question: how can we add value to our lives as a family or in a partnership or as friends or a community through our food choices (or beyond).

So let me ask you this question: can you see how by refining your guiding questions you can enhance your emotional well-being, feel inspired to take life-giving actions, and spark more cohesive and enhancing relationships?

I’ve seen it. My clients have gotten a taste of it when they’ve reached out to me in between jobs en route to find their ideal marketing roles. These days I want to take the same concepts to do more in your life. You are your greatest life assignment. There is no greater assignment. I’m a mom to three boys and I am STILL my greatest life assignment as their leader. You are yours too.

Join me on a complimentary breakthrough session when you are ready to change the questions you are asking yourself about what is possible in your career + life. Reach out when you are ready to expand your career options and heal any career traumas that may have wrongfully led you to believe that you are limited in your options and capped in your capabilities.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

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