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Ask Yourself These 6 Questions If You Really Want To Change Your Behavior

Why is it so hard to become who we want to be? Why do we struggle to make big personal changes? We’ve got some questions that can help.
by Carrie M. King | Sep 28 2017

If you’ve ever made a new year’s resolution or tried to break — or make — a habit, you can attest to the fact that changing behavior is hard. Our habits and patterns can feel ingrained like inextricable parts of our character. Despite our best intentions on a rational level, it often feels like old behaviors simply override our attempts to create new ones.

Ask yourself these questions to achieve your goals

Why, when we have decided to do one thing, do we often do the polar opposite? Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter examines why we find it difficult to change and why we sometimes behave in ways contrary to our desires and goals. This fascinating read sheds some much-needed light on the murky muddle of goal-achievement and personal behavior.

The good news is, it is possible to make real-life changes. According to Goldsmith and Reiter, you just need to learn to be aware of your triggers and to find ways to manage your reactions to them. A trigger is a stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. Some triggers are obvious, but there are many that are difficult to pinpoint. They can be both positive and negative, conscious and unconscious, direct or indirect. If you feel like your negative triggers are stopping you from making changes in your life then there are some ways you can practice engaging with your behavior, identifying your triggers, and making sure you react to them in a way that is healthy and transformative for you.

Asking yourself engaging questions that bring you back to the moment can be major catalysts for change. If you want to become better at managing your behavior — be patient with yourself as this is a learned process — then ask yourself these questions every day:

1. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
2. Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals?
3. Did I do my best to find meaning?
4. Did I do my best to be happy?
5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

By asking yourself these questions, you force yourself to consider your behavior and to change your actions according to whatever you want to achieve. This helps you to notice your triggers and crucially, control how you respond to them.

In addition, by asking yourself active rather than passive questions, you place the onus of responsibility on yourself which gives you the agency you need to make your best decision. It stops you ascribing blame to external influences — how many times have we all blamed a boss for our bad mood? — and helps you to see yourself as the key factor in how you feel and what you do.

If you want to take a deeper look at human behavior and why you act the way you do, make sure to check out Triggers on Blinkist.

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