The quality of the question you ask determines the quality of the answer you get.  Ask a bad question, get a bad answer.

It is December 2018 and it is the time of year to be reflecting on what has just happened in the year gone past, and starting to think about the year going forward.

Alan Donegan typing on his laptop

Alan in his hotel in Tallinn, Estonia answer his annual reflection questions
I wanted to share with you the questions I ask once a month and then once a year to reflect on my life and build excitement for the future. Over the last 6 or 7 years I have been researching questions and collecting the best.  Sitting down to discuss and answer a good questions can inspire ideas, creativity and change in your life.  I am going to share with you some of the best I have found in this article!

Questions inspire conversation and thought

Just recently my business partner, Simon, and I felt a little disconnected.  With a heavy schedule of running Rebel Business School around the world we hadn’t spent much time together (which is ironic as we started the business to work together and the more successful we have become the less this has happened!) and we wanted to come together.  We did a HUGELY powerful exercise where Simon wrote 10 questions for me and I wrote 10 for him and then we both answered both sets and discussed the answers together.

We were in Paris at the time working on a deal with HEC Paris University to take our methodology and use it across France and North Africa to inspire people to start businesses.  It was an inspiring time and in a French Café in Paris we sat and discussed answers to some tough questions and really connected. We openly shared answers about painful problems, fears and hopes for the future  and connected deeply once more.

The questions cut through to the heart of the issue and they really helped us to reconnect.

One of the ones that got me thinking the most from Simon was:

“If it all burnt down, if everything was destroyed with the business, how would you start again?”

What a question!  This got me thinking and got some interesting answers for us to discuss!

Asking and answering questions is something I do in all areas of my life.  My wife and I have a monthly reflection where we answer a set of three questions and then share the answers. At work we do it annually and the whole team do the yearly reflection, and then I use this process wherever I can.  I find it incredibly powerful and the answers that come are amazing and thought provoking!

I had to share it with you.

The quality of the questions you ask directly affects the quality of the answers you get.  So here are some of the best I have found.

Alan’s Monthly Reflection Questions

This is the process I use once a month to examine my life and come up with things to do to improve.  It has been so powerful for me.  I take the questions below and in a blank OneNote page I type out my answers!

​Process for reflection days:
1. Looking back.  What has worked well?  What are we proud of?

What have we enjoyed?

What isn’t working well?

What are we going to celebrate?

2. Looking forward.  What do we want to make happen?  Where are we going in the future?

What do I want to make happen?

If we continue like this, are we happy with where we are going?

  1. Money and finance
  2. Business and career
  3. Relationships
  4. Health and wellness
  5. Recreation and play
  6. Education
  7. Service and contribution

What are you looking forward to that is already planned in?  Remember we already have cool shit planned in.  Get excited, Mofo!  xxx

4. What actions do we want to take?  Who do we want to spend time with? Where do we want to go?

Every month I go through and answer these questions and it gives me actions to take, ideas to put into action, and things to change.  The question of, “If we keep going this way, are we happy with where we are going?” is so powerful!  This one is so important to get honest with.

​At many points this year I have written that I am not happy with the direction of my health and then worked to take action as quickly as possible to put it right and get back on track.  If you aren’t looking at your current trajectory and where you are going, how can you take action to make sure you are moving in the right direction and getting to where you want to go to!?!?

There are my monthly reflection questions.

I also do an annual process with the team at Rebel and for my life in general.  The picture above is of me doing the questions in Tallin in Estonia!  (I have noticed that every one of my blogs has a picture of me at the top so far and I am not sure if this is a brand or a bad thing yet!  Please comment below!)

Keys to making this work

There are a couple of key things to making this work that I wanted to share with you:

  • Be honest with yourself and others.  The key to making this work is being honest with yourself and the others around you.  If you aren’t willing to be honest about the good and bad that is happening in your life then you don’t have the power to change anything.  It relies on your really opening up!
  • Write and write and write.  Don’t write one word answers to the questions.  Dig in and explore and really examine your life.  Start writing and capture your thoughts and ideas.  I use OneNote to do this process and it helps me to tap away and capture everything!  Start writing and really capture!
  • Share your answers with your loved one or business partner.  This can be a challenging part and painful but it is so important to have open communication with the people you love and care for.  I use OneNote to do this so that my wife can read my answers and comment in a different colour and I can do the same for her questions.  This process of sharing my thoughts and ideas helps me to get perspective and other ideas.  I remember writing one month that I hadn’t had much fun and then my wife’s comment was, “What are you talking about, we have done……” and she listed loads of things that I had forgotten about.  Her commenting gave me a new perspective and helped me to see things differently.  
  • Do it in writing.  I have become a huge believer in the power of writing.  When you write, you capture your thoughts on paper and freeze your thinking process so you can examine it.  Don’t edit what is coming out, just write, freeze your thoughts on paper and then you can examine and discuss them afterwards.  The act of writing it down is so important!

Use questions to generate discussion, examine your thinking and to generate ideas to help you improve your life.  I will be writing some articles coming up on generating ideas and getting creative.  If you want to be notified when there are new posts then sign up to the mailing list.

​I will be adding in a form here once I have got it up and running!

How are you getting on?

I want this to be an interactive blog and I know that I can learn as much from you as you can from me with our different perspectives and ideas.  Please let me know how you get on with the questions and thoughts and I wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR and an amazing 2019!

Good luck!

​Alan

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