The art of self-reflection: 9 questions to ask yourself for personal growth

A lot of what we do – from how we dress to how we speak to what we study and the career paths we choose – we do to make other people happy. We make our choices based on what is expected from us by our parents, our mentors, and society as a whole.

But, how often do we actually stop and ask ourselves, “What do I want to do?” or “What is my purpose in life?”

That’s where the art of self-reflection comes in – to help us get in touch with our core selves and ask ourselves what we want out of life.

This is super important because as much as you may want to make your parents proud, your life belongs to you. You don’t want to wake up one day in old age and ask yourself what you’ve been doing all these years, right?

So, if up until now you’ve been living life according to someone else’s idea, it’s time for some self-reflection!

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself that will help you gain insight into what you’re thinking and feeling so that you can work towards personal growth and development and live your best life.

1) Am I living the life I want?

You’d be surprised by how many people go through life without ever asking themselves this question. They either grow up being told how they should live and what they should do with their lives; they do what everyone else is doing; or they just kind of “float along”.

But, life is this wonderful gift that we’ve been given and I think that we should make the best of it. Don’t you agree?

So, starting today, ask yourself, “Am I living the life I want?

Now, the answer may not appear to you immediately, it may take some time for you to process what you’re really asking yourself. But then you’ll slowly start to get some answers.

Maybe you’ll realize that there are things you’re happy with and others that you want to change.

You might also realize that something is missing from your life.

For example, maybe you have a white-collar job that pays well. You’ve got a roof over your head and don’t have to worry about the bills. But, you’re actually a really talented artist and in your free time, you paint the most amazing pictures.

You’ve always wondered what it would be like to be a painter full time and make your living from your paintings, but everyone you know – starting with your parents when you were younger – thinks it’s a crazy idea!

Is it enough to paint on the side, or is the life you want to be living the life of an artist?

If you’re looking for growth, you have to stop listening to other people and give it a try. You only live once, so you should make it count.

2) What are my short-term and long-term goals?

When it comes to personal growth, it’s important to be able to set goals.

But, what’s the big deal?

Well, without goals you’re just floating through life. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s going to be difficult to get a sense of growth if you’re not working toward anything. I mean, how are you going to measure progress?

Setting your goals will provide you with direction and give you something to work towards.

An example of a short-term goal could be joining a gym to get into shape in the next 3 months.

An example of a long-term goal would be becoming a homeowner in the next 5-10 years.

The good news is that by identifying your goals you’ll have an easier time staying on track and making progress. You’ll also have an easier time making decisions because you’ll know what your priorities are. And the best part? You’ll finally have a sense of purpose!

3) What makes me happy?

As I’ve already mentioned above, we spend a lot of time trying to make other people happy, but how often do we stop to ask ourselves, “What makes me happy?”

Whether it’s being surrounded by friends and family, traveling, your career, or even going for long walks with your dogs, figuring out what makes you happy will help you organize your life so that you spend more time doing what makes you happy.

Sounds good, right?

What’s more, it may help you pinpoint what you need to change in your life to be happier – from changing jobs to making more time for your hobbies.

In short, by focusing on the things that bring you joy, you can start to lead a more satisfying, fulfilling, and meaningful life.

4) Am I living up to my potential?

Now, be honest – you should never lie to yourself.

If the honest answer is “no”, that’s okay! It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure and that all is lost!

The beauty of self-reflection is that it sheds light on our wants and desires and areas where we could improve.

So, if you don’t think you’re living up to your full potential, you need to figure out why. Ask yourself:

  • How can I make better use of my talents and my knowledge?
  • Are there obstacles that are preventing me from living up to my full potential?
  • Do I need to develop new skills to take the next step in my journey?
  • Am I holding back because I’m actually scared of failure?

Once you understand why you’re not living up to your potential, you can start to address the issue.

Whether it’s by learning new skills or getting help working on your self-confidence, the solution is out there!

5) How do I respond to challenges and setbacks?

This will also require taking a long hard look at yourself and being completely honest.

The answer may not be pretty, which is why it may be something you’ve been refusing to think about.

Here are some examples:

  • Giving up: Some people give up when they encounter a setback. This is a self-defeating behavior and unless it’s corrected, it will keep you from learning from the experience and prevent growth.
  • Seeing only the negative: Some people tend to dwell on the negative. They fail to see that there is potential for a positive outcome and that either stops them from trying or if they do try, they do it without any hope of succeeding.
  • Feeling like a failure: Another way some people react to setbacks is to feel like they’re a failure because they have an “All-or-nothing” mentality. They simply can’t see any progress and ignore all the success they have achieved because they’re blinded by this small setback.
  • Blaming others: Some people can’t accept that they’re not perfect and that they could improve in some areas. And when they don’t succeed? When they face a challenge? It’s always someone else’s fault! I told you it isn’t pretty.

Now that you’ve recognized how you respond to challenges and setbacks, you can finally learn to change that response.

Start by remembering that setbacks and challenges are a normal part of life that everyone faces at some point. The key is not to give up but to find a way to learn from the experience so that you can go on to achieve your goals.

6) What motivates me?

I think that this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself.

The reason being?

Motivation is one of the main ingredients of success!

Think about it, why would you work hard toward something you don’t care about? What’s the point?

But if you’re motivated to reach a goal or make something happen, you’ll have an easier time staying focused and making progress.

And do you know what else?

When you have motivation, you’re more likely to have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Also, people who are motivated have an easier time overcoming obstacles and setbacks!

7) What can I do to get closer to my goals?

By asking yourself all the questions I’ve outlined above, you’ll get a better sense of what your goals in life are (yours, not somebody else’s).

But that’s only half the job done.

You see, once you’ve identified your goals and the direction in which you want your life to go, you need to ask yourself what you can do to get there.

Here are some examples:

  • If your goal is to find the love of your life and start a family, then you need to put yourself out there. You’ll never meet anyone hiding away in your corner. You need to mingle and meet people. You need to ask your friends to set you up with a suitable partner, sign up for a dating app, join a club, and give yourself a chance to meet someone.
  • Or if your goal is to travel the world, you need to come up with a plan. Make a list of all the places you want to visit, how much transportation, accommodation, etc. will cost, and then you need to start saving up.

Most things are possible, you just need to make a plan and stick to it.

8) What are my biggest fears, and how are they holding me back?

Look, when it comes to personal growth, it’s important to identify any obstacles that might be holding you back, and that includes your fears.

For example, if your dream is to travel to the far corners of the world, but you’re afraid of getting on a plane, you’re gonna have quite a hard time pulling that off.

Now, that’s not to say that you have to fly to travel, but without getting on a plane, you’re gonna need a hell of a lot more money and time. And unless you’re a wealthy billionaire with nothing but time on your hands, it’s safe to say that your fear is holding you back from living the life you wanna live.

But fears can be overcome, you just need to be willing to do the work. And if you need help, you should definitely reach out to a therapist. They’ll be able to help you confront your fear and overcome it so that it doesn’t get in the way of your dreams.

9) What am I grateful for?

I’d like to end by mentioning the importance of being grateful.

While a big part of self-reflection is to ask yourself where you want to be and how you can grow as a person, it’s also important to acknowledge where you currently are as opposed to where you were 1 year ago, 5 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

Because, although it may not always seem like it, we’re constantly evolving. And even the smallest of accomplishments shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Personally, I like to spend a few minutes each day thinking about all the good things in my life – my family, my friends, my job, the roof over my head, as well as how far I’ve come on my life journey.

Why not give it a try?

You can spend a few minutes before bed going over what you’re grateful for in your life, you can even keep a gratitude journal.

Jelena Dincic

Jelena has a background in photography and film-making and has spent the last few years as a content editor and copywriter. Jelena is a citizen of the world who is passionate about travel and learning about new cultures. She’s a foodie who loves to cook. And, as an art lover, she is always experimenting with new art mediums. When she’s not at her computer, she’s usually out and about in some forest with her dogs.

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