While everyone has a different definition of professional success, the one thing all successful people share in common is a drive to be better than the day before. Forward momentum is key, and you can keep yourself in check by asking the right questions.
This post originally appeared on Fast Company.
Whether you're looking for a new job, looking to make your company a success, or just reaching for the next rung on the career ladder, it's important to do some self-reflection on a regular basis. Of course, in the everyday hustle and bustle, we can often skip the navel-gazing, but these questions are necessary to ensure we're keeping our goals in sight and moving in the right direction.
One entrepreneur, leader and inventor regularly asked himself the tough questions — Benjamin Franklin. According to author Mason Currey and his book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Franklin started and ended his day by asking two self-improvement questions. In the morning he asked himself, "What good shall I do this day?" In the evening, he wrapped up by asking, "What good have I done today?"
Bookending his day with these simple questions helped Franklin focus on his goals and point his efforts in the right direction. Similarly, the most successful people never stop questioning and never stop seeking answers.
Here are five questions many successful people have asked themselves in order to reach their goals.
Am I in the Right Niche?
Sometimes the career trajectory we chose years ago just doesn't fit as well today. Often times we lose the passion we once felt for our business, job, or career path in general. It's possible you haven't even considered in quite some time whether you're in the correct niche or following the right path.
Knowing your niche can help you set successful goals in your professional life. It can help you determine what niche job boards might hold your next big opportunity, what networking events you should attend, and even whom you should retweet on Twitter. Diving deep into your niche means you have sincere passion for your industry, and this passion will shine through everything you do.
Am I Failing Better?
"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better," said writer Samuel Beckett. When it comes to accomplishing your goals and getting where you need to be in your career, this is good advice to follow.
You cannot be so afraid to make mistakes that you never truly take risks in your career. However, you should also be learning from the mistakes you do make and the times you've failed. Look critically at your mistakes and see if you're failing better, or just failing.
Write down three of your biggest career mistakes, and then come up with a plan to address these errors and turn your negatives into positives. Take a class, do some reading, or ask advice from a mentor. Mistakes are teachable moments in disguise; so don't let these learning opportunities pass you by.
Am I Doing Something That Scares Me Every Day?
Without risk, there's no reward. Only by facing your fears can you overcome them. In your professional life, you should be constantly challenging yourself and pushing beyond the limits of what you thought was possible.
Otherwise, you're likely to become complacent in your job and disengaged with your career. If you've fallen into the 70 per cent of the American workforce disengaged on the job, it's time to tune back into your professional life, and this means facing your fears. Asking for a professional challenge is rarely a mistake, and it can give you a new goal to strive for.
Do I Have a Game Plan To Reach My Goals?
You wouldn't try to climb Mount Everest without a map, right? So why do so many of us rush into battle with our career without devising a strategy to ensure victory? Before starting a job search, a business, or even a negotiation for a new deal, you need to sit with yourself and ask the tough questions.
What do you really want? Why do you deserve it? And, most importantly, what steps do you need to take to achieve your goal? Your goals might initially seem too big to conquer, so your game plan should be all about breaking it down into manageable pieces.
Starting your own business might seem like a big goal, and you might feel overwhelmed before you even start. Instead, break it into more manageable pieces focusing on developing a vision for your company, putting together a business plan, and finding investors and sources of funding.
Now instead of one hugely insurmountable goal, you have plenty of smaller goals you know you can achieve. No one ever climbed Everest in a single bound, so carefully plan out the steps you'll need to get to the top of your professional mountain.
Do I Still Believe In Myself?
Before you can achieve your goals, you need to believe in your own abilities. You'll never reach the finish line if you don't believe you can run the distance. If you've lost the belief in your own talents and abilities, it might be time to take a look in the mirror.
Why don't you like what you see? Have your skills gotten rusty? Have you become complacent in your job? Or are you just not having fun in your industry anymore? You have to be your own cheerleader if you want to get ahead in your career, which means you need to believe in your ability to get things done.
To reach our goals and succeed, sometimes we have to take a hard look at ourselves. The most successful people aren't happy with the status quo and understand asking tough questions is a life-long process helping them to achieve more.
The 5 Questions Successful People Routinely Ask Themselves [Fast Company]
Karyn Mullins is the EVP and General Manager of MedReps.com, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Karyn and MedReps.com on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.