Top 15 Questions to Plan For Success

To be a success in your career, you have to spend time not only IN your career (painting, teaching, coaching, designing, nursing, etc), but also ON your career (planning, marketing, networking, visioning, etc). This holds true for all parts of life. If you want to be successful in business, corporate life, relationships, parenting, teaching, learning, or whatever else is important to you, the necessity is the same. Step out of the system to mold it.

A vase is not created by stepping into the clay. It starts as a vision – something formed before you lay hands on the clay. Then, you work from the outside, molding it a little at a time until it begins to take shape.

Use this example: being in a relationship is great. If you only feel around the interior of the relationship, you create stagnation – until you step outside the relationship to work on the boundaries. The boundaries are rarely formed from inside. This is what couples counseling does, and this is why I think all couples should engage in this kind of relationship work regularly.

There are a plethora of ways to work ON a system. My favorite way to do work ON something is to set aside time every week to plan. I do this with my “Planning Success” tool.

The Planning Success Tool:

First, I review the week that just passed. I recognize my accomplishments, reward my strengths, and make note of the unfinished business.

Then, I write in my journal about the challenges I faced and will face the next week. I also write the solution, as if I were my own coach/therapist with brilliant insight.

Next, I remind myself of my word of the year (drive), my motto (Be a blessing. Celebrate everything.), my daily reminders (to drink more water, to park far away from the grocery store, and to carve out 5 minutes of quiet time every day), my vision, priorities and dreams.

My favorite part is daydreaming about what I want next week to look like. I write down all the events, emotions and thoughts I want to have. This sets me up to look for them unconsciously during the week. And what a surprise it is when Thursday rolls around and I find myself being Joy-Full for no good reason!

Lastly, I list my to-do's. And the to-don'ts. These, I put in my day planner. A to-do is: laundry, call my best friend, send sympathy card to my colleague, write a new blog, check the oil in the car, you get the idea. A to-don't list includes: work myself too hard, put off practicing for the upcoming performance, stress out, etc.

Bonus tip: I only have a to-do list, because the brain works in a way that it would much rather remember things to DO than things to DON'T. So, I always word my DON'TS into DO'S.

When I have extra time, I like to sit and think more intensely about my vision and dreams. To dig deeper into problem solving the challenges I face. To reward myself for my accomplishments.

If you choose, you can also turn this time into a family meeting night. Turn off the electronics and have real conversation with everyone in your household.

Oh, and the very last step that most people forget is CELEBRATE! This takes serious time and commitment to complete every week. You can reward yourself for working ON your life instead of meddling in it all the time. A celebration can be as simple as a pat on the back, or a cup of your favorite tea. Whatever you do, celebrate yourself. You are a blessing to our great big universe!

If you are from the left-brained concrete planet (like me), here are the 15 specific questions, in order. I keep the “Oh, Yeah!” questions filled in on sticky notes on MyYahoo desktop. I fill in the “Next Week Here I Come!” questions uniquely every week in a document on my laptop. I have a special folder where I keep all the documents, so I have a running log of my accomplishments and challenges.

Oh, Yeah!
These answers remain mostly the same, with some tweaking as needed, of course. These things are your reminders for the week.
1. What are my strengths?
2. What is my motto?
3. What 3 small tasks do I need to be reminded of?
4. What are my top 3 priorities?
5. What is my vision?
6. What are my 2010, 2013, 2020, and 2030 dreams? This includes your word of the year.

Next Week, Here I Come!
1. What significant things happened last week? Surprises? Let Downs?
2. What did I accomplish last week? Be sure to include the tiniest accomplishments too!
3. What strengths did I utilize this week?
4. What challenge did I face last week? What challenge do I expect next week?
5. If you were a coach, full of brilliant insight, what would be the solution/s to the challenge?
6. What daily reminders do I need?
7. What do I want next week to look like? How do I want to feel? What do I want to think? What do I want to do? Who do I want to be?
8. What to-don'ts do I have for next week? If possible, word them into DO'S.
9. What to-do's do I have for next week?

Remember to Celebrate!

Author's Bio: 

Sybil R Smith is a life coach and expressive arts therapist. She has a wide range of expertise, including music therapy, hospice, child psychotherapy, EMDR, and a M.A. degree in marriage and family therapy. She has helped clients deal with a range of issues including anxiety and panic disorders, life transitions, depression, and grief. Her mission is to show people how to live empowered lives so they can move past therapy and into forward motion. Sybil R Smith uses her training as a musician and performer to present creative ways to help move people through anxiety, depression, and grief to create smooth and joy-filled transitions. You can sign up for her thought-provoking EZine and meet her at