Ask These 6 Questions for More Business Joy and Growth This Year

Every year-end I set aside time to just think…about the past year and the year to come, both in terms of my business and my personal life.

And over the years I’ve developed a pretty powerful questions-based methodology that I share with my clients. I’d like to share six of my business-related questions, which could deliver a breakthrough for you and your business in the year to come.

How can six questions do that?

First, we’re all moving so fast, working on so many things, that we forget to pause and just look around – and find breakthrough business insights and solutions hiding in plain sight!

Second, we coaches are all familiar with the concept of intentionality – yet we forget its potential power in our own businesses: Powerful questions beget intention, which helps us stay focused on what is essential, and in turn begets directed action on those essentials (and helping steer us clear of NON-essential stuff that’s self-defeating!).

This could be a deep-dive over the course of a few days, as I do, or you could easily draft meaningful answers to these Qs in about an hour.

Either way, feel free to grab my Annual Business Breakthrough Questions Worksheet (see link at bottom of post) to make this exercise more easy and actionable.

Q1: How Did I Do vs My Goals the Past Year?

Hopefully, you set some quantifiable goals. Or at least had some kind of expectation for the year. How’d you do?

If you can’t gauge your progress against either a goal or general expectation, what’s one thing you did or created that you’re super proud of?

Lifestyle guru Tim Ferriss finds such backward-looking questions to be “more informed, valuable and actionable than half-blindly looking forward with broad resolutions.” I agree, and that’s why this question is first, and also why the forward-looking questions further below are in no way geared toward setting resolutions (which have a 94% failure rate!).

Q2: What Worked In the Past Year?

Which of your habits, initiatives, and activities really paid off? For instance, I know my three daily rituals (morning plan ritual, single-tasking work session ritual, and energy recovery rituals) worked to keep me focused and productive, as did what I call my core systems (for delegating, prioritizing, and content creation).

If something’s been working, double down on it going forward!

Q3: What Didn’t Work?

Which of your habits, initiatives, activities, or emotions didn’t pay off –or maybe cost you big time? Going a little deeper…

What mistakes did you make and what did you learn from them?

What project or goal that didn’t get done or pan out do you wish you had scratched off your to-do list?

What one emotion took an inordinate amount of time, energy, and spirit from you? Resentment? Fear? Anxiety? Single out one and consider how you might initiate what Marie Forleo calls an “emotional enema” going forward!

Q4: What Was Joyful vs Too Effortful?

I LOVE this question. It’s a great follow-up to the two preceding Qs.  What business activities gave you the most joy? Which made you miserable when doing them? Keep in mind that some of the things that feel most effortful can be things that have real impact on your bottom line -- and that could signal a need to delegate or re-think how you're going about it!

Now to some forward-looking questions…

Q5: What Is My Business Stretch Goal for the Year?

We must take time to brainstorm what’s possible in our business – and put a stake in the ground to move toward.

I define a Stretch Goal as, “One year from now, the tangible result or state I’ll have achieved, etc., that is a stretch – meaning, it’s possible, but not easily fully met.”

If it’s not a “stretch” then you’re just shooting for the status quo, right? But it’s also gotta be do-able, or you’ll lose interest fast.

You could set a Stretch Goal of adding a major new business component, or set a bold revenue goal – or even a lifestyle goal related to your business. (E.g., my Stretch Goal the past year was “Half the Work/Twice the Impact.” And no, I didn’t achieve either, but I got great results that I would not have had I not set those goals!)

You can of course have more than one Stretch Goal – whether a couple of business goals, or one business and one personal. But ideally, you’re nailing down just one.

And the last business breakthrough question…

Q6: What Are the Key Actions Toward My Goal(s)?

As coaches, we know we can’t just have a desired goal and a “rah-rah” declaration: We must construct a plan based on action steps.

And I do this in two ways:

  • First, I identity the “Activity Buckets” that will support my goal. Examples might be Things to Delegate, Self-Care, a “No” Bucket (things you’ll start saying “No!” to), a bucket dedicated to the new business component, etc. – each being a list of specific actions that we need to be reviewing daily and banging away at.
  • Second, I make what Gretchen Rubin calls “Personal Policies”: new rules (that I’m willing to abide by), with specific mechanics in place.

Again, it's one thing to have a desire and a declaration. It's another thing to actually review a list of your ‘directed actions’ every morning and to make new desired behaviors actual policy.

What are your thoughts on this topic? I'd love to know. Shoot me an email at alan@alanpbrown or DM me on Instagram @alanpbrown.

I invite you to download the Annual Business Breakthrough Worksheet HERE, and block off some quality quiet time to dive into this process. You will not regret it – and you might just help yourself get to a new level in your business.

Remember – Whatever’s in your way is yours to CRUSH!



Get my Annual Business Breakthrough Questions Worksheet with 6 Simple Questions for More Business Joy and Growth!
We coaches know the power of intentionality - yet we can forget to fully apply it in our own businesses. This worksheet will help you stay focused on what is essential, and help steer you clear of NON-essential stuff that's not serving you.
Use it for a deep dive over the course of a few days, as I do, or just draft meaningful answers to these Qs in about an hour or less. Download your copy HERE.


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That's why I created my 7 Hacks for Faster and Easier Writing cheat sheet, sharing some of my best writing tricks from 30 years of making a living creating content (despite a few learning disabilities – so if they work for me, they’ll work even better for YOU).

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