Change for the Better - 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Daily

Publish Date: February 2, 2017

Marshall Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Marshall Goldsmith, Ph.D.
Executive Educator and Coach

We all make grandiose plans for what we will do as we journey through life. We set goals for ourselves to be better in our daily job, in our family life, and in our physical health. Yet, certain triggers derail us from our goals—an email, a person, a word, or even our own ego can distract us from our path toward change.

How do we overcome these triggers?

First, we must not overestimate our ability to resist the urge to give up. The drive to fall into old habits or not stick with new ones is very powerful.

Second, we can implement a structure for change that is practiced daily. Consider these six questions to ask yourself every day. Sticking to the daily practice of asking these questions is helping me and tens of thousands of individuals I’ve coached, including a number of the world’s top executives:

  1. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  2. Did I do my best to make progress toward achieving these goals?
  3. Did I do my best to find meaning?
  4. Did I do my best to be happy?
  5. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  6. Did I do my best to be fully engaged?

Score yourself in your daily progress with a simple seven-day spreadsheet that allows you to grade yourself daily and assess your progress on a weekly basis. To make progress you must remember to have courage, humility, and discipline. And remember to check your ego at the door because ego is one common barrier I see that blocks individuals from sticking to change for the better.

It’s important to remember that change isn’t easy. In fact, many people who try to stick to asking themselves these daily questions fail soon after they start.

However, our data from more than 3,000 individuals asking these questions and telling us how they have changed shows this daily work for the better makes a difference, with almost half saying they improved in all six questions, 70% noting improvement in four or more items, and 94% noting a change for the better with at least one question.

Just as a surgeon needs a perioperative nurse to ask checklist questions that make the difference in saving a patient’s life, we all need a trusted friend or colleague to support our daily work to achieve change. This is something I do to stay on track and it makes all the difference.

Want to jumpstart a better you? Send an email to to join my study and I will call you for 10 days to ask these questions and then ask if you see a change.

For those working toward your goals to advance in your profession by attending AORN’s Global Surgical Conference and Expo this April, make sure to attend my general session on April 4 where I will talk more about the keys to staying on track with change for the better.