Questions for Trying Times

trying times
This is a guest post by friend, executive and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor. Follow him on Twitter.


Questions for Trying Times

We are in the midst of trying times for sure. All of us have had our routines interrupted, our way of life threatened, and many are required to stay at home and away from others for an extended period of time. Many will be spending time in totally different ways than ever. How will we use the time that the new routine may provide?

One thing we can do is to use some of the extra time to reflect on our lives and how we are living them. I believe that adversity can present an opportunity to grow, learn and make some changes. Quite often good things can come from bad times and adversity if we are mindful.



I am a proponent of asking questions to get information, learn, change and to discover some things about myself and others that I would not have known if I hadn’t asked a question. In my assignments for doing interim management work at various companies, I have used questions effectively, both of others and myself, to gain understanding, take action and make changes.

These trying times present a different opportunity to use questions as a way to reflect, understand and perhaps change. There are a lot of questions in this list. You may not think all of these questions are applicable or useful for you, but perhaps a few will provide you with some insight.



Some Questions for Trying Times


What things or activities are cluttering my life and consuming time that I will not miss and that really do not count? What would I like to eliminate?


What activities are my sources of comfort, calmness, enjoyment, meaning? What gives me perspective? What message is here for me?


What have I been taking for granted?


What one or two things would I like to do that I perhaps now have time to do? Skills to learn? Hobby to start?


What recurring thoughts do I have? What do they mean and what should I do about them?


What do I regret? What should I do about it?



Who do I really miss? Who do I not miss? Why?


What person would I like to be closer to? How can I start?


Who do I really trust? Who do I look to for encouragement, help, support?


What would really make me feel secure? Why?


What would I like to say to my spouse, partner or children that I have not said?


What needs does my spouse or partner have that I can fulfill during these times?


What habit would I like to start? Stop?


What behaviors and priorities would I like to change? When things return to normal, what will people notice about me that is different – at home, at work? What will I change about how I spend my time?


In the areas where I can lead (work, community, family), what would I like to change? How will I do it?


What do I want to teach my children (regardless of age) from this difficult time? What do I want them to remember? What behaviors do I want to model for them?


What one or two things will I do to improve my health and fitness?



When this is over, what will I do to make my life (and family) more secure? Mentally, spiritually, financially?


How can I help or encourage someone else – now? How can I “give back”?


Who do I need to forgive? What relationships do I need to repair? What action(s) to take?


What am I really basing my life on or around? Do I need to change?


What do I really have faith in? What causes do I believe in? Does it show? Am I OK with it? What will I do about it?


What would you like to do to improve your spiritual life? How will you start? If you are a spiritual person, what messages are you getting? How are you listening?


After all these questions, what turns out to be most important in my life and what changes would I like to make? What am I going to do about it?



Final Thoughts

These questions cover a lot of ground and explore many areas of life, priorities and behaviors. Some may not resonate with you, but look for those that stand out from the rest of the list for you personally and give them some thought and action planning.

I find it best to actually write the question and my response so that it is not some abstract thought or conclusion but will have specific answers and actions. Writing your thoughts will make them more concrete and will provide a specific basis for insight and change.

We will get through these trying times and be stronger and better as a result. It is difficult to believe now, but there will be good things that come from these times. We can help cultivate the good things by looking at ourselves and working to bring about the best through our beliefs, actions, behaviors and help for others.




Photo Credit: Ricardo Aguilera

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