Use the Five Why Questioning Technique

Photo: Frank and Eileen’s Rose by Lynn Davison

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates, at his heresy trial for teaching young people to challenge the thinking of the day.

” Nobody sees a flower — really — it is so small it takes time — we haven’t time — and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

Last week you started categorizing your daily tasks into eight categories (finance, food, health, home, jobs, keeping, learning and legacy.) Take a moment now to examine one financial habit to discover its root cause. Let me give you an example.

“Paying bills,” is likely one financial habit on your list. Let’s take it through the five question technique to see what we discover.

1. We paid our bills last week. Why? Because we didn’t want them to be late.

2. Why? Because we want to avoid paying late fees and getting dinged on our credit records.

3. Why?  So we can borrow money when we need to, rent an apartment if necessary, and/or get a job requiring a credit check.

4. Why? So we can live in our own home, take advantage of the tax deductibility of mortgage interest and get a good job.

5. Why? So we can live the lifestyle we want.

Therefore we cultivate responsible financial habits, like paying our bills on-time,  so we can enjoy the lifestyle of our dreams.

Take one of your financial habits and apply the five why questioning technique. I bet you’ll discover that you have very good reasons for doing what you do. So, where does this examining process lead you?

First, you’ll understand better why you’ve adopted the habits you rely on every day. Now you know why you must advocate these habits to your children (if you have any,) or to anyone you mentor. Examining the core benefit of each of your habits helps you understand fully why you must master them and cements your motivation to practice them.

By grouping your habits into categories you can see your life pattern more clearly. Once you pull all your habits and motivations together into a plan, you’ll be able to examine them .

  • You could see where you’d like to add habits or strengthen your resolve to practice some more regularly.
  • You may notice where you’ve been able to teach habits to your children/mentees and where you need to re-double your efforts.
  • Perhaps you will even see where you have been trying to do too much yourself and need to delegate or subtract habits to better balance your output to your capacity.
Perhaps most important, you could share your discoveries with your life partner, your life coach or your family. What you could learn from each other while discussing your life plan is infinite.
Let me know how it goes.
Auntie Lynn

Let’s start with what you know

The first question most life planners ask strikes me as over-ambitious, “What do you want to do with your life?” Just reading that question makes me feel like I’ve been punched square in the jaw. “What is your most important goal?” also makes me feel like I’ve just had all the wind knocked out of me.

I vote for starting with what we know, what we do every day. Let’s make writing a strategic plan for our life as easy as it can be. Plus let’s make it a project that can be done in pieces, because that is the only way it will get done. We have a life to live while we’re planning it; the kids have to be fed and picked up from school, bills have to be paid, and laundry must be done.

So, take out a plain piece of paper, the kind you have in your printer. Fold it in half and then in half again. Open it up and fold it again, long ways. Now you have a piece of paper with eight rectangles.

Write at the top of each rectangle one of each of the following words, in this order: Finance, Food, Health, Home, Job, Keeping, Learning and Legacy. Now write down what you need to do under each of those areas of your life. Don’t worry about writing them in the order of their importance; just get them down on this paper.

The first five categories are self-explanatory. Keeping is managing all the details that make your lifestyle possible. For example, getting a haircut, taking library books back, putting gas in your vehicles and keeping them maintained.

Learning is anything you do, for yourself or your children that enhances what you know. For example, music lessons or sports practice or going to the library all fall under learning. Reading the paper, a book or a blog also fall under learning.

Legacy is anything you do that makes memories. Celebrations like birthdays, holidays and reunions contribute to the legacy of your family. How you solve problems and how you teach your children to get along with each other will stay in their memories and yours.

If you wonder about which category your ‘to do’ falls under, just put it where the arrow points most strongly. For example, we could argue that helping the kids with homework falls under learning. However, isn’t doing well at school really our kids’ job?

Do this for a few days, checking off what you get done. Let me know your questions. I can’t wait to answer them.

Aloha, Auntie Lynn

Did she just say strategic plan? What does that have to do with me??

When we are motivated by goals that have deep meaning, by dreams that need completion, by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life. ~ Greg Anderson

What will creating your life plan do for you? Just imagine…

  1. Every time you pause to read your plan you will think, “I can do this!” And then you will do it.
  2. Whenever you stop to tinker with your plan, to change or rearrange the words, you will think, “Yes, that helps. I’m getting closer to what I really want to do.” And then you will do it.
  3. When you hear someone say something that rings in your heart, you will look at your plan to make sure the essence of what they said is in there. If it isn’t, you will work to incorporate it. And then you will think, “I am grateful to them for speaking what is in my heart.” And then you will do it.
  4. When you are tempted to do something that looks attractive but does not align with your plan, you will say, “No.” And you will mean it.
  5. Every time you share it with your partner, you will become closer, more aligned and in tune with each other. And then you will both do it.
  6. As you teach others to create their own life plan, you will learn what you didn’t know about planning your life. And then you will learn it. Plus you might be surprised by what your students do.
  7. As your children grow and you teach them how to create their own life plan, you will watch them do it. And then you will marvel at what they have done and delight in their happiness. And you will think a thousand thoughts and remember a million memories and know that whatever you did was worth it.

Is it worth your time to decide what you want out of life? Take a moment to watch this video:

Steven Jobs’ 2005 Stanford U Commencement Address

Together we can create your life plan.

Aloha, Auntie Lynn

Organize your life into nine categories

Photo: Lynn Davison

Being a mom reminds me of being a student. The work never ends, I can always think of more things to do to enhance my grades/family and spending time with the people I love is the best. I remember thinking these same thoughts years ago at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

So here is where my satisfaction with my Weekly To Do List faded. Sure I was keeping track of what I needed to do and where I needed to be (most of the time.) But when I could catch my breath, I was having a hard time choosing what I should do next. Of the one hundred plus things to do, which was most important to do at this time?

I decided to use another tool from my years in business: a project plan. Here I listed my things to do and projects by type. After a few months trying different names for categorizing my next actions and projects, I found I could organize everything I did into nine areas of focus:

  1. Finance: Tracking spending, reviewing our investments and insurances plus teaching our kids frugal habits.
  2. Food: Designing menus, grocery shopping, storing supplies, preparing, serving and cleaning up after meals, researching new recipes, teaching our children nutrition and right-sized portions, etc.
  3. Health: Taking children to the doctor, dentist, orthodontist, therapist, and specialist; scheduling regular medical tests like mammograms and colonoscopies, pap smears, etc. and stress management (!) and teaching our children healthy habits. Oh, and exercising, sometimes. Daily.
  4. Home: Laundry, cleaning, straightening, gardening, maintenance, decorating, painting, garbage, recycling, taxes, cable, internet, cell phones (well, they have to go somewhere,) and teaching the kids to pick up and organize their rooms.
  5. Jobs: School, work, studying, volunteering, and teaching our kids how to work hard and the value of grit.
  6.  Keeping: Cars, clothes, computers, haircuts, library books, postage stamps, dry cleaning and keeping it all organized and teaching our kids lean, uncluttered habits.
  7. Learning: Sports, music, acting, dancing, reading, and tutoring and fostering an appreciation of the arts and sports in our kids.
  8. Legacy: Birthday Parties, vacations, photography, photo- and scrap booking, crafts, pets, movies, television, emotion management, relationship and problem solving skills and teaching our children to savor family time and resolve disagreements in a mutually satisfactory manner through civil discussion.
  9. Virtues: Parenting, family rules and values that guide our actions and teach our children how to realize inner security, abundance and personal moral authority.

It helped me to break my work into these mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive groups as it always does when we break big, scary projects into smaller pieces. It also gave me a way to bring order to the many important parts of being head of a large household.

  • Now I had a way to organize all my projects.
  • I file our papers in one tub with tabs using these nine areas of focus.
  • bookmark my favorite websites using folders with these names.
  • track our expenses using these categories.
  • I organize my files on my computer as well.

I organized my projects, papers, Internet bookmarks, computer files and expenses.  It helped me establish a sense of order around our household. Any parent will tell you that just taming the paperwork is no small task. However, focusing on each of these nine areas helped me the most when I used another tool from my days in the corporate world: the strategic plan.

Aloha, Auntie Lynn

Start with what you know

I’d been a manager of clients, projects and people for more than 18 years at work, and I had learned how to use tools to keep me organized. The first was a To Do List, which I mentioned earlier was growing quickly. The second was a calendar where I kept appointments. So far, so good. But not enough.

My burning desire was and is to have a close-knit family. I want each of us to be healthy, safe and wise. It would also be nice if everyone would pick up after themselves, do the dishes and their own laundry, study hard at school, get a job during the summer, exercise daily, eat home-cooked meals, save enough for retirement, go to bed on time, live a principle-centered life…my wish list was endless.

Thank goodness I found Marcia Garcia at She advocated keeping a Master To Do List. And chunking projects to work on a little each day. And to get rid of two bags of things each month (from a reader’s shared idea.) And lots of other organizing activities that made a BIG difference in our lives. However, the first idea that had a huge impact was the Master To Do List.

I find it demoralizing to copy To Do Lists over and over because it wastes time and just magnifies what I haven’t gotten done. Instead of just one list, Marcia suggests keeping your Master To Do List grouped by type. For example, my Master To Do List started out being categorized by phone calls, errands, correspondence, projects and miscellaneous tasks sections. Every week I picked a few entries from the Master List to complete during my week, printed it and carried it in my wallet. As I thought of new things to do or made appointments, I would jot them down on this list. Here is the template for my former Weekly To Do List:|

This approach worked for me for about a year. Until…

Aloha, Auntie Lynn

Why did I invent Framework4LIfe?

More than fourteen years ago I left the corporate world to be a full-time mom to our seven children (though one is in heaven.) Our newest daughter had just arrived home at only five months old. Our oldest had just gotten married.

Being at home full-time meant that we would finally be less rushed, better fed, more healthy, organized and on-time to every appointment. I dreamed of completing creative projects and taking beautiful photos of our growing, adorable children. I imagined harmonious days of closeness, baking hot cookies to welcome my kids’ arrival home from school, eating home-cooked dinners followed by cozy nights reading books together before nodding off to sleep. Life would be so much better!

Reality, however, was different. I had totally underestimated the amount of attention my then four-year-old son would need (and deserved.) Taking care of a young baby took lots of energy as well. The house was more chaotic and messier with everyone at home all day. My To Do List got longer and longer.

In fact, now that I was home 24/7 I could see so many project possibilities every day. Up close they looked more numerous, urgent and necessary than ever. Yet it seemed like I was getting less done at home than when I was working 50 – 60 hours a week. It was hard to finish a thought much less a project with two young children needing care all day plus two more coming home every afternoon and two more independent children needing encouragement. I starting feeling overwhelmed and uptight just as I had when I was working full-time. I felt exactly the opposite of how I had imagined I would feel.

Being a research geek, I knew there had to be something I could learn that could help me. I looked in the library, in bookstores and on-line (the internet was just beginning to blossom.) After all, mothers have been doing this job forever. How hard could it be?

Aloha, Auntie Lynn

Living in the Sweet Spot

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~ Lao-tzu

I want my children, grandchildren and readers to know that living in the sweet spot is one of those easy/hard things to do.  You all know what I mean by ‘living in the sweet spot’ — it is when you feel confident, energized and focused.  In the zone. With the force. In the groove.

Living in the sweet spot became easier for me when I defined the life I wanted. Going for that life puts me in my sweet spot.  It is really that simple.

It is also hard because defining the life I want takes time and energy and experience (both good and bad.) Plus I never stop defining what I want because my definition, like me, evolves. I do believe that my framework has given me the tools, and the push I need to get closer and closer to what is really important in my life.

It is not only possible but also critical to live my life in the sweet spot for that is the way I fulfill my promise, live my potential and make my unique difference in the world. Living that way makes me happy (and I want you to be happy, too.)

In this blog I write about how I use my Framework4Life to help define my best life and channel my energy in the direction that is right for me.  It keeps me organized and helps me understand that everything I do, however small, is another step toward achieving my life’s mission.

I think my Framework4Life will work for you, too.  You can use it anywhere.  All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil or pen (or a keyboard and a computer/smartphone.)

I want to give you the benefit of my experience plus point you to others who have made a difference in my life because I hope it will make your life easier.  Maybe you’ll avoid some of the mistakes I made. Most likely you’ll make you own mistakes : ).  Don’t worry. I have found that learning what not to do is just as valuable as learning what to do.

Are you interested? If so, subscribe to my blog. It costs nothing. You’ll gain a lot. Do it.

Aloha, Auntie Lynn