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.
Aloha,
Auntie Lynn
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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