How to Use Driving Questions to Shape Your Life

Asking yourself the right questions can change the direction of your life. Here's how to utilize driving questions to live a better, more fulfilling life.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #319

  • What’s going to go wrong today?

  • How are the kids going to mess up at school?

  • What’s going to hold up the project this time?

  • Who’s going to be the big obstructionist at work today?

  • What am I missing?

Away from questions fix and avoid problems. They send you into a life of scanning the world for threats, locking on, and neutralizing! What they don’t do is focus your life on a specific destination. As a driving question, away from questions are better if you want to live your life as a caretaker. if you want to accomplish goals in your life, a toward question makes more sense.

Toward questions do keep you going somewhere specific, but as the ancient Chinese curse says, “If you do not change direction, you will get where you are going.” Toward questions can blind you to everything else.

Being a graduate of Harvard Business School, I know a lot of people whose driving question is: “How can I make more money today?” Let’s just say that as a question to drive your life, that one has some pretty bad side effects. Just ask their ex-husbands, wives, spousal equivalents, boyfriends, girlfriends, polyamorous family units, and children.

You Have One Driving Question

By the time you’re my age, you’ll have lots and lots of questions to ask. But only one or two will be the questions that you return to, that drive your attention and shape your life. Those are the questions you want to pay close attention to.

Since my programming days are far behind me, my driving questions these days is some combination of:

  • Has any new email come in since last time I checked?

  • What’s happening on Facebook?

  • What’s on TV tonight? Netflix? Hulu?

  • Why am I not accomplishing more?

  • Where are my Oreos?

Imagine living life as me, using those questions to guide me. I’ll end up spending my time checking email, looking at Facebook, being sad that my time is being sucked into email and Facebook, and stuffing myself with Oreos. It’s not a pretty picture, folks, which is why I need new driving questions.

Choose Your Question

The good news is that your driving question is under your control, and the question you choose will change your life. Here are some questions that will send you in the direction of having a more enjoyable, more connected life. They’re broad enough to give flexibility, and specific enough to set good directions…and maybe even change the world. Choose one or two of these and answer, just to try them on:

  • What would be fun to do today? What do I want to do?

  • Who do I want to serve today?

  • What can I do today that would make my life extraordinary?

  • How can I become a better person today?

  • What can I do today to change the world for the better?

  • What can I do or learn today that I’ve never down before?

  • How can I create some happy memories with my loved ones?

  • What can I do today to start playing a bigger game?

Start to notice your driving question. If you think another one would serve you, choose it. Practice it every morning, every afternoon, and every evening. Put it on your phone’s lock screen so you are reminded of it every time you’re tempted to waste your precious, irreplaceable life by texting. Ask, then write down 10–20 answers. If you find yourself glossing over it after a few days, don’t. Re-ask, really consider, and really answer. Do this for 66 days, until the question becomes automatic.

Then watch your life change.

I'm Stever Robbins. I help high achievers design the driving questions that will accelerate or change their lives. If you want to know more, visit www.SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.