“True forgiveness, true healing, and true freedom are all about seeing that the past isn’t here anymore. Now really is a new beginning.”
- Robert Holden, Ph.D.
My motto for life: “Now is Everything.”
I didn’t just wake up with this motto; in fact, it took a great deal of pain to realize that all each one of us truly has is our right now. Nothing else is guaranteed—nothing.
Unfortunately, this motto is hard to put into action. Overall, it’s probably one of the toughest pieces of knowledge to utilize in our daily lives. That is why I connected immediately with Michelle Ward. We share this motto. However, Michelle has taken its wisdom a step further as a life coach and through her incredibly popular blog, When I Grow Up. Each week, Michelle hosts Tough (Question) Tuesdays, during which she poses a tough question for readers to reflect upon and then answer. These questions truly stimulate your personal growth in new directions each week. I’ve become completely addicted to this weekly exercise and was fortunate enough to ask Michelle some questions about those Tough Questions for Psychology Today. In essence, I turned the table around a bit! Michelle is fully committed to making the process as transparent as possible while she retains her focus on “now is everything.” But that’s not easy, and she will be the first to admit that.
Carolyn: How did you decide to begin the Tough (Question) Tuesday series? Did the idea just pop into your head one day? I think it’s pure genius!
Michelle: Simply enough, I thought of Tough (Question) Tuesday when I was trying to find ideas for a weekly series on my blog. I realized that one of my favorite posts thus far was a super short one where I just asked a simple question: "What's the decision that you need to be making that you're not making now?" There was barely anything else that was written, and yet it made a huge impact on me, just asking that question to myself. I realized that having a short post every week that contained just one question without lots of "fluff," and invited my readers (and myself!) to comment, could be a very powerful thing.
Carolyn: How do you come up with these TOUGH questions?
Michelle: Inspiration comes from everywhere! Sometimes it would come from my coaching classes, where I would hear a question that would resonate with me, and I'd write it down with big bold stars around it. Other times, I take it from the work I do with my clients, reflecting on what I asked them in the past week that seemed to have clicked. And yet other times, I pull from my own life by asking myself what question might help me jump over the hurdle that I'm facing.
Carolyn: What are your three “toughest” questions to date? Which three questions have people really identified with the most?
Michelle: I've done 41 Tough (Question) Tuesdays to date, so this is one tough question for me, Carolyn! The three questions that have generated the most comments:
I don't think I can say that these—or any of my questions, really—are The Toughest, because I think that's a matter of opinion based on what you're uniquely going through. I honestly think the questions have been getting tougher, especially these last three weeks, but I think that can be easily contested, especially since there was such a small response! But one of my readers noted that there was little to no response because the question was too tough!
Carolyn: Do you find these tough questions personally beneficial since you answer them as well?
Michelle: Yes! When I asked, "What's a goal that you've walked away from that you want back," I commented that while I don't want to make my living as a musical theater performer any more, I really missed the singing that I used to do a few times a week. This question allowed me to figure out how I could get the singing back into my life on my new terms—without auditioning or paying for lessons—and I have, since then, belted it out in my bedroom more than once. I think, too, that these comments make you (and me!) publicly accountable, and that'll make you (and me!) more apt to follow through.
Carolyn: In general, how do you think people benefit from asking themselves questions and/or answering tough questions about their lives?
Michelle: Any life coach worth their salt will say that questions are like keys that unlock doors you've never walked through before. I feel like a great life coach is there to listen, ask questions, and support. All the other stuff (encouraging clients to celebrate, having fun, holding them accountable, etc.) is icing. I feel strongly that asking questions is the best way to put things into focus, to get clarity as to what it is you want (not your spouse or your mother or your best friend), to figure out how to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, and to actually make things happen. I can almost hear an audible "click" when a client answers a powerful question, and when that happens, I can guarantee you that the client is coming back to me the following week with a big win and an extra dose of pep, optimism, and excitement.
Carolyn: Okay, final question, and it’s totally for my personal benefit! What would you ask someone to think about when they’ve accomplished something big, like, just for example, published their first book? [Note: PERSEVERANCE was released nationwide on Tuesday!]
Michelle: "How are you gonna celebrate this big, fat, major accomplishment?" There would be a second part, too—actually implementing it! Figure out how you (not your mom, not your publisher, not your fiancé...) want to honor this win, and set it up. You're worth it!
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I hope you enjoyed this little Q and A with Michelle Ward! She is a truly wonderful person! Be sure to visit her blog and check out her extremely tough questions! For information about Michelle’s life coaching services, you can visit her website. Thank you, Michelle!
* Do you have a tough question you want to ask? Post one in the comment section!
* How do you celebrate your personal accomplishments?
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