The Key Question: "What Else?"

One of the most powerful personal finance tools you have at your disposal isn’t a spending or investment app. Or, a spreadsheet. It isn’t your income statement or balance sheet, either. It’s a question.

Preferably one that begins with the word – “What?”

I have long known this. It’s one of the reasons you hear me tout the importance of insight over information; it’s why I say let the “activity” of inquiry guide the actions you take.

But last week’s Financial Intimacy Hour provided even more proof! My guest, Heidi Johnson, and I had a vibrant conversation about the ways in which curiosity can improve your career, life and money decisions. (click here to grab the replay.)

When I asked Heidi what one thing would she recommend for living more curiously in 2015, she responded: “…ask ‘What Else?'”

I plan to. You might want to give it a try, as well.

Here’s why.

This time of the year gets crazy. And not just because it’s the holiday season. But because it is also when the usual year-end review and new year goal-setting kicks in. In between the holiday gatherings and gift shopping, you’re most likely reflecting on this year’s goals and dreams, and claiming how you want 2015 to be different (better, perhaps?).

And if you are like many of my clients before we start to work together, ALL of this is happening in your head!!

The “busyness” of the season prevents you from slowing down long enough to get out on paper where you are versus where you thought you’d be, along with where you still want to be.

I know you are smart, but you need to get out of your head! Especially if experiencing more success (however you define that) is one of your aims.

Make 2015 the Year of “What Else?”

Asking, “What else?” can help.

Specifically, it can stop you from only:

  • doing your year-end assessment, mentally
  • declaring your goals and dreams, vocally
  • affirming what you want to change, vocally

The benefits of asking “what else?” are many:

It sets you up to review the past and plan for your future – without judgment.

It gives you an opportunity to dig deeper to ensure you go beyond the surface (aka the obvious).

And when those urges to lay out a how-to plan surface, it will help you table that temptation until a more appropriate time when such a step will actually have some value.

Imagine if your every desire for 2015 came true – what would accomplishing your goals look like; how would it feel to achieve your dreams; what habits and choices do you envision needing to make?

Asking “What else?” will help you navigate and negotiate the space between your current reality and the one you desire to create. It will ensure you are both strategic and tactical – at just the right times and in the right way.

For me, one of the ways I am using the “What else?” question is to help me uncover the questions I didn’t ask (looking back) or haven’t yet (looking forward).

So as you begin to wind down 2014 and welcome 2015, take ten minutes each day to ask “What else?” Ask it when looking at the various dimensions of your money (earn, save, invest, and spend) and dimensions of your life (family&friends, professional, finances, values/spiritual), and how these all intersect.

As I told a journalist who interviewed me recently, sometimes the action you need to take is to ask a question.

Questions help you get out of your head. They help you shift from over-emphasizing knowing-how to understanding “knowing why.” Remember, your emotions drive your money decisions. Finally, questions – especially “what” inspired ones – truly are your most powerful tool for getting money to do what you want it to do for you. So…ask ’em and do it often!

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