How to Use “Most Important Question” Journaling to Get Clarity on Your Most Vexing Challenges

There’s a super-simple tool I’ve been using to get clarity on the toughest challenges I’m facing in life.

I started experimenting with this last summer. And I’m realizing now just how helpful it can be.

It’s called the Most Important Question (MIQ) exercise.

It goes like this:

1 – Identify your MIQ. At the end of your day, reflect on what the #1 most important question is for you to answer in your life right now. What’s the question that, if answered, would create the biggest positive impact in your life? At any point in time, there’s only ONE question that’s most important for us to solve in our life. Identifying it is half of the battle.

2 – Write your MIQ down. I do this in my journal. But you can use Evernote or another tool if you prefer that. (As a reminder, you’re noting this at the end of your day. Either the end of the workday if you want to use this to conquer work challenges, or before you go to bed if it’s more of a life challenge.)

3 – Stop worrying/thinking about the question. Once you’ve written it down, that’s your invitation for the mind to let go of wrestling with the challenge for the rest of the day. Do your best to stay present to the rest of the activities of your day.

4 – After a full night’s sleep, free-write on your question first-thing in the morning. When your mind is sharpest and clearest, and after your subconscious mind has had time to connect-the-dots around your MIQ…do a brain-dump about the topic. I often find that a challenge that previously felt intimidating, scary, or complex will feel simpler and easier to face.

5 – Use your journaling to make a decision. If there’s a decision that needs making, use your journaling to inform it. Trust your gut. Most of the time, you’re able to pick a path right then and there.

Of course, it doesn’t always work that way.

But many of the times, it does.

This is a powerful tool because it’s A) Planting a seed of the question in your subconscious, and B) Bringing your freshest AM mind to the task at hand.

So, if you’re wrestling with a sticky challenge…

Give it a go.

And here’s the cool thing: When you get in the habit of doing this, you’re making BIG strides towards solving the most important questions of your life, every single day.

How cool is that?

(I think it’s pretty cool.)

Here’s to you, cutting through your most vexing challenges like a hot knife through butter.

Hugs + high-fives,

Patrick


Notes

  1. I learned this tool from Joshua Waitzkin in a podcast interview with Tim Ferriss.

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  3. The 3 Disciplines of Mindful Performance (The E.A.T. Model)