Is Your Ladder Up Against the Right Wall?

Many years ago, I read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The author, Stephen Covey concluded that the lives of even successful people are often a mess. According to him if they could live their lives over again, they would do so very differently.

As a young person this blew my mind.

I wanted success but without the regrets and disillusionment.

Is your ladder leaning up against the right wall? That was the question from the 7 Habits I’ve carried forward ever since.

It’s easy for our lives to fill up and get busy. To scramble up the ladder of life only to realise – sometimes too late – that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

As the year kicks off this is a good reminder to me.

To pay attention. To be mindful and conscious about where I might be drifting and what I really want out of life. It’s possible to spend a lot of energy on the wrong things. It’s important to be vigilant.

Time passes so quickly. We get onto a path. One-year blurs into the next.

As Covey puts it: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

What’s the point of that?

Over the years I’ve developed a series of questions. They help me think about where I am going and who I’m becoming in the process.

I find it helpful to write too. Writing is thinking and writing is clarifying. Thinking and clarifying … both are important.

And so, I offer you the questions. There are 23 of them. Probably too many, but each I find useful. They are not exclusive or exhaustive. They just work for me.

Hopefully all, or at least some, will work for you too.

The questions are organised into 3 perspectives. These help me to organise my thinking.

Mark the ones you’d like to respond to.

Perhaps add others of your own.


Step away.

Come back again.

Write some more.

Keep thinking and keep clarifying.

So now it’s your turn. Just start! It’s never perfect.

Looking Backwards

  1. What am I most proud of having achieved in the past 12 months?
  2. Where did I disappoint and let myself down?
  3. What lessons did I learn from my achievements and disappointments?
  4. What powerful piece of advice do I give myself for the year ahead?
  5. What do I want to be different in my life 1 year from now? (More of / Less of?)

Looking Inwards

  1. What do I fear the most? Which of these fears do I plan to tackle?
  2. What is currently going on in my life that no longer serves the person I wish to become?
  3. What season of life am I currently in and what is life asking of me?
  4. How do I limit myself?
  5. What do I say to myself to explain and justify these limitations?
  6. What new story can I begin to tell myself to shift from limitation to possibility?
  7. When am I at my best, filled with energy, vitality and joy?
  8. What part of me needs to evolve, grow up and change?
  9. What habits serve me best and which do I need to let go of?
  10. What relationships must I invest in, mend, or restore?
  11. Is my environment helping me to grow?
  12. What’s missing in my life right now? (It was once there but seems to have gone away) How can I get it back?
  13. What is the ultimate criteria by which I measure my life?

Looking Forwards

  1. What am I most excited about when I think of the next 12 months?
  2. What big challenges will I have to face and overcome in the next 12 months?
  3. How do I plan to grow?
  4. What are my personal goals that will define success for me this year?
  5. What is my major focus for the year ahead? Answer the question; “This will be the year that I …?”

Download the 23 questions here

I’d love to know how it goes. Please comment below or mail me at

If you’d like to be in touch please call me on +27 82 894 4288 or mail me on

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