Many experts in the field of personal development or motivation have told us to focus on the reasons why we should do whatever it takes to achieve a goal. A common statement that I have heard many a times over the years of studying personal development is “What is your ‘why’ for achieving a goal, or for living to the fullest, or for making positive changes in your life?”

During my years as a Life Coach, a common question that I used to ask my clients who sometimes got side-tracked was “What is at stake here?”

I clearly remember, in August 2010, I had a client who wanted to quit smoking and get fit by doing exercise five times a week. He was very driven and clearly saw the bigger picture. Yet, he sometimes did skip his gym sessions, and would light up a cigarette or two on the days that he did not go to the gym. I kept repeating the same question to him -“What is at stake here?”

He would respond with answers such as “My future, my health, my happiness, my self esteem, and my ability to achieve a goal”.

Then my follow-up question to him was “So, what is more important to you - your future, health, happiness, self esteem or your decision to skip the gym session and have a cigarette?”
The power that this question"What is at stake here?" has had over me and over the people that I have had the privilege of coaching has been amazing to say the least. It is a very simple, yet effective question.

I suggest that you use this question whenever you feel like you are slipping away from taking productive action that will lead you towards where you wish to get to.
Why is this question so powerful? Let’s have a detailed look at this question:

1. It reminds you of what you are working towards and everything that you wish to achieve – sometimes we need reminders of what rewards lie ahead if we stick to our plan, and take productive action with a mindset which is fixed on the goal and all that the goal will bring with it, once it is achieved.

2. It gives us a perspective of the opportunity cost – at high school and university, I enjoyed studying economics. I learnt about the concept of opportunity cost, and have been applying it to my life ever since. Economists define opportunity cost as “The value of the alternative use of a resource.” That resource could be your time, money, effort etc. So, instead of spending our resources on productive measures, we can get side tracked and do things which will not be purposeful in allowing us to get what we want. Going back to the example of my client mentioned above, I used to ask him “What is the opportunity cost of skipping the gym session and having a cigarette?”

3. It gives us the motivation to take productive action – when we are reminded of what is at stake, sometimes it can be a bit painful. It can be a bit disturbing. That could lead us to taking productive action. We are also reminded of the prize ahead. It helps us to keep our eyes on the prize! Then we are in a better position to take productive action.
Please ask yourself this question “What is at stake here?” whenever you feel like you are slipping away from where you should be and what you should be doing in order to get to where you wish to be.

While I realise that it is important to embrace the present moment, it can also be beneficial to put yourself in the future, and realise what you can create for yourself in the future, if only you do what is required to be done.

I love the way that the legendary motivational speaker Eric Thomas (or E.T) put it, when he said “You cannot live off your potential for the rest of your life.”

Your potential is there to be used. No part of your potential is to be unused.

Asking “What is at stake here?” can turn your potential into possibility, and your possibility into reality!
This question can be a very potent weapon in keeping you on the right track, and keeping you moving in the right direction.

Quote: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”Winston Churchill

I hope that I have given you a simple insight into maintaining momentum while working towards a more productive and rewarding life.

Inspiring you towards your excellence,
Ron Prasad (Author, Speaker, Life Coach & Executive Coach)

PS: If you are yet to order my book, please go For $19.95, you get the book, thousands of dollars in bonus gifts from some of the best personal development experts in the world (such as Bob Proctor, Marci Shimoff, Dr Joe Rubino), and you get to give back to the community by supporting my charity! I appreciate your support.

Author's Bio: 

Ronny Prasad is the author of the bestseller, WELCOME TO YOUR LIFE - simple insights for your inspiration & empowerment ( He is also an inspired speaker who empowers his audience with his enthusiasm and energy. His passion is inspiring and fulfilling lives, and sharing his insights with people around the world. He actively supports animal charities in many countries.