Use these questions in many different situations — after presentations, after completion of a project or major task, after job interviews, after the start of a new job ...

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After helping a client prepare for a major presentation in front of a large crowd at an industry meeting, we sat down to discuss how it went. She immediately turned to me and said, “How did I do? Is there anything I could have done better?”

I smiled, but didn’t answer her. That’s because there are three questions I wanted her to ask herself so she could determine her own lessons from the situation. They are:

1. What went well?
2. What didn’t go as well as expected?
3. What would I do differently if I could have a “do-over”?

I use these questions in many different situations — after presentations, after completion of a project or major task, after job interviews, after the start of a new job … the list is almost endless.

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I also ask myself these questions after the same instances. In addition, I use them after other events, such as meeting with a boss or editor, coaching/mentoring others, writing articles/blogs/books, etc. Why do I do this? Because it’s usually through searching for answers ourselves that we learn the most.

Seeking to understand the answers to these three questions leads to knowledge. With knowledge comes wisdom, and with wisdom and experience you can improve and advance in your career. Let’s look at each of the questions.

What went well? This asks you to think about the reasons to give yourself (or others) a pat on the back. It highlights the specific things you did well so you can remember those positive actions later.

What didn’t go as well as expected? This draws out areas for improvement. These are things within your power to control, but the question can also reveal areas that may be outside your span of control.

What would I do differently if I could have a “do-over”? This encourages self-learning, because it asks you to apply the answers from the first two questions in a way that will help you improve your performance.

Answering these three questions will increase your self-awareness and encourage self-learning. Life is filled with experiences, and the key to success is being able to learn from them.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.