I recently started watching the Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the 1985 book written by Margaret Atwood.  The dystopian novel and the TV series explore a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics, and the book is considered one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time. 

The most striking thing to me is how quickly the women in this dystopian world had the power of choice ripped away from them.  Their choices about their lives, bodies, and souls were now dictated by the powerful patriarchy that overthrew the United States government and created an all-controlling Republic of Gilead.

As a woman living in the United States in the 21st century, it has been incredibly disturbing to imagine not having the power of choice as was the handmaids’ experience in this story, but let’s be honest – oppression is happening to women in 2023 as well.  If you really think about it, there are women in dysfunctional, controlling relationships right in your own neighborhood and women in countries who still don’t have the right to vote.

But as I was considering the various messages that the book and the series “The Handmaid’s Tale” makes, I also had to find gratitude for the ability to make my own choices about my career, my children, my life, and my body.  That ability to make many of my own choices is something I’ve taken for granted and has been at the forefront of my mind lately.

I believe this is why, when someone mentioned the book, “The Right Questions,” by NY Times bestselling author, Debbie Ford, I was intrigued as soon as I read the following – “Our ability to make choices implies certain rights and freedoms.  If we can choose, then we can determine which decisions we will make about our bodies, our health, our relationships, our finances, our careers, our social lives, and our spiritual beliefs.

Choice allows us to pick, to select, and to decide between paths.  What makes each of us special and distinguishes us from all other forms of life is our capacity to weigh our options and make conscious, deliberate choices.  

Our today’s are based on the choices we made yesterday, and the ones we made three days ago, three months ago, and three years ago.  It’s really quite simple: if we want our lives to be different, all we have to do is make different choices.”

What Debbie Ford goes on to explain throughout the book are the ten simple questions that will give you the power and inspiration to consciously create a life you feel good about, one choice at a time.  Your answers to these ten questions will immediately clarify your thinking and support you in making the choices that are in your highest and best interest.

She warns that the questions might be deceptively simple, but they are incredibly powerful and can be used in any situation or at any crossroads.  Since I love the idea of asking powerful questions – questions we may not normally think to ask ourselves – I wanted to empower you to ask the questions as well.

This week I’m going to discuss the 10 “Right Questions” and explore each one and its importance for all of us to consider as women and mothers. 

Question #1 – Will this choice propel me toward an inspiring future, or will it keep me stuck in the past?

This is an incredibly important question to ask yourself when it comes to making a decision about so many things, whether professionally or personally.  You may have heard the saying, “You’re either pushed by pain or pulled by a vision,” but it’s important to be moving forward instead of being stuck in the past.

Maybe you’ve also heard this analogy that there’s a reason that the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield in your car – you’re supposed to be focusing forward; you’re supposed to have a much bigger view of what’s in front of you rather than what’s behind you.  That’s how you also have to look at various choices – toward what’s inspiring you for the future, not what’s keeping you stuck in the past.

I know it can be challenging to let go of the past, especially if you’ve been hurt by something or someone, but remember you have the power of choice.  Even choosing not to make a decision is still a decision, but make sure you’re using your power of choice from a place of inspiration rather than fear.


Question #2 – Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment, or will it bring me short-term gratification?

With this question, it’s important to understand how your brain works.  I’ve talked about this numerous times on the podcast, but here’s what’s important to understand about your brain – your lower, primitive brain is motivated by immediate gratification, just like when a toddler throws a temper tantrum because they want what they want when they want it.

That lower part of your brain will try to strongly convince you to go for the choice that will bring you short-term gratification.  However, the higher, prefrontal cortex part of your brain is the part that isn’t fully formed until you’re around 26 years of age, and it has the ability to delay immediate gratification for long-term fulfillment.

Again, it can be challenging to make the choice that brings long-term fulfillment instead of short-term gratification, but it’s an important awareness to have, especially if you’re not happy with your current results


Question #3 – Am I standing in my power, or am I trying to please another?

This is especially important for women because we are often socialized at an early age to be people-pleasers.  We are taught by well-meaning adults that putting other people’s needs before our own wants, needs, and desires are what “good girls” do.

Standing in our power requires us to let go of the need to make others like us and instead stand committed to honoring ourselves, even if our choices go against popular opinion.  Standing in our power demands that we are vulnerable, listen to our own voice, and take risks outside the comfort of what we know.

Too often, we think others know what we should do, so we wait for their approval and guidance; I know I’ve been guilty of that.  We need to stand up and take charge of our lives – we need to stop trying to be good little girls and be strong, empowered women instead.


Question #4 – Am I looking for what’s right, or am I looking for what’s wrong?  

As accountants, we seek the solution to other people’s financial problems.  On the one hand, that’s great because we are valued professionals, but on the other hand, that’s not so great because our accountant brain becomes hard-wired to see problems so we can solve them; therefore, we often naturally look for what’s wrong as opposed to what’s right.

If you’re not familiar with the reticular activating system (RAS) of your brain, at any one time, there are about 8 billion bits of information streaming into your brain – most of which you cannot attend to, nor do you need to.  So your brain’s RAS filters most of them out, letting into your awareness only those signals that match what you think is important.  

Unfortunately, if you’ve normalized looking for what’s wrong or finding problems to solve, that’s what your brain will show you proof of – what’s wrong and what’s a problem.  You have to begin to direct your brain to look for what’s right more often.


Question #5 – Will this choice add to my life force, or will it rob me of my energy? 

This is an important question for all working moms to ask themselves.  Debbie Ford explains that each day we are faced with a multitude of choices – we decide what we will eat, how much rest and exercise we will give our bodies, and at what pace we will go about our daily activities.

Each choice we make either adds to our life force or robs us of our vitality.  It’s too easy to take our energy for granted, especially when we’re constantly running around trying to balance our work with our families.

But one of the best places to take the question to heart is with our time management – while planning our calendars, we must begin to ask if we’re scheduling enough time for things that add to our energy or rob us of our energy.


Question #6 – Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve, or will I use it to beat myself up? 

If you haven’t yet listened to episode #213, where I interviewed Lara Johnson about how to stop yelling at your kids, you should check it out.  During that interview, we discussed how important it is to be gentle with ourselves and wipe the slate clean, allowing each new day to be an opportunity to grow and evolve.

What often happens is that we believe we need to beat ourselves up to motivate us not to do something again, like yelling at our kids.  But the truth is that there is no upside to beating ourselves up because shame and guilt never fuel positive action moving forward.

While we cannot control many situations in our lives, we do have control over what we think about those situations to help us move forward.  I suggest you ask this question whenever you have any mean girl thoughts about yourself swirling around in your head.


Question #7 – Does this choice empower me, or does it disempower me? 

One of the buzzwords we hear quite often is “empowered,” but what does it really mean to be empowered?  Debbie Ford shares that to empower means to give or add power, to propel.  When you’re empowered, you feel strong, alive, and clear.

People who are empowered stand up for themselves and invite others to do the same.  They provide hope to those who are struggling.  They are natural leaders who inspire those around them.

The choice to do this podcast was something that I initially struggled with, but I saw it as an opportunity to convey the empowerment that I feel to you all as well.  It’s not always easy to make a choice that empowers you because it often comes with having to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but when you choose to be empowered, you’re also an example of that for your children.


Question #8 – Is this an act of self-love, or is it an act of self-sabotage?  

To understand the difference between self-love and self-sabotage, you have to focus on the word “self.”  Self-love makes us acutely aware of our own needs and supports us in doing whatever it takes to meet these needs on a regular basis.  The truth is that we teach people how to treat us based on how we treat ourselves.

On the other hand, self-sabotage is what we do when we allow unhealthy commitments to direct us away from our desired destinations.  We go through our days in a state of distress and unease, we deny ourselves our own love, and we are worried about what other people think of us.

Acts of self-love could be as simple as scheduling free time for yourself, not overscheduling your children, not depending on caffeine to get through the day, getting to bed earlier, and learning how to set better boundaries.  So before you make a decision about something, remember to ask whether it’s an act of self-love or an act of self-sabotage.


Question #9 – Is this an act of faith, or is it an act of fear? 

When I think about the word “faith,” it’s not the religious or spiritual connotation, but instead, a foundation of what I choose to believe about myself, about other people, and about everything else in this world we live in.  To me, an act of faith is about trusting that no matter what, I will have my own back as I make choices that move me forward with my goals and dreams.

Fear, on the other hand, keeps us stuck.  While it’s natural to feel fear, we also have to question whether fear is necessary in the moment; fear of the unknown, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear of the future – these fears can keep us trapped and shut us down.

As you manage your brain, you begin to trust in yourself more.  The best act of faith is to work on what you believe about yourself and build your self-confidence.  


Question #10 – Am I choosing from my higher brain, or am I choosing from my lower brain? 

Debbie Ford’s original question in the book was, “Am I choosing from my divinity or am I choosing from my humanity?” but I decided to edit it to be instead, “Am I choosing from my higher brain or am I choosing from my lower brain?”  This is one of the most important questions I ask myself all day, every day.

As I shared before, our lower brain is motivated by 3 things – to seek pleasure, to avoid pain, and to conserve energy – and when we aren’t aware of or managing our lower brain, we experience so many issues and results we’re unhappy with.   However, when we understand how to use our higher brain, the part of our brain that helps us make better decisions, we can have much more control over our results.

Being aware of whether you are choosing from your higher brain or from your lower brain makes it possible to feel less stress and overwhelm, improve your relationships, better manage your time, make more money, set better boundaries, and feel happier.  I believe this last question is more important than all the others because it gives us options and allows us to challenge what’s possible. 

So now that you know these 10 questions, I hope you go back, re-listen, and spend a little time answering them.  Once you have the answers, now you need to start living your answers.  But how?  Debbie Ford suggests you work with a coach and of course I couldn’t agree more.

She shares that the coaches she worked with held her accountable for doing exactly what she said she was going to do, pointed out her blind spots, and championed her growth.  If you are interested in having your own coach to do the same for you, that’s what I’m here for – email me at dawn.goldberg@cpamoms.com and we’ll schedule a call to discuss how to move you forward.




If we can choose, then we can determine which decisions we will make about our bodies, our health, our relationships, our finances, our careers, our social lives, and our spiritual beliefs.

What makes each of us special and distinguishes us from all other forms of life is our capacity to weigh our options and make conscious, deliberate choices.  

It’s really quite simple: if we want our lives to be different, all we have to do is make different choices.