The Miracle Question and The Evidence Question

I recently read a fantastic book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and I was really struck by an interesting framework they shared that is used by Solutions-Focused Therapists. They use the Miracle Question and the Evidence Question to help patients resolve a particular problem they’re experiencing.

The therapist first poses The Miracle Question:

 "Something must have happened! I look different!"

"Something must have happened! I look different!"

“Suppose that you go to bed tonight and sleep well. Sometime, in the middle of the night, while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and all the troubles that brought you here are resolved. When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first small sign you’d see that would make you think, ‘Well, something must have happened—the problem is gone!’?”

The book points out that the question “doesn’t ask you to describe the miracle itself but to identify the tangible signs that the miracle happened.”

I started thinking about this in the context of being crushed by your job.

What would the first small sign be for you that you were no longer crushed by your job?

Would it be something that happens right when you wake up? Would it be noticeable at work? Would it be something in your personal life that has nothing to do with work?

I could imagine it being something completely different for different people:

  • Waking up before your alarm
  • Spending quality time with friends/family/your partner and having 0% of the conversation be about your job
  • Having the energy to exercise or do hobbies when you get home
  • Staying late at work because you’re excited about what you’re up to
  • Inspired to pick up some old interests you’ve neglected
  • A colleague praises you on your work or you’re nominated for an award

The question that comes after that is the Evidence Question:

"When was the last time you saw a little bit of the miracle, even just for a short time?"

Thinking back on my own personal experience, the tiniest glimpse that a miracle had occurred in my life had everything to do with my energy.

At the height of my unhappiness at work, I was extremely conservative with my time and resources because I had such low energy. I would need to spend at least 3 or 4 weeknights recharging solo at home so I wasn’t exhausted the rest of the time.

So the first sign of the miracle for me was that I was happy to spend all 5 weeknights doing activities — seeing friends, going to events, participating in a choir, etc. My own happiness at work really allowed me to have the energy to spend time with loved ones and pursue hobbies. I felt a return of my generosity with my time and energy instead of stinginess.

When was the last time you saw the tiniest glimpse of your own miracle? What was happening at that time? What tiny tweaks can you try to get back to that feeling?

If you're analytically minded and feeling uninspired or crushed by an ill-fitting job, I'm running my first group program pilot in August 2018 - Crushed to Confident. Get un-crushed, rigorously evaluate and understand your current role and confidently make career decisions that feel good to you. Join the list here to be the first to know more about the program when it opens as there are only 10 spots.