I believe life lessons that foster personal growth are all around us.

Some time ago, I spent a few days in beautiful Arizona—part business, part pleasure. While hiking with a friend to the top of Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona, I stopped to take a break and absorb the beauty of the moment.

I sat in the middle of what appeared to formerly have been an impressive and dramatic waterfall. No water remains, only streaks where water once ran over the bold, red rocks that cascade down the side of the mountain. The only sound I could hear was the wind brushing past me and my eyes were captivated with a vivid and spectacular view that I can only describe as Divine. I savored the moment with quiet meditation.

I returned from Arizona inspired to schedule more time in my life enjoying nature and places with natural beauty—a joy that has always resonated with my spirit, but not necessarily with my schedule. As I thought about what I might share with you in this column, it occurred to me that all of us can get to know ourselves better by asking ourselves questions about what we want, what is important and who is important to us.

My trip brought home the importance of beauty and nature in my life. For you, it may be something completely different, yet with a similar ability to bring peace and joy to your spirit. I would like to share with you five powerful questions for self-discovery. I believe you will find them useful in your journey to creating your ideal life—a life of fulfillment, joy and growth.
 
1. Why am I here?

This question gets to the core of your life mission. Every experience, every contact and every gift or talent that you have exists to support you in accomplishing your mission in life. If you are alive, you are here for a purpose. What will be the most important mark you make on the world?
 
2. What would I like to learn?

The most interesting people are those with a diversity of perspectives and experiences. Life is a learning journey. The more we learn, the more we grow ... and the richer and deeper our life experience. Make a list of things you'd like to learn and make plans to learn them. Be willing to try something new, something that takes you outside of your comfort zone.

3. What brings me joy?

Often it is the simple things that bring us the most joy. Make a list of the things that bring you joy, then begin incorporating those things into your life on a daily basis. Don't wait for a special occasion to purposefully make your life joyful. You deserve joy every day.

4. What am I most afraid of?

Fear can be our enemy, if we allow it to be. Fear also can be a great teacher and a catalyst for change. For example, fear that you will fail can motivate you to be creative and work hard so that you succeed. On the other hand, fear can keep you from living your highest potential if your fear paralyzes you from moving forward in your life. Once you identify your fear, you can begin determining ways to reduce the risk that your fear presents. Once you make the decision to overcome your fear, you find your fears are often more perception than reality. As a result, you fear less in your life than ever before.

5. What is one step I can take today to move closer to my ideal life?

Taking a step towards your dreams will generate excitement for the possibilities available to you. Write a vision of your ideal life and then move towards it one step at a time. Celebrate your steps along the way. Consider that following rules and tradition is not a prerequisite to success. Open your mind to creating your own opportunities—it's what I call "entrepreneurial thinking."

I hope these questions give you some fabulous "food for thought" and perhaps serve as a catalyst to move you forward in a key area of your life.

Taken from Rich Minds, Rich Rewards E-Newsletter.  Written and distributed by Inspire, Inc. © 2008 Valorie Burton. All rights reserved. Used with permission. www.valorieburton.com.

Valorie Burton, a life coach and speaker, is the author of Listen to Your Life, Rich Minds, Rich Rewards, What's Really Holding You Back?, Why Not You? and her latest, How Did I Get So Busy?.