I know I’m not alone in my need to make a New Year’s resolution but then, I quickly become concerned I won’t follow through. The last thing anyone wants is to feel like a failure. Am I right? Yet, don’t we all love the idea of continual evolution and discovering new ways to live a fulfilled life? New Year’s prompts us to think about who we truly are and what we want in life. Intellectually, we all know it’s just another day on the calendar but it feels like a whole new beginning. A chance to start again. YES! Renewal and redemption at the same time.
Over the years, I’ve modified my approach to hitting the “reset” button. Rather than set some unattainable goal, I instead reflect on both the good and not so good of the past year to see what I can learn about myself and then modify in the year ahead. It's not about changing something about myself to be "better" but getting closer to honoring my most authentic self as often as possible.
Which is why I came up with some questions to help guide me (and hopefully you too). Let me introduce you to my Questions That Make Me Say "Aha”. They nearly always provide me a few breakthroughs in creating more clarity and focus on what I want more or less of in the upcoming year, what's most important, and how to get closer to the real me.
Give it a shot yourself. Take 30 minutes to write down your answers. Don’t think about them for too long. Go with your first reaction or gut instinct.
- What was the most exciting thing you did in the past year? Who was there with you? What were you doing? How did it make you feel, physically and emotionally? What was important about it?
- What was the most disappointing thing that happened at work this year that was within your control? If you could go back in time and change anything about it, what would that be? Look for ways in which your natural gifts and talents aren’t being leveraged or your values aren’t being honored.
- What was one thing you started or did differently this past year that pleasantly surprised or delighted you? What about it made it so delightful? Did it tap into a natural talent or something that you deeply value? Did it unleash another side of you that you don’t normally tap into?
- What did you stop doing that made a positive impact in your life? How did this affect your personal growth? Are there other things you should consider stopping in order to promote more growth and fulfillment?
- Which negative thoughts did you give way too much airtime? You know…the angry thoughts that brought you down, pissed you off, and generally took up too much of your time thinking about? What made you so mad or upset? What can you do about it now or in the future to reduce the negativity or get rid of it altogether?
- Thing about times when you were 100% authentically yourself. These are times when you didn’t care what anyone thought of you. You spoke and acted in a way that was completely genuine and truthful. What were you doing? What was the impact of this on yourself and others?
- What was the #1 thing that you were really hard on yourself about this past year? Chances are that you have an inner critic telling you how to be better, smarter, faster, thinner, more successful, etc. Your inner critic never thinks you’re good enough! Tell him/her that you appreciate the insight but to go take a hike. Instead, what if you turned those thoughts around in the exact opposite direction? Try it.
- If you could sum up your past year in one sentence, what would it say? No negative thoughts here. What was a positive theme of the year?
- What is one thing that worked well that you’d like to continue doing in the upcoming year? How can you expand it and take it to the next level?
- Did you make more, the same, or less money than last year? What effect did this have on your life? What effect did it have on your happiness and fulfillment? What can you learn from this and apply to next year?
What “aha” breakthroughs did you have after answering these questions? Did any get you fired up and make you feel more alive? Did it inspire you to move in a new direction? Leave a comment below with any realizations you had. You may end up inspiring others!