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Ask yourself these 12 questions to put to rest last year, and look at 2014 with fresh eyes. (Dan Barnes/iStockphoto)
Ask yourself these 12 questions to put to rest last year, and look at 2014 with fresh eyes. (Dan Barnes/iStockphoto)

Reflection

Twelve questions to lead you through 2014 Add to ...

It is time for my annual tradition of sharing 12 questions to help you complete the year past and reflect on the year ahead.

For this year’s iteration of my 12 questions, I’ve kept some of the tried-and-true questions from previous years, mostly reflecting on the past year, and added new questions for the year ahead inspired from themes in my recently launched book, Ease.

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To be your best, it is imperative to have a foundation of personal awareness. Journaling is a great way to reflect in a purposeful way, to become more mindful, and to instill more awareness and intentionality in your life.

Writing it down is an essential tool to pre-empt the feeling of having too full a mind. Getting all these thoughts and ideas down in writing will help you clarify and tune into your goals and commitments for the year ahead.

The past year:

1) What went well? Identify the goals you accomplished or advanced towards, and anything else that went well and is worth acknowledging.

2) In what ways did you grow and evolve? How were you challenged, and how did you grow as a result? What new skills, knowledge and ideas have made you better or different from the beginning of the year?

3) What were your favourite moments of the past year? Savouring positive experiences gives you the opportunity to replay these moments – a proven strategy to boost your “positivity muscle” leading to more optimism, resilience and mojo.

4) What do you need to clean out or let go of from the past year to be ready to start fresh in the new year? Consider both your physical space (your office, your home) as well as your emotional mindset.

5) What and who are you most grateful for right now? Consider the people in your life; the circumstances; the gifts; make this a juicy list! Practising gratitude helps fast-track you towards greater happiness, health and well-being.

6) If there was a theme for the past year for you, what would it be? “This was the year of ____.”

The year ahead:

7) What do you want for the year ahead? What goals are you commited to? Are these goals part of a plan or just wishful thinking? Make them count, make them meaningful, and make them happen.

8) In what areas do you need to get better organized to avoid the ‘mind full’ syndrome so you can bring your best self to your goals? Consider your daily tasks as well as longer term priorities. How will you make sure you get your vast amount of ‘to do’s’ out of your head but maintain a top-of-mind awareness of key priorities? How will you manage your crazy schedule? What boundaries and structures will you put in place to manage your time more effectively?

9 ) How will you tame the multitasking beast and add more focus to your day? Science tells us that our brains aren’t built for certain kinds of multitasking. In fact, we deplete our energy and compromise our mental abilities. Our brains need time for focus and flow. Give it some and you will be rewarded with a greater sense of ease, energy and mental capability to tackle tasks more effectively.

10) What inner critics need to be acknowledged and then pushed to the back seat this year in order for you to flourish? We all have parts of ourselves that limit our greatness – if we allow them to. What voices need to be noticed and quieted this year? What empowering voices from within yourself will you listen to more intently? Your voice of trust? Wisdom? Experience? Courage?

11) How will you boost your positivity ratio? Research in the science of positivity has proven that those who practice positivity habits enjoy greater success and tend to stretch higher and reach more of their goals. They also experience greater well-being. How much positivity makes the difference? The ideal ratio is a minimum of three positive thoughts to one negative thought. Scaling back negativity is one way to achieve that and ramping up positive moments is another.

12) How will you ensure you get enough quality sleep this year? Ample sleep is imperative for our brains and bodies to operate most effectively. Lack of sleep combined with excessive stress and a poor mood is a recipe for poor performance. What will you commit to this year to get the sleep you need to flourish?

Bonus Question: If the year ahead is to have a personal theme for you, what would that be and what word or phrase best embodies this theme? “This will be the year of ____.”

This year my theme continues to be “Ease”: To live and work with greater ease. I’ll still work hard and give it my all – and then some. But I will use the tools shared in my new book, Ease, to do so with much less frazzle and struggle. How about you? What’s your theme? What’s your word for this year?

Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is a work-life and career coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. She is also the author of Ease.

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