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The end of the year is a natural time to reflect. Was it just another year? Nah – every year is distinct with its own challenges and rewards. As the return-to-work era unfolded, some challenges disappeared while new ones emerged.

This tradition of asking questions, which I’ve used for the past 11 years, helps bring perspective on a year that swooshes by. There are new questions and some repeats as well. Because each year is different, every question – old or new – invites a fresh perspective.

The year behind…

1. What went well?

A core question asked every year. Don’t rush. Take time with this one, especially if you’ve had a tough year. Our brains tend to forget the positive and hold tightly to the negative. When you bring to light the good of the past year, you may notice a positive energy shift. Perhaps a different perspective on your year? The next questions will amplify this further.

2. Where was the good in the bad?

Now you can spill the beans and vent on the tough stuff. Let it rip. Then step back and ask: What was good in the bad?

Maybe not every bad thing has a silver lining or a grand purpose. But many tough situations do embed some positive rewards. Opportunities for learning and growth? An enhanced appreciation for something or someone? I had a “bad thing” happen this summer when I broke my wrist in a clumsy pickleball moment. Despite the bad, I fully took in all the good that came with this tough situation. For instance, I was grateful for the exceptional and expedient care despite our health care woes. And for an abundance of support from so many people, including unexpected sources. I also discovered new depths of my own resilience and resourcefulness – and I even surpassed many healing milestones that were initially thought to be out of reach. It helped me heal more quickly and I’m grateful for all of it.

3. What bolstered your resilience this year?

These past years have challenged our nervous systems, individually and collectively. More than ever we need resiliency skills. How did you keep your energy and “mojo” tank fuelled up? What worked well for you?

4. What positive surprises did the year bring to you?

We don’t always know what is around the corner. It is not always bad. Think of something positive that came unexpectedly for you this past year. Use this as a reminder that good can come even when we can’t see or anticipate it. It can be helpful to remember this in tough times.

5. Whose lives (work and personal) did you positively affect this year?

I bet you were generous in more ways than you realize. As a leader or contributor at work? A difference-maker in your community? A loving family member and/or friend? A generous supporter of people in need whom you’ve never met? We often forget the positive impacts we have on others. Remembering this can spark a good feeling and fuel us forward for even more generosity in the year ahead.

6. Give your year past a personal theme. Complete this sentence: “2022 was the year of _______”

The year ahead…

7. What would make 2023 a good (or great) year for you?

World peace or solving the inflation crisis aside, consider various aspects of your life. Career? Personal wellbeing? Family? Social? Other? What surfaces as high priorities that you can have agency to act on?

Perhaps create some meaningful goals from this? Forget resolutions, but good, thoughtful goals can be fuelling and give more meaning to our lives.

8. With the pace of today’s hustle culture, how will you create ease and balance?

Tired from the go-go-go busyness of work and life? The merry go-round won’t stop. So you will have to find ways to get off now and again to replenish, restore and refuel your energy. What can you do? Even tiny commitments and strategies can have an impact and help you mitigate feeling overwhelmed and the fatigue that comes with the relentless “crazy busy” pace of work and life.

9. How will you more meaningfully connect with others?

Connection has been severely challenged these past years with the work-from-home and hybrid models. Staying home offers safety and convenience but there are costs. How can you more intentionally create more connection at work? Elsewhere? What do you need to let go of to connect more authentically, frequently, and meaningfully?

10. Where and with whom will you be more generous this year?

While financial giving is one outlet for generosity there are other ways to give. Where can you be more generous with your time, attention and even your assumptions of others? Who can you lift up? And leaders – how about giving more appreciative feedback to others.

11. How will you be more compassionate and generous with yourself?

Are you generous with others, but hard on yourself? Where can you soften your self talk? Right-size your impossible high standards? Will this be the year to tame your inner critics and tune in to your voice of self trust?

12. Give yourself a personal mantra or a theme for the year ahead. Complete this sentence: For me, 2023 will be the year of ___________

Eileen Chadnick PCC, of Big Cheese Coaching, works with leaders (emerging to experienced), and organizations, on navigating, leading and flourishing in times of flux, opportunity and challenge. She is the author of Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy.

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