Each year, I compile 12 questions – six to reflect on the year past and six for the year ahead. These questions can, in fact, be asked every day and/or week. But in the fast pace of work and life, we can get immersed in the "doing" nature of our lives. The end of the year marks a time to pause, reflect and get our bearings – from the year behind and for the year ahead.
You will see some new questions this year and, as always, some repeated from past years. The same question can take on a whole new meaning from year to year as your own life experiences and perspectives evolve. I encourage you to stay in the questions in the weeks ahead. See what emerges for you.
The year behind
What went well?
If you had a great year, then this question will be fun to answer. If you had a tough year, this question will be essential! Noticing the good – especially in tough times – is a crucial skill for resilience, success and well-being. Since our brains are not wired to hold on to the good (evolution has taught us to be wary), we need to make the effort to bring the good back into our focus for a more balanced perspective.
Where in your life did you experience change and disruption, and how did you deal with this?
For good, better or worse, change is a constant factor in our lives. How did you deal with your changes this year? What did you do well and where do you see need and opportunity to deal better with change?
What did 2017 teach you?
We are built with an innate capacity to learn and to grow – whether by explicit intention, or from the experiences that come our way. Often, the tough bits bring the greatest potential for learning and growth. Take stock of what 2017 taught you, and especially of how any of your challenges this past year stretched you for the better.
What needs to go?
There comes a time when we are just ready to let some things go. What do you need to say good riddance to? Tough situations? Bad habits? Out-dated approaches? Clutter? Maybe some of this served you well for a while but not any more. Time to clean out and let go to start fresh in the new year.
What made this year unique in some way?
Sometimes it feels like the years pass and they are all the same. But when we pay attention, something stands out that can define a time in our life. Think about your year: What events, situations and experiences truly defined what 2017 was all about for you?
Give your year a theme.
You may have started with a mantra or theme at the beginning of the year (especially if you have read last year's questions) but things may have taken a different turn or something else feels more salient to you. Send off 2017 with a theme by completing this phrase: 2017 was the year of ___________.
The year ahead
How will you define success in the year ahead?
Have you been defining your success based on someone else's standards and criteria? Outdated ideas of your own? Is it time to take a fresh approach and redefine your own version of success? Consider all facets of your life (career, personal, physical, mental, emotional, other). Now refine or redefine what your authentic version of success will be all about in the year ahead.
Where will you take smart risks this year?
As much as we (and our brains) love certainty, we can't always have guaranteed security and certainty in our work and lives. Where might you be instinctively holding yourself back from potential progress because of some fear of the unknown? Where might a bold move, a calculated risk or a leap of faith, potentially open more possibility for you?
How will you step into your courage this year?
Dealing with challenges and taking bold steps isn't about being fearless. It's about stepping into courage. We all have the potential to tap into courage – even if it's just for moments at a time. What situations call upon you to be courageous in the year ahead? What do you need to remember about yourself to be your most authentically brave self? Tip: Knowing your own strengths, talents and abilities can be a confidence booster. Is it time to rediscover and connect with your own super powers?
How will you connect with your super powers this year?
Are you clear on what your best talents, strengths and abilities are – and are you using them enough? What of your unique strengths and attributes need to be brought into focus more to help you step into your best game for the year ahead?
Who do you need to have more and better conversations with?
Life is fast. Our attention can be fleeting. And texting is not the only – nor always the best – way to connect. Where and with whom do you need to have more meaningful conversations? What do you need to do more of and what do you need to do less of to promote healthier conversational dynamics?
What's your intention theme for 2018?
What stands out for you as you reflect on your intentions for the year ahead? Create a mantra to hold on to this by completing this phrase: 2018 will be the year of ________.
Wishing you a meaningful holiday season and a great start to the new year.
Eileen Chadnick is principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto and author of Ease: Manage Overwhelm in Times of 'Crazy Busy.' See more at www.Bigcheesecoaching.com and follow her on Twitter (@Chadnick) and Facebook/bigcheesecoaching.com).
Executives, educators and human resources experts contribute to the ongoing Leadership Lab series.