I’m a big fan of questions; to inquire, challenge, and inspire. Questions provide the fuel for reflection and the impetus for action. (Tweet That) And in this unique time of year where people are more willing to look back and look forward, these questions become especially powerful.
Today I share six questions with you – three that look back, and three that look forward – all designed to help you put action to the good intentions you likely have this time of the year. Grab a pen and a piece of paper (or your journal), or open a new document on your device. Ask yourself the questions, and start writing down your answers. Give yourself some time, because these questions are worthy of your consideration.
What Did I Accomplish?
It is always useful to look back and consider your accomplishments. Think about what you are proud of over the past year. Then lower the bar just a bit more – what else did you accomplish; even if not quite at the level you had hoped for. In other words, consider the accomplishment list in your eyes, and in the eyes of a third party who might remind you of things you overlooked.
When you review the list, you might have a variety of feelings. You might have immense pride about some items or even the full list. You might feel disappointment, as the list isn’t what you had hoped it would be. Whatever your feelings, notice them and then reflect on whether that is the feeling you want associated with your list at this time next year.
What Did I Learn?
There will likely be learning from the accomplishments, but I’m guessing when you
reflect on this question, you will find there is much more you learned. Like the last question, don’t put a limit on this list. There may be things you previously knew, but had forgotten (or weren’t doing or using), that now you are applying. If so, put it on this list. This list isn’t just about brand new learning, but also re-learning that is having an impact on your life and results.
What Held Me Back?
Chances are you didn’t reach all your goals or accomplish everything you had hoped for in the past twelve months. This question lets you reflect on what dampened your results. This list could contain things you did or didn’t do, thoughts, habits or any number of things. Time spent identifying this list will be invaluable as you begin to look forward.
What are My Final Four?
Your Final Four are your biggest goals for the New Year. What are the four most important things you want to accomplish? I recently wrote about the process of identifying your four biggest goals for the year (or any time period), and even provided a tool for documenting and being reminded of that Final Four.
Here are the details – What Are Your Final Four?
What Habit Change Will Aid Me Most?
You won’t get to your goals and aspirations in the coming year if you don’t change anything. Chances are there is one habit that you could alter, or replace that could have a significant impact on your results. This question challenges you to think about what that might be.
Hopefully the answer will challenge you to implement that change, starting today.
What is My Focus Word?
I am a big believer in having a word that keeps me mindful of my highest and best use of time in the year ahead. Asking this question, and making that decision after asking and answering the previous five questions will help crystallize all of into your focus word.
Ask yourself: What word will move you and remind you of the feeling you have now? What word will help you create as much of the New Year as you have just described? What word will help you focus on how to best create the year you want to create?
There are no perfect words here; just start writing words down as they come to you. At the end of the ten minutes, pick the one that is calling to you. You will want to “try this word on” and live with it for a day or so. Chances are if it doesn’t quite fit, you will identify a new, better word (whether from your original list or not) within a couple days. Just make sure that soon you do pick your focus word for the year.
There is a great book that expands on this idea and process. You can read my review of it here.
Note: You could be reading this at any time of year, and these questions will be just as powerful. You can set the time and timeline, then just start asking, start answering, and start taking action on those answers!