Most of us know from experience that New Year’s resolutions and the huge, hairy goals we dream up for our lives are created with great gusto and high hopes, but all too frequently they die on the vine very soon after we’ve written them down.
Today, I’m excited to share what I’ve found to be a helpful year-end strategy of reflection — the process of reflecting back on the past year in an in-depth, careful and probing way, exploring all that you’ve learned and experienced, created, and also “failed” at. This is a very effective step to become clearer on what you really want in your life and to commit to new habits and behaviors that will pave the way for building what you long for.
This reflection process helps you connect in a powerful, juicy way with your ultimate dreams and desires, and it highlights where you’ve been living “off course” – far away from what your most authentic self really wants.
In my Finding Brave podcast today, I explore what I’ve found to be six essential reflection questions that are perfect for this time of year, to help us take stock, grow in our appreciation, and set the wheels in motion for an amazing new year and new chapter of our lives.
Here’s that episode:
To get moving on this process of reflection, I’d suggest listening to the podcast, then taking some time before the new year or immediately after to answer as deeply and thoughtfully as you can (and write down or journal your answers to) these six questions:
Reflection Question #1: Celebrating your progress
“What progress have I made this year toward my juiciest, most thrilling goals and visions that I want to make sure to celebrate and appreciate?”
As you answer this question, it’s important to understand a few aspects of the inner workings of celebrating your progress:
Acknowledging your growth
First, we humans often fail to acknowledge what we’ve done and achieved, for a number of key reasons. When things come very easy to us, we don’t to recognize the natural talents involved in making this achievement possible. So we undervalue the accomplishment, feeling like it’s nothing important or valuable, or that anyone can do it.
Secondly, many people (particular women) are perfectionistic overfunctioners – constantly doing more than is healthy, appropriate, and necessary, and desperately try to get an A+ in all of it. This is an exhausting and disempowering way to live, as the process of trying to reach an impossibly high bar means you’ll never allow yourself to get there.
Celebrating all the wins – from tiny to huge
All steps towards growth are worthy of being appreciated and recognized, not just the huge things. It’s so important to your self-esteem and confidence to appreciate the things that come easily to you that have made a difference in your life and the lives of others, as well as those actions that were “hard” and required a great stretch beyond your comfort zone.
Reflection Question #2: Lessons
“What are the top lessons of this year, and how have they impacted how I think, speak and engage going forward?”
Think about the biggest learnings that have come to you from what’s transpired this year – what you gained from the hard knocks, from the accomplishments and wins, from the challenges and heartbreak in your relationships, to the beautiful moments that took your breathe away, and more.
It’s important to remember that failure isn’t negative in and of itself. When we fail or fall down, it’s not meaningless or wasted if we can learn something powerful and helpful that will support us to continue to grow.
Reflection Question #3: Highest goals
“What are my three highest goals for next year, for myself personally and for my business?”
To help you explore this question fully, here are other ways to think about it:
- What are the outcomes that you most want to create?
- Where can you turn your “mess into a message” to help others thrive and bypass the specific challenges you’ve faced?
- Rather than agonizing about the specific “how’s” and steps towards getting where you want to go, focus on the feeling you’ll have when you create, achieve, or “live into” something that calls to you. Just dimensionalize those feelings, thoughts and sensations of that and see with your minds’ eye what will be different once you become that exciting new version of yourself.
- Then ask your higher self to help you identify and say “yes!” to all the doors that will open for you as you move forward in your life towards that juicy goal.
Reflection Question #4: Finding Brave
“In what new ways can I “find brave” next year that will help me grow, learn and stretch beyond my comfort zone?”
Take a look at where you don’t feel brave today in your life, and where you’ve remained locked in your “comfort” zone when in fact, it’s not comfortable at all.
Where can you stretch beyond that next year? What project, cause, volunteer effort, hobby, or other endeavor can you engage in that will help you feel more alive and more connected to your creative and other talents and gifts? Remember that you don’t have to chuck out your current career in order to bring more meaning and purpose in your life today.
Reflection Question #5: New Habits
“What new habits do I want to commit to, to build a healthier, happier, more balanced approach to my work and life?”
I’ve seen in working with thousands of people that when we try to incorporate an important new behavior that stretches us, there’s almost always some degree of resistance to it that’s challenging. And that resistance simply won’t go away unless and until you develop and commit to a new, constructive habit that supports this behavior.
What habit, with some form of ongoing accountability and structure that fits your style, can you build that will help you to get where you want to go?
Reflection Question #6: Closing Your Power Gaps
“What “power gaps” do I need to close, in order to be able to reach those goals I’m most excited about?”
My current work is focused heavily on helping professionals close the 7 damaging power gaps that keep them from thriving in life and work.
Here’s a quick look at the 7 power gaps:
A beneficial step for your life is to identify where you have one or more power gaps, and take just one brave, bold step to address your most oppressive gap.
When you get (and stay) on the path to becoming more powerful in how you operate in the world, and use that new power and authority for good – for the benefit of yourself and others – your life with change and improve dramatically.
I hope these 6 reflection questions move your forward to doing what it takes to build a thrilling New Year that matches what your hearts and soul desires.
Happy New Year to you!