Ask these at the end of every day, week, month, or year.
The end of one season and the beginning of another brings a lot of mixed feelings. Whether it’s a new year or even just a new month, change can be an emotional roller coaster.
Sometimes there’s sorrow for leaving the previous season; other times we’re glad it’s finally over. Sometimes there’s hopeful anticipation of what’s coming next; other times there’s only dread.
Most of the time, we handle change by just coping and pushing through. But there are a lot of missed opportunities there.
Growth doesn’t happen from getting older, having more experience, or changing environments. We can stay the same or regress over the years. Growth and positive change come from recognizing our past, learning the lessons, and making adjustments on our path into the future.
That requires setting aside time to reflect on your past. Reflection requires more than just recalling events, it requires identifying your experiences, perspectives and feelings about those events. Reflect on the past not to dwell on it, but to use it to propel you into the future.
As we transition from 2019 into 2020, take some time to go through these personal reflection questions. They’ll help you identify the high points and low points of different areas of your life, along with nuances on how you perceived those experience and what you can learn from them.
A quick note – as to not be redundant, the default follow-up question for each of these is “Why?” or “How?”
Emotional & Mental Health Questions
As you think through these, recall the environments and triggers of these feelings.
1) When did I experience the most joy?
2) When did I experience the most depression?
3) When was I angry, frustrated, or stressed?
4) When was I at peace, satisfied, or content?
5) When did my emotions fluctuate the most, and when were they most consistent?
Physical Health Questions
Factor in your exercise, nutrition, and other life situations that may affect your health.
6) When did I feel the most alert and energetic?
7) When did I feel the most tired, or in discomfort or pain?
8) Which activities contributed to or degraded physical health?
Habits & Interests Questions
These can be minor hobbies to major passions.
9) What habits or interests did I enjoy or were most beneficial?
10) What habits or interests were not enjoyable or not beneficial?
11) What is something I’ve thought about doing, but never pursued?
Consider relationships in all your different spheres, from home to social to work.
12) Which relationships have been the most fulfilling?
13) Which relationships have been the most draining?
14) When did I feel most connected or most alone in relationships?
These questions can be applied to your primary job, a side hustle or freelance gig, volunteer work, or even a mini project that you worked on.
15) What projects or tasks am I most proud of?
16) In what areas did I fail or perform below expectations?
17) Was I satisfied with the level of work, challenge, opportunity, responsibility and reward of my current position?
18) Did what I do have a sense of meaning or purpose in what I did?
19) Overall, what areas did I grow the most in?
20) Overall, what areas could I improve the most in?
These questions aren’t for just once a year. Throughout this next year, set aside time to reflect daily, weekly, or monthly. It’s a good exercise to process what’s going on in your life.
It’s better if you have a friend, family member, or partner to go through these with. My wife and I try to ask each other some of these questions every Sunday to process our weeks.
You don’t have to go through all these questions each time either – just pick a handful that are most meaningful for you to reflect on.
You’ll notice that all of these questions are reflection-oriented rather than action-oriented. In my next article, I’ll share questions that can be used to help determine your next steps.