10 interesting New Year reflection questions (now is the perfect time)

Image credit: Gabriel Santiago at Unsplash.

Holidays have passed. Euphoria is gone. Many of the New Year’s resolutions probably broken by now. This is the time when we all tend to slide back to our old ways of thinking and being. Get lost in the routine…

But this is also the moment when we can make a shift. I would like to propose a simple procedure, that will shift your energy and re-direct your attention. In this post, you will find 10 interesting, reflective questions. Reflection is a powerful process because it makes us step back from our myopic, everyday doing-doing-doing. It helps us see the bigger picture and broader perspective. And it’s better to do it now before we picked up a full speed. If you haven’t done any kind of summary and reflection process related to the New Year, even better.

Many people will say that the New Year is just a date and does not have any practical meaning. Yes, but so are most of the other holidays and that is not the point. The purpose of the holidays in all cultures and traditions is to remind us of some good and important things that we tend to forget in a day-to-day rush. For instance, Thanksgiving reminds us of the purpose of gratitude. Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is a powerful reminder for everyone to apologize and forgive. Similarly, New Year reminds us that the Earth has revolved around the Sun for one more time, that we are a little bit older, a little bit smarter and have made a few more steps on our path. New Year is thus a great reminder to pause, reflect, rethink the past 365 days (OK, this time 366 days). Even a few days later, it’s not too late.

Here is the list of 10 powerful questions that will help you wrap the old year up and get ready for the new journey.

1. What will you remember 2016 for?

What were the highlights of 2016? What were the moments worth remembering? When you talk about the year 2016 in the future, what will you say? For me, the highlight of 2016 was the trip to Mt Adams, WA. (See the photo below.) My husband and I reached the summit, (33000 ft high) on August 15th and that was the highest peak we ever climbed. Super hard and a total blast. Besides, this was the year when I published my first scientific paper, became a Ph.D. candidate, Quora top writer. A lot of external successes. However, I will definitely remember this year by massive soul crisis, struggle with depression, being overworked, confused and lost, and slowly finding my way out of all that mess. That might not be a highlight, but nevertheless, something I will remember as an important milestone.

Mt Adams summit, height: 3742 m (33000 ft), Mt Rainier behind us

2. What worked great this year?

Human beings are slightly negatively biased, which helped us survived throughout many centuries. But negative bias often makes us oversee all the good things around us. New Year is a perfect moment to acknowledge what is working, what is good, what is worth preserving and fostering in the future. For me, my marriage, relationship with my parents and some new friendships definitely functioned great and provided me with a ton of support and love. Also, my Facebook accountability group of people writing 10 ideas daily brought a tremendous value into my life.

(Don’t forget, once you identify the great elements of your life, shower them with gratitude.)

3. What are you proud of?

I am really bad at being proud of myself, but I think I am not the only one. We are conditioned to run and get things done and then chase next shiny object. We rarely pause, reflect and give ourselves some credit. Now is the perfect time to do so. What are you proud of? First, yes, I am proud of a huge mountain of work that I’ve got done. But that’s not all. I am proud of all the soul work that I had to complete, facing my own demons and learning some big lessons. Also, setting the boundaries between the work and life was probably my major achievement that I am proud of.

( This is a good time to think about how you’re proud of your loved ones. How did they grow, improve and achieve their goals? Tell them how much you honor them and their successes.)

4. What was your biggest challenge?

After all the rainbows and unicorns we remembered with gratitude, it’s time to go to the dark side. What did not work last year? What was your biggest challenge? It might still be an ongoing battle. A painful issue. A tricky relationship. A limiting belief. Identify it. Be brave. Recognition is a big chunk of work. In my case, my biggest challenge was to detach my own value from my work. To understand that being more productive doesn’t mean that I am better, smarter, more worthy of my desires. I am good and worthy, no matter what. My work is just one way in which I add value to the world. It was a big and painful lesson, rooted in so many powerless beliefs and emotional issues… but that’s a whole another story. What was your biggest challenge last year?

(If you want to go deeper, try to identify what is the lesson that your biggest challenge is trying to teach you.)

5. What did you learn about yourself?

This question is one of my favorites. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship of your life. Thus invest some effort to know yourself better. For example, identify what did you learn about yourself this year? What did all the challenges, troubles, conflicts, emotions, highlights and successes teach you about yourself? Are you stronger, smarter, more creative than you gave yourself credit for? Or was your stumbling block something completely surprising? Here is my situation. The year 2015 was a lot of fighting for me so I expected that 2016 would be very relaxed. However, a number of things turned out to be stressful and challenging and forced me to do a lot of inner work. I learned that I am a total control freak, that I don’t feel at ease when I am not productive, that I am addicted to Facebook, that I find it hard to say ‘No’, that my capacity to handle suffering is really low. But I also found out that writing practice brings me a great clarity and peace of mind, that everything is so much scarier in my head and that, due to my low capacity for suffering, I seek help early and I am usually able to help myself. And this knowledge is empowering.

6. Which word describes your last year the best?

Sublime your year into the one word. For me, the word is TUNNEL. (Hopefully, I managed to get out of it.) What is yours?

7. How will you simplify your life in New year?

HERE I found a neat idea that the word “resolution” originates from a Latin expression that means “to reduce” or “to simplify”. So why do we keep adding more and more new goals, actions, habits and shit to our plates in the form of New Year resolutions? Let’s try to simplify our lives instead. Can you discard anything? Get rid of anything? Reduce? Let go? Consciously neglect? Do it. I will seriously devote myself to digital detox on weekends, deliberately be less active on social networks, kill all the writing goals, just focus on writing practice. I will work focused and rest more. I will cut on the online content consumption a lot. A lot.

8. Other than time and money, what do you want more of in New year?

Another credit to Danielle Laporte for this amazing question. Yes, we all want more time and money, but what else? When we simplify our life, we open up a space for more goodies. What exactly do you want more of? I want more connection, more deep and meaningful conversations, more uninterrupted creative time, long hours of reading, more new people, more opportunities, more ideas, more acceptance, more forgiveness, more friendship, more sense of unity with others, more devotion to things that I find meaningful, more deep work, more good rest.

9. How will you fill in your reservoir in the New year?

Our New Year resolutions usually refer to the ways in which we want to push ourselves. We want to exercise more, eat less, work more, earn more, burn more. All of these activities will deplete our energy. Thus, it’s really important to plan strategically how will you refill your energetic tank. Because you cannot endlessly withdraw without ever depositing, right? Here’s what I plan to do. Continue with my practice of transcendental meditation twice a day. Nail down my evening routine (30 minutes to 1 hour without electronics, except for Kindle.) Enjoy the quality rest without feeling guilty. Continue yoga practice. Watch stand-up comedy more. Have at least one gathering with friends per week. What are your favorite ways to energize? Plan for them in advance and use them regularly.

10. Stepping into the New year, what is calling you and seducing you? (What will you do about it?)

If you like the idea of seduction, please listen to THIS interview with Kitty Cavalier, it blew my mind. Kitty claims that the seduction can be found everywhere. For instance, if you decided to have a smoothie for breakfast, it means that smoothie has seduced you over the other types of food. Fascinating, right? This type of thinking helps us step into our intuition and inner wisdom. Instead of choosing something you “should do”, or something that “makes sense”, that “can potentially pay off” or “go viral”, tap into the seduction energy. What is seducing you? What project or idea is trying to be made through you? Relax and surrender. Right now I have completed one mini book in Serbian, which was seducing me over a long period. Now it’s time for me to find something new. I think the idea of deepening my writing and spiritual practice is definitely alluring. We’ll see…

Your turn! Answer one, or, even better all the questions in the comments below. I am looking forward to read your reflections. And remember the words of Soren Kierkegaard:

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

If you liked this post, please recommend it and follow my publication, Strangelove Letters for more similar goodies. Thank you!

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Engineer. Creator. Sustainability researcher. Obsessed w/focus, mental health, sobriety. On the quest to find gentler and more meaningful ways to live and work.

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Milena

Milena

Engineer. Creator. Sustainability researcher. Obsessed w/focus, mental health, sobriety. On the quest to find gentler and more meaningful ways to live and work.

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