The new year is fast approaching, and now is a perfect time to take a few quiet moments to examine your life’s journey over the past year and look ahead to the promise of the coming year. I try to do some comprehensive journaling at this time of year, and find that self-examination is especially helpful as you look ahead. I’ve created a list of questions to help you examine the past year and plan for the new one.
I am not a great fan of setting goals for a year at a time. The reason for that is that life seems to bring changes that I can’t predict 12 months in advance. But I am a proponent of setting over-arching themes to a year and a few specific goals, such as an overall financial goal, and then revising them every three months or so. The tendency for life to throw curve balls at you is the reason that some corporations revise their budgets every quarter, to account for mid-course corrections. As an example of a curve ball I received, last December, I set myself a goal of making X dollars per month by September 2008 from my blogsite. I didn’t achieve that goal for several reasons that I couldn’t have anticipated a year ago, but I sure learned a lot from the experience! Interestingly, I did achieve the overall financial goal I set for this year, but in far different ways than I anticipated. So, I recommend you set overall goals but leave room for God to fill in the specifics of how you will achieve them. Indeed, expecting divine intervention and surprises is what makes goal setting fun and exciting!
As you prepare to answer these questions, you might go back to your calendar or journal and review your activities for each month of the year to remember what you did - memories can be fleeting.
Here are the questions - my new year’s gift to you:
- What successes did you have this year? What were your inner successes, such as a change in perspective, forgiving someone, letting go of old hurts, etc? What were your outer successes or tangible achievements?
- What were the lessons learned this year, perhaps from difficult situations? What good came from the hardships you endured? (If you are reading this, one good thing is that you survived!) From these lessons, what can you remember and apply to the coming year’s activities to make you wiser, stronger, healthier or more prosperous?
- What were some of the Kodak moments that I want to remember from this year? (Kodak moments are those times when you want to capture the picture or feeling of the experience forever.) It might be with your family, in nature, with friends. It might be an awe-inspiring experience on a busy street corner.
Looking ahead to the coming year and beyond:
- What would you like to do to improve or maintain your physical body’s health and well-being? This could include diet, exercise, medical interventions and rest.
- What steps will you take to improve or maintain your social relationships, such as those with your family? What about the quality of your friendships? Do you have at least one person with whom you can confide some of your deepest thoughts? What can you do to improve or maintain these connections?
- What is your financial goal for next year? What are the steps that you will take to achieve them?
- What are you tolerating in your daily life? In other words, are there minor irritants in your life that, once eliminated, could make your life flow more smoothly? What five tolerations could you eliminate in the coming 30 days?
- How can you advance your career this year? What steps can you take to enrich yourself or your business to take it to the next level? Are there educational opportunities that you should take advantage of?
- What can you do to improve your spiritual life? Are there some practices, such as prayer, meditation, reading or being in nature, that you could incorporate into your daily routine? How can you feed your spirit this year?
- How can you be of service to others? Can you give back to your community in a new way this year? What would make your heart sing while serving others?
- Lastly, what one big goal do you have for your life? What would make you happiest, most fulfilled, most purposeful in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years? What is your plan to achieve it?
Happy New Year!