I just posted 101 year-in-review questions to help you explore and learn from the 365 days of your life in the last year. I want to share some suggestions for making that exploration as positive and productive as possible.
Leave the judge behind and approach this exploration with a sense of curiosity. For most of us, there’s a danger of using what we see as fodder for self-flagellation. Instead of falling into self-criticism, be curious and keep asking yourself, “I wonder what I can learn from this. I wonder how this can help me as I move forward.
This is related to what I wrote in “be curious,” but it’s worth calling out on its own. Keep reminding yourself to be kind to yourself. If the inner critic comes up, take a deep breath and re-focus your attention on what you can learn to help you create the kind of future you want to live. Be kind. Be gentle. Being critical will only shut you down and limit the value of the exploration.
It can help to take a step back and pretend you’re examining someone else’s life (one that looks suspiciously like your own!). Giving yourself some objective distance can help you see more clearly.
It can also help to reach out to others to get their perspective. This can be good both for helping you recognize when you’re caught in an unproductive loop and for helping you see your blind spots. Plus, for some people it’s easier to explore questions in conversation than just looking at a blank sheet of paper.
You might try exploring together with family or friends who are also interested in doing their own year-in-review.
Ask follow-up questions
Unpack each of the questions you explore with follow-up questions, such as:
What can I learn from this?
- Why did this work so well?
- Why didn’t this work?
- What could I have done differently? (Remember to be compassionate as you answer this!)
- What assumptions was I making? Were they accurate?
- What are some different ways of looking at this?
- What does this teach me about how I want to do things differently in the future?
- Why? (Why did I do that? Why did this happen? Why did I respond that way? Why did I make that decision? Again, self-compassion rules!)
These are just a starting point. Come up with questions of your own. See what yields the juiciest fruit.
So there you have it. Explore and enjoy!
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