10 Awesome Questions to Launch the Next Decade
Each year, I use 10 awesome questions to guide my goals and intentions for the next year. As this year also ushers in a new decade, the process is shifted to help you see the longer view.
Reflection is an important part of how we rise to our potential. Taking time to review and reflect allows us to see things from a fresh perspective as well as gain valuable insights from our successes and challenges. Our ability to grow and change is sourced in the act of taking stock.
We see the benefits of reflection in everything from the annual performance review process and the most effective leadership development models to the core competencies of emotional intelligence and the benefits of mindfulness on our health and wellbeing.
Every wisdom tradition around the world has a process of reflection and it’s no accident that this time of year finds people of all backgrounds engaging in a time of review. The winter equinox signals a change in seasons as we start gaining more light each day, and as we end one year and turn our sights to the next, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect with intention. The turn of the decade deepens this process further.
First, you want to do a quick review of the past year. Sine we’re turning decades you might even look back further. Take a spin through your calendar and photos to refresh your memory (but put a time limit since it’s easy to get distracted). If you journal, flip through the pages and notice the major themes. You might also want to on music, brew a hot beverage, light the fireplace, and allow yourself quiet time to reflect.
Below are 10 questions arranged in a specific order to help you have new insights. Let yourself blend together professional and personal reflection—they are not separate pieces but part of the integrated, whole person that you are.
10 Awesome Questions to Reflect on 2019
- What are your 9 greatest successes and miracles of 2019? It’s OK to have more but get at least 9.
- What was a key challenge of this year and what did you discover about yourself in meeting this challenge? What new skills, knowledge, or insights did you receive as a result of this challenge?
- What are some of the most joyful moments of 2019?
- What “risks” (taking action though fear is present) did you take this year and what greater freedom did you discover in the process? What did you learn about yourself in taking these risks?
- In what key ways have you been of service this year? What meaningful purpose have you contributed to through sharing your time, or your talent, or your resources?
- What has been the underlying, unifying theme of your year? "2019 has been the year of…"
- Looking back on this decade (since 2000), what 3 people had the greatest impact in your life (could be positive or negative)? What has their presence stimulated or awakened in you?
- Is there anyone whom you need to forgive? Forgive means to release judgment and blame that is causing you unnecessary pain. Who is it? What quality do you need to forgive them for? Can you find that same quality within yourself (to any degree) and love yourself anyway?
- What are your greatest blessings of the 2000s? List those people, experiences, and insights that fill your heart with gratitude.
- What are 3 key lessons you’ve learned through your experiences since 2000?
Looking Ahead to 2020 & Beyond
- As you look at the lessons and insights of 2019 and the past decade, what wise counsel would you give yourself as you move into 2020 and this new decade?
- Now, articulate your goals and intentions for 2020 and beyond. Consider having at least one for each these areas so that you have work/life balance: career/calling, relationships, health/wellbeing, happiness, creativity/play, and community. Also explore what things gave you energy and what drained it—try to dial up the energy boosters. I write my goals/intentions in my journal, and post them in various places where they will remind me of my focus like my home, car, office, smartphone, etc.
- Is there anyone you need to reach out to as a result of this reflection? You might be moved to send a note of gratitude or appreciation. Keep it simple—often a quick email or voice message can really make someone feel great and you will enjoy acknowledging them too.
That’s it. This process takes less than an hour but it’s one of the best hours you can spend each year. Start this ritual alone but then gather with friends to share your insights and intentions. This can connect you, not only this one evening, but throughout the year. You can even build in a quarterly check-in to continue to support each other, address any roadblocks and celebrate successes! You can also do this process at work with leaders and teams—it's amazing what comes out of those discussions and how much it boosts everyone’s energy and engagement at work.
If you wish, make a vision board and/or playlist to anchor your intentions. Both are surprisingly powerful tools that can support you in staying focused throughout the year, and are often more fun to make than a traditional list. Make a playlist of songs that represent who and how you want to be in 2020. A vision board is essentially a poster of images and words that can be made with old magazines and glue or put together using your computer. Use a presentation or graphics software, adding images and words or phrases. Print it out and post it at home and at work to keep your eyes on what you prize.
Reflection is one of the most powerful processes for achieving your potential. And when you do it in community with others, it creates a sense of engagement and accountability that helps everyone achieve more than they could alone.
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