16 Questions to Ask Yourself in 2016

As an adolescent, I had an esoteric New Year’s Eve tradition. Before settling in to watch the Times Square ball drop on television with my parents, I would pour myself a hot bath and soak, thinking back on the past year. I would take stock of what was going well and what was going not so well in my young life, including how I was doing in school, the state of my friendships, and what I wanted for myself.

And while the bath was really just a nice way to warm up in the New England wintertime, what I really enjoyed about this ritual was carving out time for myself to reflect—to feel gratitude and to challenge myself on where I wanted to go next.  

When we mark the passage of time, either on a birthday or with the passage of a new year, we have an opportunity to reflect on the state of our lives. How are we doing? Are we working towards the right goals? What are we taking for granted in our lives?

Asking big questions like these can be intimidating, especially if we’ve been plugging along our day-to-day routine without much self-assessment. But taking time to reflect can have tremendous benefits. First, and most obvious, if we’re not living the life we want, we have to first see and understand that fact in order to change it. The self-awareness that we’ve been missing opportunities or mucking up relationships can be the kick of motivation that many of us need to do something differently.

And when we take our self-reflection seriously in the form of writing or journaling, we get a ton of added benefits. Psychologist James Pennebaker has researched the effects of expressive writing—in which people journal about negative or traumatic experiences and the meaning of them—and found that it can boost immune functioning, decrease stress, enhance positive emotion, and improve the quality of relationships.

As you embark upon a new year, carve out 20 to 30 minutes for yourself to reflect. The 16 questions below can serve as a starting point for you. Pick one or two of them and give yourself time to dwell on them. If it feels appropriate for you, pull out a journal (writing by hand is better than typing), and sketch out your responses. And whether or not you add a hot bath, make this reflection a ritual for yourself to ensure that your personal growth and development is on the course you hope for. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

  1. What are you most grateful for in the past year?
  2. What event did you enjoy the most? What, in particular, was enjoyable about it?
  3. What were you most proud of over the past 12 months?
  4. Who went out of their way to be kind to you last year? What did that kindness mean to you?
  5. What did you learn in 2015?
  6. What was your favorite day? With whom did you spend it and what did you do?
  7. What’s the best moment you experience in your typical daily routine? How can you enhance this moment?
  1. What challenges did you overcome last year? How did you do it?
  2. Reflecting on yourself over the past year, in what area do you want to grow personally? How will you do it?
  3. Name three people who exemplify a character trait you aspire to. What do you they do that you can incorporate into your life?
  4. Who in your life would benefit from more support from you? How might you give it?
  5. What personal strengths did you exhibit most over the past year?
  6. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What do you need to make that happen?
  7. With whom would you like to have a closer relationship? What steps will you take to strengthen your connection with this person?
  8. What does your ideal life look like one year from today? What’s different? What’s the same?
  9. What do you value most in life? In what ways are you honoring or not honoring these core values?

Continue Reading