Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017!
Coming off of the tumultuous 2016, I anticipate that many of you, like me, are spending these first January days contemplating hopes for the new year. In customary resolution fashion, we might think about the number of pounds to lose or the novel we want to write or the instrument we’ve always wanted to learn to play. These are all good thoughts, but we know resolutions can be empty words, as proven every February at the YMCA. When resolutions lack resolve, what’s the point?
Over the last few weeks, three things happened that made me rethink our normal approach to resolutions. The first involved prepping for an end-of-year meeting with my design partner. He had assembled a long list of questions to help recap our work in 2016 and plan for 2017. The questions took me by surprise; they were way harder to answer than expected, but this was great. He asked things like, “What did I learn about myself through our 2016 efforts?” and “If I had one word for 2016, it would be…”
The second was developing a similar list of queries for a 2017 strategy meeting for another client, asking questions including “What data are fascinating?” and “What will be the most fun projects for 2017?” Developing these questions meant that I needed to focus on not only what we wanted to do in the upcoming year, but why.
Following suit with this questions theme, the other day I listened to one of Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative podcasts in which he asks the following:
- What do I want to experience? (And how do I want to feel?)
- What do I want to learn? (What areas of curiosity do I want to pursue?)
- Where do I want to go? (Places to travel!)
- How do I want to change? (What do I want to be different by the end of the year?)
In all three instances, I appreciated the questions because they probe the emotional reasons lurking behind WHY we want to resolve to do X,Y, or Z. They also create boundaries to help our goal-making more intentional and systematic. This might not sound like a lot of fun, but when the choice is to say, “Losing weight would be nice,” verses “I want to improve my health so that I have more energy for work and play,” the latter intentional approach creates a powerful, tangible ‘so that’ that can motivate us beyond the first few weeks of January.
In this spirit, here are a list of questions I hope can help you effectively reflect on 2016 and plan intentionally for a thriving 2017. Enjoy!
- What went well for you in 2016? What do those things have in common?
- What are the top three things that bugged you about your work and play in 2016? Why do they continue to bother you?
- What took up the most time in 2016? Do you want this to change, or stay the same, and why?
- What did you learn about yourself in 2016? Answer for each: emotionally, spiritually, physically, professionally, relationally.
- What top five experiences do you want to have in 2017? What has inhibited you from doing them before? What are the intermediate steps to attaining those experiences?
- What top three things do I want to learn in 2017? Who, or which resources, can help me learn those things?