6 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself at Year’s End

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By: Martin Grunburg

“Each new day begets a new year, and each new year, a new day.”

Looks like we’ve made it through another year (almost). Yay! or #yayme.

BTW: I thought that license plate was kinda funny. However, when I lined up the shot, I got the unexpected bonus of the palms and a beautiful sunset reflection in the background.

The end of the year is a wonderful time to take inventory – to take stock of not just our good fortune (we can start by recognizing that we’re above ground, see gratitude episode), but also to assess where we are on our journey, and where it is we want to go in both the short- and long-term.

Before we start, though, if you are feeling like you have little or no momentum, lack general excitement or enthusiasm for life, or feel “stuck” (a common feeling this time of year, and one that I can remember very well), then this is the post for you.

A great way to kick start things is to ASK the right questions. After all, a few simple questions changed the course of my life. Questions are extremely powerful and (by nature) they help us to concentrate our energy and focus – to put our attention where it probably ought to be.

Here are six questions to help you assess your 2016 and jump-start the New Year! I’ve also included 3 “bonus” exercises to further your efforts to make 2017 a breakthrough year!

Question 1: Are you happy?

This ought to be a fairly easy question to answer. Are you happy? If there is not an immediate reply of “yes” coming from your gut, or you have to think about this one for a while, you may want to jump straight to questions 4 & 5 (below); you’re also encouraged to answer the following sub-question first:

1A: Who do you think is responsible for your happiness?

Question 2:  Are you healthy or as healthy as you can be?

In many ways this is similar to question #1 above; the implications of the question are meant to get you to understand and probe further. What are you doing to maintain your wellness? How healthy is your diet? Have you established an exercise routine?

Remember, a routine is just a series of habits.

Question 3: What new skills or knowledge have you learned or attempted to acquire recently?

Are you reading any books? Have you read an autobiography lately? What about personal development books? Have you enrolled in an online course to learn a new skill or to study for a new degree? Here is a great list of online learning resources. I would add takelessons.com to the list, as well.

Question 4: How are you being of service? How are you giving to those less fortunate?

Changing your perspective can be a wonderful thing. Are you volunteering for any local charity? Are you giving of your time or talents in some way that will help you to forget about yourself and your troubles? (Learn about the Law of Indirect Effort here.)

Here’s another way to phrase this: Are you working for a cause bigger than yourself, such as poverty, homelessness, mentoring or . . . (pick your favorite charity)? I’ve heard it said before, “Be sure to find a cause before one finds you.”

Question 5: How comfortable are you?

Oh no! Here we go again…comfort! There is a great paradox when it comes to comfort. The large majority of us desire security and comfort – and why not! It turns out that security is, for the most part, an illusion, and as Brian Tracy likes to say, “Comfort is the enemy of success.”

The answer becomes oscillation and moderation with a healthy tolerance for pain and pressure. The people we tend to admire are the goal-getters, and they have a propensity to lean into challenge and pain. They are swift to move outside their comfort zone. This sounds pretty cliché, right? But just because something is clichéd doesn’t mean it contains little or no value. Truly, the best way to find your limits is to push them; by doing so you end up challenging and often changing your own logic, limitations and language.

It was Muhammad Ali who said, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

In a world of constant change it’s essential to push your comfort zone, experiment and try new things. I can distinctly recall in my mid-twenties saying that I would never run. That “running is the stupidest thing I could imagine.” And, “I don’t mind running for a purpose, like a sport. But it just seems too stupid to run aimlessly for the sake of running.”

Today, I will regularly run a few miles two or three times a week. The habit was developed when I set a goal that was well outside my comfort zone, to complete an Ironman triathlon. (I’ve since completed three and all because I completed an exercise / asked questions – see below – and pushed my comfort zone.)

Question 6: Have you set a goal for yourself for 2017?

Goals thoughtfully prepared (see Why you probably don’t set goals…) will help to ignite your passion and enthusiasm, push you outside your comfort zone and, as Abraham Lincoln said, “put more life in your years.”

So, what’s the point of all this?

Good question! ; )

This is our path: In order to have a breakout and breakthrough year in 2017, we must keep challenging our status quo – to drive change rather than have change drive us. To identify where it is we want to be, what goals we want to achieve, and then work backwards and ask, “Which habits will help me get there?”

The point of all this is that HABIT (the right habits) is what lies between where you are and where you want to go. Habit is the bridge.

There are a few exercises below. One is designed to help point you toward ONE major life category for your goal-setting and at the same time help you understand and assess your overall Life Balance. The other two exercises will help you take a much broader, macro view of your life, allowing you to expand your perspective and construct the behaviors and habits you need now to reach your true “end game.”

Enjoy and happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a safe and fantastic holiday season. To bring this full circle: When it comes to creating your ideal future – your success – it isn’t so much about where you are or where you’ve been, but more importantly, where you’re heading!

#yayme.

Exercise #1: Life Balance Wheel

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Review the categories below and give each category a score from 1-10: Mind. Body. Social. Spiritual. (Core Four) | (3 subcategories) Professional. Financial. Lifestyle/Adventure

Once you’ve identified the “weakest,” most deficient category, identify one or two habits to TRACK to improve your score. For instance, if Social is at a 2 or 3, create a couple of behaviors/habits that you can track, such as: “Call a family member once a week,” or “Call two friends a week,” or, “Go to two networking events a month.”

Exercise #2:

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Create your bucket list. Identify and write out 25 things you want to experience and/or achieve before you kick the bucket! Then circle the one that is most important – the one that you would most regret not experiencing if you were to die tomorrow!

Exercise #3:

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Write your own obituary. In fact, write two versions: One as though nothing is going to change, and then one reflecting the life you are trying to achieve. You might call it your ideal obituary. Roz Savage (an amazing woman and true hero who wrote the foreword to The Habit Factor) shares her own account of completing this exercise and how it changed her life.

Thanks again for reading and sharing.

If you’ve found any of these exercises helpful and are interested in a more in-depth/extended tool (with even more great exercises) to help jumpstart your 2017 – FREE – just complete this short contact form and get the personal evaluation toolkit, 40+ pages. Again, totally FREE! Plus, you will be on the short list to receive up to 50% OFF a new, upcoming “28-Day Breakthrough Course,” a powerful program you can use on your own or can walk through in a group setting w/Live Q&A. Just click here!

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