As 2008 is nearing its end, it is a good opportunity to take time out to reflect on the year just past, remembering and considering all the things it held for us. The questions that follow are offered as a way to facilitate that reflection — and perhaps to stimulate your own thinking about questions you want to ask yourself. An article similar to this was first published in our Karuna Newsletter several years ago, and it seemed a good time to revise and repeat it as we come to the end of such an eventful year. In the previous version all the questions had a personal, psychological flavor. That is mostly true again this year, but I’ve also added a few questions related to how external world happenings may have impacted you personally. The world seems to get smaller every year. We are more aware than ever of how events and decisions on the other side of this island home can impact the air we breathe, the food we eat, the cost of gas, and our sense of security.
Some of the following questions are designed to help you recall good memories, interesting events and people. Some are just for fun. Some might put things into a different perspective for you. Some questions might trigger insights or help you learn some interesting things about yourself. And some are designed to be thought-provoking and even challenging. In the last regard, I feel compelled to add a small caution: if you find yourself feeling unduly distressed or overwhelmed by your answers to any of these questions, it might be best to put the questions aside and talk about your thoughts and feelings with a friend or family member who can give you support. If you feel you need to talk with a professional, you are welcome to contact one of the therapists here at Karuna (404) 321-4307, or you may prefer to talk with a clergy person. If you don’t have other resources, you could also contact your local county mental health center.
Mostly I hope you enjoy this process, and find it useful. I’ve been doing it for several years and I enjoy going back and seeing what was going on in my life and in myself in previous years. You may not get through all these questions in one sitting. Take you time. Notice the questions you want to skip or the ones that stop you. Hold it all in compassion – no judgments. It’s good to take time out to reflect on your life, no matter what the answers.
What was my greatest accomplishment(s) this year?
What was my biggest blunder of the year?
What gave me the greatest joy this year?
What was the biggest disappointment?
What was the best surprise?
What are the moments I wouldn’t want to have missed?
What, if anything, do I wish I had done differently?
Who was the most interesting new person in my life?
What was the most difficult thing I had to do this year?
What was the worst experience of the year?
What was the most unusual experience?
What book or movie had a big impact on me? Why?
What was my coolest new purchase of the year?
What was the biggest waste of money?
What newsworthy event(s) had the biggest impact on me personally (e.g., the presidential race, global warming, Iraqi war, Olympics, gasoline crunch, plight of refugees, green issues, etc.), and why?
Do I experience the world differently than I did a year or two ago? In what ways?
What do those differences mean for me personally? Have they or will they change how I live and the choices I make?
Who were the people who were most important to me this year?
What was the area of greatest personal growth for me?
What area(s) need the most growth/development in the future?
What am I most thankful for?
What kindness was extended to me that meant a lot to me?
What was a kindness I extended to someone else that meant a lot to me?
What do I want to invite into my life in the upcoming year? (See exercise below.)
Consider trying this exercise as an alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. Ask yourself the above question and use your answers to create a collage of some sort. It can include pictures, drawings, photographs, words – anything that represents what you want to invite into your life during the upcoming year.
What you create can then be displayed where you will see it occasionally to remind yourself what it is you really want. I once heard that given as a definition of self-discipline. I’ll make it big so you can use it in your collage if you like.
SELF-DISCIPLINE IS REMEMBERING WHAT YOU
P.S. I was supposed to have a book to go with this article, and there probably are some good ones, but the truth is some friends and I came up with this idea at a party one night and it has gone through several revisions and variations since then.