John Maxwell says that experience is not the best teacher, rather, evaluated experience is the best teacher. And a big part of evaluated experience is evaluating what areas of our life need an adjustment. Here are four self-reflection questions to ask yourself to create a better year ahead. These first three questions, although they sound negative at first, will help give you clarity on the fourth. Because when you can identify the answers in these first three questions, you will be better able to make room in your life to enhance your answer to the fourth question.
1. Who do you need to spend less time with? This question may sound insensitive and not very people-centric; however, there are some people in our lives who we need to put boundaries around how much time we give them. Is there someone in your life who you realize, deep down inside, that takes advantage of your niceness or emotionally drains you? Is there someone in your life who is negative and pulling you down–either with their unkind words towards you or perhaps even just an overall “gloom and doom” attitude? I remember many years ago before I was married, I dated someone who complained and criticized me about the very things that I valued in myself. I later realized that he was trying to get me to change into someone who he wanted me to be. Is there someone who is nice but so self-centered that although they benefit from their time with you, you do not benefit from the relationship? Think about people like this in your life who you need to put up some boundaries and shift the amount of time you spend with them.
2. What do you need to spend less time doing? Maybe it is a time waster such as watching television, surfing the internet or scrolling through your social media pages. Or maybe it is something that is disguised as an important task or work; however when you self-reflect on it, you realize it is not a good use of your time. Time is no respecter of persons. You may have more demands than others; however, you have the same number of hours in a day as everyone else. Much of our schedule is defined by habit, so slow down long enough to track your schedule for one week and you will likely discover areas that you need to decrease the time you spend on them.
3. What is your common reason for saying no or not doing something? We all have our “go-to” reasons. Maybe it’s, “I’m too busy right now”, or “I’m tired/don’t feel like it”, or “I don’t want to go alone” or “I can’t afford it”. Sometimes we have valid reasons for saying no or not doing something. However, if after self-reflecting you realize you have the same reason over and over, this reason is actually either a roadblock in your life or an excuse. And if it’s a roadblock, meaning it really is true, then what are you going to do to address it? If it’s an excuse, then why are you giving it to miss out on the things you really want to do?
4. When you self-reflect over the past year, what were your highlights, and where is there a theme? For over a decade, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I make a list of all of my highlights for the year. It could be an award I received, a vacation I took with my husband, or something as simple as a fun evening out with friends. After I’ve made my list, I go back through those highlights and look for themes. For instance, surprisingly for me, many of my highlights are around activities with others. Once you identify themes in your highlights, you can focus on creating more of those in your future. And once you have identified the answers to the first three questions above, this will create more space for additional highlights in your life.