I  always find it boring to speak about New-Year resolutions on New-Year’s Eve. Better wait one week, let the euphoria settle down and THEN… avoid it some more, because no-one likes overreaching promises that one will never hold anyway 😊

That said, here’s an activity I always love to do: the personal retrospective… there are many ways to do it, but it is very effective for personal development.

Below is mixed format between “the personal retrospective” described by Patrick Kua and a set of 100 questions that I particularly like, written by Nadalie Bardo.

The whole exercise takes at least 90-120 Minutes and is well worth the effort. But you can also do it incrementally.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Generate a timeline of events
  2. Reflect on the past year
  3. Formulate goals

Generate a timeline of events

This is a great way to get started and think back about the year. For this you only need your brain. I know, shocking! I like to start this way to see what comes to mind without any other input. Then I add input from the following:

  • Calendar(s)
  • Smartphone Pictures
  • Social-Media Posts
  • Blog posts and other services
  • Emails history
  • ...

The fact that I didn't remember those right away is also a hint to be noted.

Note1: the exact point in time when things happened is often not important. Summarizing the timeline in 12 columns, one for each month is more than enough.

Reflect on the past year

Now that I have a timeline, I can reflect on it. The list of questions below is tremendously helpful. It helps you watch your year from different angles.

You don't have to answer every question. But do not move to the next question too fast. Allow for your brain to think about it. And write down the answers.

Note2: you can do each set of 10 questions at different times.

Note3: the list is largely inspired from Nadalie Bardo’s work over at itsallyouboo.com. I did some grammar changes and reformulated most of the close-ended as open-ended questions. I also changed about 15% of the questions that I didn't like much and added a few “Tim Ferriss specials”.

Formulate goals

Now you should have a pretty good picture of how the year went. You can go through all the answers and summarize the goals that emerge. For each goal, define at least one first step to get started. Better still, make them SMART, prioritize them etc... but that's a different beast.

And finally, let me know how it went!

The questions:

A. "Essentials" questions

  1. How do you feel about last year

2. In which ways did your life change and/or remain the same in the last year?

3. List three of you "greatest hits" from last year.

4. What are you most proud of? And why?

5. What was the biggest "boss level" challenge you faced?

6. Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

7. What major life-lessons did you learn?

8. What were your "ah-ha" moments?

9. If you set goals for 2019, how did you achieve them?

10. If you didn't achieve them, why?

B. Questions about your health

11. What was your typical breakfast, lunch and dinner like?

12. How much sugar or junk-food did you consume daily?

13. What, if anything, did you try to change in your diet? What is the result?

14. Which substances did you ingest, that could qualify as drugs?

15. How often did you exercise or move your body?

16. How did you practice self-care?

17. How did you relax and rest?

18. How much "me time" or "alone time" did you spend?

19. What stressed you out the most or gave you major anxiety?

20. How did you relieve or release daily stress?

C. Questions about your emotions

21. What did you complain about the most?

22. What are you most grateful and thankful for?

23. Who or what challenged your worldview or your faith?

24. What or who triggered you?

25. What were you most afraid of happening?

26. What made you the happiest? And the saddest?

27. What is your favorite memory?

28. Which memory can’t you stop replaying in your mind?

29. What was your biggest disappointment?

30. What, if anything, worried you and kept you up at night?

D. Questions about your daily life

31. What did you want to do, but didn't?

32. When did you step outside of your comfort zone?

33. Which opportunities do you feel you missed out on?

34. What was your daily, morning or nightly routine?

35. How did you waste the most time every day?

36. What negative daily habit did you break?

37. Which new habits did you create?

38. What do you wish you could do more every day?

39. If there was one thing you could stop doing, what would that be?

40. What, if anything, feel incomplete or left undone from last year?

E. Questions about your experiences

41. Where's the best new location you visited?

42. What's the most exciting new thig you tried?

43. Which items of your bucket list did you complete?

44. What did you plan to do, but never did?

45. In what way did your tastes or interests changed this past year?

46. Which new favorite food or drink do you have?

47. What do you feel guilty about?

48. What hobby did you spend the most time on?

49. What new thing did you enjoy learning?

50. What are "the best" and "the worst" experiences?

F. Questions about your relationships

51. Who did you spend the most time with?

52. Who are the top 3-4 most influential people in your life?

53. Who was your go-to-person, the person you can always count on?

54. Who could have apologized to, but didn't?

55. Who did you have a strong influence on?

56. Which relationships fell apart, which came alive?

57. Who had a toxic or destructive influence on you?

58. How did you give back or contribute to your community?

59. How much time did you spend with your family or loved ones?

60. Who supported you and helped you grow the most?

G. Questions about your career

61. How happy are you with your job?

62. Which part of your work/learning do you enjoy?

63. Were you excited to go to work every day?

64. What changed in your day to day job?

65. What one thing would you like to change about your job?

66. How did you advance your career last year?

67. How is your relationship with your boss?

68. In what ways is your job fulfilling you?

69. Which opportunities for advancement do you have?

70. Which new professional and/or personal ventures did you start?

H. Questions about your finances

71. What was your annual income for last year?

72. How did your financial situation evolve?

73. How much of your debts, if any, did you pay off?

74. How did your long-term financial planning evolve last year?

75. What did you spend money on?

76. How much money did you invest (vs spend) in yourself?

77. What did you waste too much money on?

78. What was your best find or purchase last year?

79. What purchase of less than 100€ had the biggest impact on your life?

80. Where are you choosing the lowest-cost option without thinking about the downsides?

I. Light-hearted and fun questions

81. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you say “2019”?

82. What's the most shocking news you received?

83. What new skills did you develop or discover?

84. Did you have a favorite quote or saying?

85. What's your favorite song, movie, book and/or TV-Show from last year?

86. What was the best compliment you received?

87. What was the most painfully true critic you received?

88. How would you rank your year on a 5-Star scale?

89. What three words best describe the past year?

90. If you wrote a book about last year, what would be the title?

J. Personal questions

91. Where do you want to be one year from now?

92. What's the number one goal you want to achieve in 2020?

93. Which word sums-up your main theme for next year?

94. What's your new year's resolution or goal?

95. What are your top 3 priorities for the new year?

96. What is your personal mantra or affirmation for next year?

97. What does your perfect day or week look like?

98. What beneficial daily habits can you start in 2020?

99. How will you act towards your goal?

100. Who do you hope to become in 2020?

Photo by Chris Gilbert on Unsplash