Ten Questions Really Worth Asking: Your End of Year Reflection

Looking Back so you can Look Ahead
For many years I have done an "end of the year reflection." I look back over the year, remember what happened, reflect on those things and then seek to discern meaning, purpose and lessons learned. Then, I look ahead to the new year and I make plans for the new year. These are not simply resolutions, although my RESOLVE is high. These are things I desire, things I deem important and valuable. Therefore, these resolutions are framed as goals and desired outcomes.

Like all goals, a mindset is needed to get there. As many of you know, I have developed and carefully implement The Four Mindsets as a way of Life and Leadership. The year end reflection - year beginning planning emerges as a practical method, from those mindsets. If you are familiar with the Four Mindsets, scroll down past these brief notes to the Reflection Suggestions that are the Second Half of this post.

1.  Profoundly Self-Aware:

  • What hapened, why did it happen, what did it mean, what did I learn? 
  • Did I accomplish what I desired? If not - why?
  • What does God have for me? What has he put on my heart? What are the critical growth paths for my life and ministry with God?
  • This is reflection that goes on all throughout the year. At the Year's End, it become even more important.

2.  Highly Intentional:

  • I must choose to do this reflection and then I must determine (by God's good grace) that I will do something worthwhile after this reflection.
  • The will is a dynamic energy in your life. It is a tool.
  • To will is to desire AND to choose.
  • High intentionality is to be committed, focused, energized on the move and in action.

3.  Wisely Strategic:

  • Here is where the careful planning comes in. Dreams, Visions, Desires, Longings, Goals - as inspiring as they may be - they are only potential until I have a plan that brings them into being. 
  • What's my plan?
  • Is it a good, well thought plan?
  • And am I executing the plan?

4.  Deeply Surrendered:

  • It always costs you something. There are always challenge, difficulties, sacrifices, hard choices, wrestling with God, above all - wanting EVERYTHING you desire and plan to be HIS WILL. 
  • Am I willing to do what God is asking of me?

The Questions I Used for My Year End Reflection.
I do this a little differently every year. Some years I simply used the Daily Examen prayer guide of Ignatius of Loyola and applied it to the entire year. This year I was inspired by an Internet Image that provided several questions. To that, I added several more questions that came out of a leadership book I read on the subject of time and priority management. That book was bestseller - Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy. (By the way a Shout Out of Thanks to my friend George who gave me a copy of this book. What a Great Gift that was.)

These questions are only suggestions. Use any or all of them. Come up with your own. The important thing is to have some good guides and then reflect and make some determinations as to what 2014 will involve.

By the way, here is a PDF with the Ten Questions. Worth printing out and using.


1.  Ten Highlights:
These are the accomplishments, achievements, best moments, the Yea God events.

2.  Three Things You Focused On:
These are the most important things where you devoted your strength and energy. This is a VITAL reflection since each of us is called to do a few main things. These frew things are the CORE of our life and work. What results did you get form these areas of focus?

3.  Ten Disappointments:
These are the failures, the shortcomings, the missed opportunities, the "didn't turn out at all like I wanted" things of 2013. This is what you would like to do differently. These are the regrets. Now, you won't live there, but you do want to be wisely informed about these things. And, if there is any spiritual conversation with God needed - take the time for that. Make sure these things will not weigh you down or hold you back.

4.  Three Unexpected Events:
This is what happened that changed your focus and priorities. This is what called for realignment and reordering of your schedule. They may be powerful and positive or frustrating. 

5.  Three Things I Neglected:
Very simple. What didn't you do that you SHOULD HAVE DONE? What did you avoid, ignore and simply neglect. Now perhaps it was not a total neglect... but still, these three things NEEDED some of your best attention, time and energy and you DIDN'T DO IT. (1) Why did you neglect those things? (2) What happened as a result of your neglect? (3) What are you going to do in the New Year? Remember - It is the areas of neglect that create are Deepest Regrets as time goes on. Whether it is your health, an important relationship, a developmental opportunity... pay attention to this. (The old barn is an image of what happens to the things we Neglect.)

6.  Three Questions I Need Answered: 
Problems, confusion, lack of answers, insight, information. And things of interest and curiosity. Questions are Powerful. In one sense, much of my life, ministry and leadership was been devoted to and has emerged out of my pursuit of necessary answers to Vital Questions. What are your most important questions? What are you oging to do search for answers?

7.  Three Areas of Learning & Growth:
I am relentlessly developmental of myself and others. Learning and growing is not a chore or burden. It is a joy and privilege. So - where do you want to grow? What needs to develop in your life? What are you interested in learning more about? Think about it this way: For your work - what is one area of personal development - that if you learned a lot about this area, your productivity would really improve at work... and so would you satisfaction? Now, you also need a learning plan. I'll blog about that in January.

8.  What's My Frog?
Just pick ONE Frog. A frog is the thing you dread, the thing you avoid, the thing that just does not interest you. In fact, it may scare you. You may be afraid of it. Here is the problem. That FROG is vital for your life and work. As soon as I sat down, I knew what my FROG was... and I knew what severe limitations it produced in my life. I also knew that if I don't do anything about that frog - those limitations will remain, doors will stay closed, and I will not move into the abundant life God has for me. Even knowing that - it will not be easy to deal with the FROG in my life.

9. The Three Things.
For all of us, there are some things that ONLY you can do. Or if others can do it, still, you are MAINLY responsible for those things and you are the one who can do those things BETTER than most others around you. Here I am talking about your Main Responsibilities in life and work. What has been entrusted to you, that if you don't take care of it - it is just not going to get done? What has been given to you - it is Your Responsibility and if you do it well - Great Things Will Come About? How much energy and time will you give to those three things in 2014. This is a wonderfully clarifying exercise.

10. Ten Sigs of Success.
And the last one - what are ten things, that if each one happens in 2014 - it is a great success. Fruitfulness is emerging and it "tastes good." If most of these things happen in 2014 - it will be a great year? These are the goals and objectives, the desired outcomes that are worth working for and toward. When they happen - this is cause for CELEBRATION. You, your family, your friends, your team and even High Heaven.

That's it.
These are my areas of reflection. I have been doing a little bit on these for the last week or so. I have pages in my journal where I jot down thoughts. It is a growing, evolving reflection. I spent about an hour doing an initial Get Started Reflection. I had no intention of completing the reflection, just to get it started. Then, every day after that I have been adding things. Although - Item #6 about the Questions - that is currently a Blank Page. I have nothing on that one yet.

This is only a list. Only suggestions. Only a model. Make it your own. Use what is helpful, ignore what doesn't generate interest. Follow other ideas you may have.

The month of January is going to have a lot of practical suggestions to help you prioritize and "manage" your life, work, leadership, obligations, responsibilities - all that has been entrusted to you. it is going to be a great month to start this New Year.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

LCI - Here to Help You Experience the Abundant Life of Love, Work and Leadership God Has For You