Year-in-Review Question: Would I be happy with 10 more years of this?


One of the things that frequently keeps us stuck in what doesn’t work is an overly narrow view of what we’re experiencing.

Let’s say you’re unhappy with your work. You know you need to make a change, but the idea of actually taking action on that kicks up a bucketload o’ fear and discomfort.

And when that fear comes up you automatically put it on a scale. Maybe consciously, maybe unconsciously. “Which of these feels more painful? The job I dislike, or the fear and uncertainty of making a change?”

All too often the fear ends up feeling heavier, and so nothing changes.

Make sure you’re making the right comparison

Frequently, the trouble is that you’re not comparing the right things. You take a look at the knot of fear that grips your stomach when you think about making a change, and compare it to the low-grade irritation you feel spending another day at work. Guess which one feels more intense?

But that’s not an accurate comparison. Unless you’re so excruciatingly unhappy that you’re not even sure you can say, “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” the discomfort you feel any given day at work is never likely to weigh more than the fear of the unknown and potential for failure.

But think about what not making a change really means. It means you’re committing not only to another day slogging through the irritation of an ill-fitting job, but also to the cumulative effect, year after year, of a job that chafes.

So to make an accurate comparison on that scale, you need to keep adding day after day of not being happy at work, year in and year out. It doesn’t take too long for that to get pretty danged heavy.

10 more years?

With all that in mind, a great year-in-review question is, “Would I be happy with ten more years of this?” If the answer is yes, great! If the answer is no, that’s a good sign you have some changes to make.

Here’s one thing I know. If the answer to that question is no, if you don’t commit to making a change for the better odds are really, really good that ten years from now you’ll look back and say, “Crap! I can’t believe I just spent the last decade tolerating this.”

Even if you can’t make a wholesale change with the flip of a switch, you can start taking steps. What one step could you take today? This week? This month? Don’t get caught up in the overwhelming bigness of whatever change you’re contemplating. Just take one step, and then another, and allow them to add up over time.

While it certainly happens, the odds are against a bad situation magically getting better by itself. You can either choose to make a change, or commit to living with it indefinitely.

I used work as an example, but you can apply this question to any area of your life. Relationships, health, life balance, etc.

So what do you think? Would you be happy with ten more years of this? If not, what’s your next step?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Year-in-Review Question: If I could change one thing…

Year in review: What one change would you make?

In my last post with 77 year-in-review questions, I suggested thinking about the past year as a “learning lab.” You have done all the experiments, and now it’s time to review the results to see what you learned (and ultimately how you can apply that to the coming year).

You might find 77 questions a bit overwhelming, so let’s start out by boiling it down to one:

“If I could change one thing about _________ (the decisions I made, how I showed up, how I treated people, what I did, what I didn’t do, etc.), what would that be?”

Note that this is about something you played an active role in, not something like “I would change my boss so he’s not such a jerk.”

The goal of this exercise isn’t to point out some grand deficiency to give you fodder for self-flagellation about your shortcomings. It’s simply a way to look at objectively at how the year unfolded and find the juicy opportunities for learning that will help you make a change for the better in the coming year.

Another way of thinking about it is rephrasing the question to, “What one thing have I learned from the the less-than-preferable aspects of this last year that will help me make next year better?”

Benefits of identifying one change

The beauty of this is two-fold. First, it gets you thinking about what the most important and helpful change would be. We all have things we would change as we look back. That’s just part of life. This lets you cut through the clutter and put your finger on what change would be most impactful.

Second, and related to the first, it gives you a manageable amount of change to focus on. Getting bogged down in trying to change all the things you would have done differently is a great recipe for no change at all.

Approach it with kindness and compassion

As you explore this question, please, please, please approach it with a sense of self-compassion. Especially for those of us with an especially vigorous inner critic (I call mine Brutal Bart), it can be easy for this question to become an exercise in finding yet another of the bazillion ways in which we suck more than anybody on the planet.

No, no, no! Do it with kindness. Do it with love. Do it with a positive intention to harvest the results of the last year to make the coming year better.

Apply it to multiple areas of life

If you want to expand this simplified year-in-review question, you can apply it to various aspects of your life. For example, what one thing would you change…

In your work?

In your relationships (family, friends, community)?

In your health?

In your finances?

In your spiritual life?

In your fun and leisure time?

What’s my one thing?

There’s no shortage of things I would like to change about how I showed up in the world over the last year. Two things jump out at me that I think would have a significant impact if I made changes.

Create more structure: I spin my wheels and waste a lot of time. If I could change how I approached the last year, I would institute some kind of structure for my work. Something simple to start with, like scheduling a block of time for writing every day, and then developing the discipline to stay with it.

Connecting with community: It’s easy for me to isolate and stay hunkered down in my cave. That’s especially true when things are challenging, as they have been for me this last year. If I could make one change there, I would commit to spending more time actively engaged in the communities I’m involved in.

You can see where this is going. Now that I put that out there in the context of what one thing I would change about the past, it sets me up to say, “Hey, here’s an opportunity to start creating that change!”

How about you? What one change would you make?

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

77 year-in-review questions to prepare for the new year

77 year in review questions

We’re coming up on a time of year when our attention naturally turns to new beginnings and changes for the better.

By January 31st, you will have invested 365 days of your life into the last year. You can either let that time slide into the past and start focusing on next year, or spend some time squeezing every last drop of value from it.

If you want to get the most out of the last year and gain valuable insights you can carry into your new year’s efforts for positive change, take a step back, look through an objective lens, and ask questions like, “What happened? What didn’t? What worked? What didn’t? What do I want to build on? What do I want to change? ”

Think of the last year as a “life learning lab.” You have done all the experiments. Now it’s time to learn from the results.

To get you started, below you’ll find 77 year-in-review questions coming at it from a wide range of angles. No need to try to dive deep into all of them (unless you’re a chronic over-achiever with no life – in which case, have at it!). Simply scan through and pick the questions that call to you.

You can ask any of these questions with a work focus or from the perspective of your life overall.

Digging deeper

If you want to go even deeper with any particular question, follow your immediate answer with questions to help you dig a layer further down, like, “Why? What was it about that? What contributed to that?” For example, for the question, “What drained me?” You might follow it up with, “Why? What is it about that that depleted my energy?”

The better you understand the specifics, the more useful the insight will be in guiding your future.

77 year-in-review questions

(Over the next couple weeks I will be writing posts taking a deeper look at a few of these questions, and will add links here.)

  1. On a scale of 1 – 10, how energized and alive have I felt?
  2. When have I felt “in the flow?”
  3. Where have I felt mired and stuck?
  4. Did I feel like I was on track?
  5. What would I have preferred to have had more of?
  6. What would I have preferred to have had less of?
  7. What was missing?
  8. What energized me?
  9. What drained me?
  10. How did I succeed?
  11. How did I fail? What can I learn from that?
  12. Where was the abundance in my life (not just financial)?
  13. What sucked? What can I learn from that?
  14. How am I glad I spent my time?
  15. How do I regret having spent my time?
  16. What mattered?
  17. What about how I spent my time this year will matter in ten years?
  18. What did I think was my top priority this year?
  19. What did my actions and choices show was my top priority?
  20. Did my priorities reflect how I want to live my life?
  21. How have I lived in alignment with what’s really important?
  22. How have I lived out of alignment with what’s really important?
  23. If someone I don’t know were to identify what I value purely based on how I spent my time, what would they say I value?
  24. What “empty calorie” activities have consistently taken my time?
  25. Where have I been in a rut?
  26. What am I most proud of?
  27. What do I regret most?
  28. How did I make the world a better place?
  29. Whose life is better because I touched it?
  30. What do I want to consciously bring forward into the new year?
  31. What do I want to consciously let go of?
  32. How did I show up as the person I want to be?
  33. How did I show up as a person I don’t want to be?
  34. What contributed to my success (in my work / in my relationships / in my contribution to the world/etc.)?
  35. What got in the way of my success?
  36. What felt out of balance?
  37. What changes did I make for the better?
  38. What changes did I make for the worse?
  39. What am I grateful for?
  40. Who am I grateful for?
  41. Who helped me? / What support have I gotten?
  42. Who did I help? / What support have I given?
  43. On a scale of 1 – 10, how kind have I been to myself?
  44. How has my self-talk been constructive?
  45. How has my self-talk gotten in my way?
  46. How have I shown myself love?
  47. Where has fear held me back?
  48. What stories have I been telling that have been limiting me?
  49. What have I been holding on to that I need to let go?
  50. What habits limited me?
  51. What habits supported me?
  52. What excuses have I made?
  53. How have I been compromising myself?
  54. What one thing would I change that would make the biggest impact on the quality of my life?
  55. What felt meaningful?
  56. What worries did I experience about things that never actually existed?
  57. What help did I need that I didn’t reach out for?
  58. What risks did I take? How did I step outside my comfort zone?
  59. What risks do I wish I had taken?
  60. What did I try that was new?
  61. How did the year contribute to where you want to be in 20 years?
  62. How did I invest in my future?
  63. How much did I laugh?
  64. What lessons stand out from my experiences this year?
  65. How have I lived from the heart?
  66. When have I felt at peace?
  67. When have I felt tension?
  68. The best thing about this year was ________.
  69. The worst thing about this year was ________.
  70. What advice would I give my last-year self based on what you learned and experienced this year?
  71. What inspired and motivated me?
  72. How did I challenge myself?
  73. Did I need to focus more on my own needs or the needs of others (or was the balance just right)?
  74. How did the people I spent most of my time with contribute to who I want to become and what I want to achieve?
  75. How did the people I spent most of my time with detract from who I want to become and what I want to achieve?
  76. What did I think was important that really wasn’t?
  77. What did I think wasn’t important that really was?

So there you have it. The past year has the potential to have a powerful impact on your future, simply through the insights you have the potential to gain. And the key to reaping those benefits is asking questions.

How do you prepare for the new year? Do you have any questions you regularly ask as you look back on the year that has passed? Do any of these questions strike you as particularly relevant for your life just now? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide