Four Questions for Your New Year

January is “busy season” for self-development coaches and “improving myself” types. There’s blogging, and suggesting resolutions, and shtick about “killing it in the New Year”. It’s time to get the pump-up going – some loud music and strobe lights like a Tony Robbins seminar.

Try to create a bunch of emotional momentum and conjure commitment and inflate that will-power – as if we actually believe it’s going to last THIS year.

Because, with the list of “to-dos” and “tasks” and “goals” and “dead-lines” most people are going to put themselves under – and all the stress that’s likely to cause, it’s a wonder anyone gets started with anything.

And, we all know that will-power pump-up is going to go flaccid as the party balloons in a week or two, don’t we?

Personally, I like to sleep in late and get a relaxed, though well-focused and intent start. So, maybe you won’t mind if I skip all the New Years’ pressure-hype and do something much simpler – and hopefully more useful. We can come back to the limp will-power in a later post.

For my New Years’ blog, I just want to suggest asking FOUR questions – easy ones. They aren’t questions most people would expect. And, asking them in the right way may help you wake up to the new year with a different view.

Q1: What was your biggest lesson of the last year?

big lessonFor most people, that question will remind them of their biggest mistake of the year – something that may seem negative at first. But, if you think of the lesson as something you’ve already paid the tuition for – in time, money, heart-break, etc., you may see it differently.

Ask yourself: “If you’ve paid an expensive tuition, aren’t you entitled to some valuable learning?”

Think about what the “biggest lesson” cost you: Consider how valuable the learning ought to be based on that. If you are the subject of the lesson, and the content of that lesson is personal insight that is positive and empowering for your future – what will your notes about it look like?

Whatever mistakes you make, the cost is your tuition, and that is the amount of value you should get from them.

Think about it until you can honestly say you would not reverse your mistake if that meant giving up your learning. Sometimes, this takes more thought and notes than other times. But It’s almost always worth the effort.

In Motivational Literacy, we call this “error conversion”: You get to stop feeling bad about the mistake – and instead feel really good about learning something valuable.

It can take a little practice to get good at this. Luckily, there’s a “biggest lesson” available on a daily basis for most of us – if we bother to convert it. So, you can do this now for your previous year – and practice it on a weekly or even daily basis during the new one!

My Personal Biggest Lesson:

Last year, we learned to paraglide, and I made the mistake of 
letting that type A personality creep in to my "just for fun" 
activity. I pushed too hard, grasped too tightly - and in the 
end I learned more slowly and had less fun than I might have if I 
had remembered how to relax and play like a kid.

Of course, that was why I decided - at 50 - to finally do something 
just for fun (something I never do did) - to learn just that 
lesson. Again.

Tuition paid, and lesson learned. I've been having more fun the 
whole rest of the year because of it. And, even my "work" 
productivity has been going up and up as I've allowed myself to be 
more playful. I would call an overall increase in both productivity 
and happiness to be a great return on my investment!

Q2: What are you proudest of from last year?

what are you proud of?That’s a simple question.

Take the time to put the answer in writing – whether a private journal or a social media post doesn’t matter. Just acknowledge the achievement and let yourself feel good about it.

My Personal Proudest:

I'm going to stick with the Paragliding Project for this one as 
well. I took time away from "work", and spent more time with my 
wife having an adventure. The adventure included navigating 
frustrations of learning and schedules and weather and equipment. 
It also included facing fear and danger. We both had some phobic 
responses to free flight. I had a close call in some trees - and 
frightened into a trembling sweat in some turbulent air. We even 
had some physical pain from exertion and minor injuries.

After that, we dealt with the FAA to fly in restricted air space - 
and scouted and cleaned-up some launching and landing areas in our 
town. Along the way, we made new friends and have the beginnings 
of a local paragliding club.

Whatever your achievement was, feel especially good about it, and about the ways it had a positive influence on others. Think about it a bit – and see how much you feel like taking that thing to the next level – or maybe tackling something similar. Imagine what that could be. Invest some thought and notes, here, because the next question circles back to it…

Q3: In the New Year, where will you most make valuable use of those things?

anticipationThink about the valuable learning from your biggest lesson – and the things you learned around your biggest achievement of the year, too. Think about the feeling of wanting to do more of the thing you’re most proud of – or to take it farther.

Imagine how those things may come together in the New Year for you – to empower you to … something. Use these questions to explore that:

  • What do you think that something might be?
  • Where do you think it might happen?
  • Who do you think will be with you?
  • What will the first step of that feel like?

My Personal Anticipation:

Sticking with my paragliding adventure, the New Year is already 
very exciting. The lesson of playfulness along with the 
achievements of connections and technical skills are going to 
let us establish some great new flying locations for local 
pilots. And, along with those new friends, we're going to turn 
our town into a paragliding destination.

Just let your imagination fill in the blanks of your anticipation – and consider how interesting it could be if you were to write those things down about your own adventure – and then the same time next year see how they fit into the “lesson” and “achievement” questions.

There’s no pressure, here – just curiosity – and you may find the next (last) question increases that.

Q4: In the New Year, what are you most interested to learn more about?

curiosityThis is completely different from what you should feel most pressured to do!!

What are you most interested incurious about – to learn more, or to build a skill for?

Use the following questions to explore that:

  • How does that connect to your other answers?
  • Your biggest lesson of last year?
  • The thing you’re most proud of from last year?
  • What you may do to build on those things?
  • Even if your biggest fascination to learning and skill is completely different – what will it be about?
  • What will the first part of learning that be like?

My Personal Interests to Learn:

I'm going to learn more about ridge soaring, thermaling, and 
cross-country flying - as well as a great deal more about 
establishing landing zones. I've got some great friends to work 
this stuff with, and loads of open air with hawks also waiting 
for us to fly with them.

OK. There are more than four questions on this page. But, the extras are just to help you explore the four main ones.

While this may seem like the lazy-man’s slow-start to a New Year, remember: A great wave seems small as it forms out at sea. But, when it meets the beach it will be huge. As they say, you’ll get out what you put in.

Done right, answering of these four simple questions can form the ripple that becomes your personal tsunami of momentum for this year’s achievements – and fulfillment.

Please join the conversation by sharing your answers in the space below. Do the same with any comments or questions about adventures, Motivational Literacy – or how to change your life!

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3 Responses to Four Questions for Your New Year

  1. Q1: What was the biggest lesson learned last year:
    I learned that the only goals I can actually aim and reach for are the ones that I put in writing. Although it was a lesson I had already known, I didn’t realize how to effectively put my goals in writing and map out a way to reach them. I had a simple “Goals” word document in which i listed a few goals each year and wouldn’t revert back to it until the end of the year. I have since incorporated the use of freemind software into my daily regimen and have already started to visit the success of goal mapping. One of my goals of this year is to study mathematics of finance, especially probability / texas hold em, and enter a ‘live tournament’ – I’ve been actively studying a few times per week and would say I am already an above average player. I’ve already met my goal of playing in a live tournament, and won the tournament.

    Q2: what are you proudest of from last year?
    I am extremely proud of my work ethic, determination, and consistency. To make a long story short, I was going to transfer schools since I was at a community college in a business transfer program. Despite being rejected from my top choice school, later being accepted and offered a poor financial aid package, and having both of my parents refuse to sign my loans, I enjoyed my first semester AT THAT SCHOOL due to my relentless perseverance towards my goal of admittance. I knew that my small, positive habits of staying consistent towards my goals would pay off, and they surely did..

    Q3: Where will you make valuable use of the lessons learned / achievements from last year?

    I plan on continuing to work towards personal development and mastering my own lifestyle habits and choices so I can continue to enjoy the compound effects of living a well structured, happy, successful life. I plan on applying my relentless attitude of success towards my goals of this year and am working day in and day out on my online personal training website: The Finest Fitness, which will be running in full gear within the next month. A few other personal goals of mine will be to learn several gymnastics moves, continue growing through functional fitness training, and score in the top 5% in my next Spartan Race in August, due to my disiplined behavior and relentless approach towards personal development and success.

    Q4:What are you most interested in learning more about?
    Myself.. Truthfully myself and what my passions in life are, and what I want to channel my energy into. I’ve been doing more research and putting more time into meditation and other thought provoking ways of rest so that I can find what I truly want to pursue as I near the end of college. As of right now, I want to learn more about mathematics / finance related, and functional fitness training as I had mentioned previously. I’m curious to learn new methods in which I can integrate into my own workouts that are fun, exciting, and functional that will keep me healthy and performing well in any challenge I take on physically and mentally. I hope to carry this over to my personal training business and apply the knowledge i learn to new clients as well.

  2. Lori Sutherland says:

    Q1: What was your biggest lesson of the last year?
    My biggest lesson of the last year was something that I already knew but was forced to relearn – yet again. (This time, I hope it sticks!) The lesson was / is to use care when trusting people in the workplace. I am part of a 4-woman team at work and I am the senior person in our group (I’ve been in the position longer). When the current contract began, I was carrying what was once (prior contract) a 4-person load by myself. Finally, after 1.5 years into the contract, I began receiving help; one by one. Granted, it’s rarely easy for a group of women to be able to work in harmony all of the time – regardless, it has been my goal to share my knowledge / experiences to enable my peers to acquire a similar level of respect / trust from our customers as I have through the years. We work in an extremely busy environment and training new people while maintaining the workload is challenging for both sides. Sadly, what is intended as constructive feedback is not always well-received; some take it entirely too seriously. (These same people receive the same level of kudos as they do good things; i.e., I’m not just pointing out mistakes.) People want to know it all coming in the door, they want to “fix” everything that appears to them needs fixing – without having received a thorough understanding of the existing process. I am all about process improvement / optimization, etc., but until someone has experienced the entire process – we’re not deconstructing anything during the training program (which also is not received well). I also find that people are jealous of the level of respect and expressions of appreciation afforded to me by my customers (and have even been somewhat vocal about same). What they fail to recognize is that I’ve worked hard for that and I will continue to do so. In other words, they should not expect to just “have” that without working for it. Also, I’ve tried to encourage open communication, but that isn’t how things have gone / are going. What I’ve had to realize is I can suggest things, but that’s all I can do. People have their own care-factor and that is on them. As I see it, the only thing I can affect is how I proceed. I will still function within the Lead role as is my assignment, but I will {hopefully} not make the mistake of trusting too much and continue to realize that these people who appear friendly when it suits them will just as quickly stab you in the back as part of their attempt to climb the ladder.

    Q2: What are you proudest of from last year?
    I’m proudest of the fact that I began investing more in myself again. I’d become complacent with myself through the years; giving more to others and less to me.

    Q3: In the New Year, where will you most make valuable use of those things?
    I will make most valuable use of these things in everyday life. Each day, I will take time to nourish my brain, my soul, and my body. In doing so, not only am I enhancing myself, but I also feel it will benefit me more in dealing with / understanding others.

    Q4: In the New Year, what are you most interested to learn more about?
    I am interested in finding my niche (something that could possibly be an alternative source of income that is also enriching to me). I was tempted to sign up for Yoga Instructor training at the end of last year, but due to body structure concerns – I refrained. This year I will increase my attendance to yoga classes (working my way back in slowly to strengthen my body structure) and see how it goes.

    • John says:

      Hi, Lori,

      Thanks very much for participating!!

      Great and open sharing!

      I want to suggest a couple of things:

      1. How does it feel different if you “Use care in trusting people” – compared to “Develop skill in character evaluation”?

      The latter is intended to suggest there are metrics to be explored…

      2. Awesome investing in yourself. Something so many people – and especially women in our culture – don’t realize should be #1 – because every ability to do for others comes from a strong and able self! We’re expected, culturally to just “be” strong and healthy – and to stay focused on giving and giving. IMO, it’s important to realize that frame of reference isn’t mathematically logical and isn’t sustainable. KUDOS for getting that in your sights and encouragement to you for keeping it in mind!

      3. What is your system for keeping those things in mind – and anticipating their application daily? Are you using a journal, a ritual – Or, have you thought about that?

      4. Glad to hear you are getting stronger and pursuing an interest. I hope you let yourself be curious about something truly challenging and pursue it true passion!

      Thanks again for commenting. Hope to “see” you again soon.

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