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25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2016 (or at the beginning of 2017)

1. What am I most proud of this year?
Diving into my creativity with learning to sew and writing more than ever. I’m deep into a novel, which feels pretty exciting.

And creating a structure that allowed me to get physically fit and focus on creativity. I placed more emphasis on things going on outside of work than on work itself. It was lovely!

2. How can I become a better _____________?
I want to become a better me. I need more direction and focus. I still need to maintain compassion. And I need to feel comfortable with direction I’m currently going in or change it. I think I just need to understand where I’d like to be headed.

I also need to be less judge-y. More compassion and patience needed, as always.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?
I’m feeling lost. I’ve done a pretty good job of letting go of expectations in the past. Accepting my current situation for what it is and not placing conditions on it. But I think I’m feeling weighed down by expectations. Mine. Others’. Society’s? Truth is, nothing in my life has gone as expected since I was 17. This is not uncommon I’m sure. But sometimes I still sit inside my 17 year old mind and think about the future, and then compare outcomes. I’m usually astounded at how off track it all feels.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?
When I see myself feeling the pain of old wounds, there’s a reason they’re reopening. They can be re-healed. I just have to be patient and remember that as I get older, old stuff comes up in new contexts.

5. Am I passionate about my career?
Nope. My career is something I’m good at (for the most part) that allows me the freedom to explore creative outlets. I don’t know if I need to be passionate about my career–maybe I can be passionate about what I do when I’m not working.

6. What lessons have I learned?
That it’s okay to “suck,” especially in the beginning. If I let go of those pesky expectations, I can just have fun with my creative work….and it always feels good. Regrets come from putting off what I love. I’ve also re-learned that I can’t have what I want when I want it. But I guess that’s a good reminder.

7. What did my finances look like?
I felt comfortable. Savings > expenses, which is where I wanted to be. Retirement account needs attention.

8. How did I spend my free time?
Writing. Sewing. Building muscle.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?
I completed 2 intense exercise programs. The weight-lifting changed my body in ways I really appreciated. I ate well, mostly.

I tried to stay engaged in learning. I think learning has been harder when it’s related to my career, although I did get a chance to hear Esther Perel speak–and she was inspiring. I tried to learn more about things that interest me personally. So I turned to my muses, Liz Gilbert and Ira Glass, and to my podcasts, fiction, and well-crafted TV shows (Downton Abbey!!!) for personal inspiration.

I think my soul needs a little more. I know that writing and learning and being creative feed my spirit….but I’m feeling a bit ungrounded. Probably need some more yoga.

10. How have I been open-minded?
I tried so hard to listen with curiosity and openness. Without the chatter in my head that thinks it already understands and knows how it should respond. I’ve focused on this both at work and at home. I can keep working on this one.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?
Listening to the Magic Lessons podcast and to Liz Gilbert’s live talk. She has really opened up my eyes to the power of being creative and just letting it flow. And I’ve done that. No regrets for sure!

12. What projects have I completed?
I sewed a reversible tote bag that I love using on a regular basis.

Lots of mending and hemming pants.

I’ve completed significant passages of my novel that were so difficult to write, I often avoided them. And now I’ve written some of the best pages of my life! 🙂

I went 99% paperless at work. That brings me minimal joy but saves me a lot of space.

13. How have I procrastinated?
I need to spend more time with my sewing machine. I have a set of materials for a project that I just can’t get myself to start. I bought myself a cutting mat and rotary cutters for my birthday in October and only opened them yesterday! I’m not sure what this is about…I don’t think I’m scared. Obviously I can follow directions and create a useful product; I’ve already done that!

I always procrastinate when it comes to getting back into fitness. I took a break after my latest 4-month intense program, and I just can’t seem to get back into it. Granted, I was having some back issues, but being sedentary doesn’t actually help that either.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?
I need to get back into a fitness program. Having a calendar to follow was like gold for me! And around my workouts, I was pretty good about scheduling time for creativity, meal-planning, and work.

Continue to visit coffee shops to prioritize writing.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure to hold me back?
Fear of failing to meet some amorphous expectation of what and who I’m supposed to be and how my life is supposed to look–this has plagued me on and off all year, and into this new year as well. It makes me irritable and sad and at times, hopeless. It makes it easy to get caught up in the things that don’t matter. It fosters generalized anxiety and useless worrying.

I think there’s still a sliver of perfectionism left too. I’ve worked hard to let that go, but I still hold myself to standards that are unreasonable and probably not even my own.

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?
I continue to doubt my effectiveness as a therapist. Sometimes, I’m not that good at letting go of the outcome, which creates anxiety about my ability to help people who depend on me. On the flip side, I have to be careful not to let positive outcomes affect me either, because that’s a crazy roller coaster of ups and downs. I need to stay on the ground while everyone else takes their ride. That’s when I’m really most effective.

I’ve also questioned my self as friend and girlfriend. Are my boundaries okay? Am I asking for too much? Am I giving enough? AKA is my imperfect self good enough?

17. When have I felt the most alive?
On vacation in Nashville. At the Blue October concert. In the audience listening to Liz Gilbert. Any time I tried something or went somewhere new. Any time I immersed myself in music, words, tactile experiences, and conversation.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?
I ask for what I need. I offer empathy and remorse when necessary.

19. How can I improve my relationships?
Listen more, talk less. Offer appreciation.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?
Maybe. I had to make some hard decisions this past year regarding where to spend my energy. I had so little to give at times that I had to separate myself from relationships that felt draining or that didn’t feel uplifting. I imagine if those people stopped long enough to consider my actions, they may have found them unfair.

21. Whom do I need to forgive?
Myself for not being perfect. I have forgiven those who have hurt me. I may not have forgotten and will be cautious in the future, but I hold no grudges.

22. Where is it time to let go?
Expectations regarding “what my life is supposed to look like.” That’s clearly a re-occurring theme.

23. What old habits would I like to release?
Worrying about other people who are capable of taking care of themselves.
Using my worry for other people as an excuse not to focus on me.
Cynicism.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?
Keep pushing for a fitness routine, as well as a mind-body wellness routine.
Continue to make time for writing.
Make more time for sewing.
So, creating and maintaining structure, even better than last year.

25. How can I be kind to myself?
Recognize the expectations when they arise and let them go. Be at work one day at a time, rather than worrying about “doing this forever.” Notice my small victories. Start journaling more. Cook more. Meditate and/or practice yoga more. Walk more. Exercise more. Eat more. Read more. Write more. Watch and listen more.

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