Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of the Year

Joyful woman enjoying the winter snow .

For someone who is not real big on the holidays, I absolutely adore these days between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Part of it is because I work full-time at a college and, like our students, we get these glorious days off  before starting full steam ahead again in January.

The other part is I happen to believe there is something magical about these days.  Because they are the last days not just of the month or the quarter but the whole year, people tend to write them off as an insignificant segue into start of a New Year.

But I know better.

It’s as if these days have a secret they will share only with those who can get quiet enough to listen and be still enough to notice.

While many people are bustling about returning items, reconnecting with family and friends, or trying to check off the last few items on their yearly to do list, I’ve been quietly calling the pieces of myself back home in order to acknowledge all the adventures I’ve had during this trip around the sun.

Before I even begin thinking about what I want to create in the New Year I ask myself a series of questions about the current year. The answers I get inform my direction and my intentions for the upcoming year.

I wanted to share them with you as a way to consider what 2017 has meant to you. You may want to sit with them, answer the ones that feel most in need of answering, skip those that don’t make sense for you, or make up your own.

After allowing my answers to these questions to reveal themselves to me, I take out a piece of paper and put a big plus sign on one half of the page and a big minus sign on the other. Armed with the insights from this year, I can clearly articulate what I want more of and less of in the New Year.

Because this is a process and the questions require time to marinate, I first read through them and let them seep into my psyche before attempting to answer them. Then I grab a pen and let the answers come to me.

By about Sunday I’ll be able to collect my responses and apply the perspective they afford to the New Year. On Monday I’ll spend some time welcoming 2018 and contemplating the choices ahead of me. I’ll Name & Claim what I intend to create and then release that intention into the wild.

I share this with you in hopes that these questions might help you find some clarity and direction in the New Year. Maybe you can ask some of these questions of your family and friends at a New Year’s Eve gathering?

May you savor these last days of 2017 as they share their secrets with you.

Baby Steps & Best Advice

  • Where did the smallest step produce the biggest result?
  • What was the best advice you were given this year?
  • Who shared it with you or how did it find its way to you?

Body Wisdom

  • How aware of your body were you throughout the year?
  • Did you feel connected to your body and allow yourself to feel the pleasure of being in a body or did you disconnect and spend the majority of time in your head?
  • Did you have any health challenges or achieve any health or fitness goals?


  • What books, movies, music, conversations, trips, trainings, or classes forever changed the way you think, feel, see, or experience life?
  • What places provided you with the most peace or inspiration, the best working environment, the most creative conversations, the most nutritious and delicious food and drinks, incredibly beauty, or fascinating people?
  • Where did you love hanging out and with whom?

Fears & Thrills

  • What was the scariest thing you did this year?
  • How did you feel once you faced your fear?
  • What was the most thrilling thing you did, said, felt, or experienced this year?
  • What made you feel most alive?
  • What caused you the most pain or regret?

Gadgets & Gizmos

  • What new technology did you master that catapulted your business or personal life forward?
  • What products, apps, or life hacks made your life easier, more organized, or more fun?
  • What purchased created the most joy and/or frustration as you worked through the learning curve?


  • When and how were your gifts recognized and appreciated this year? (By you and others.)
  • When did you need to activate your superpowers and how did you do so?
  • Was there a particularly painful lesson that held an exquisite gift for you?
  • When did you have to practice patience and learn to move at the pace of grace?

Health & Well-Being

  • What creative, meditative, fitness, or health practices did you begin that made a noticeable difference in the quality of your life?
  • What new foods or drinks did you discover this year that you now can’t live without?
  • What really nourished you?   (Mind, body, and spirit)
  • What health care practitioners offered you the most comfort or provided you with the most helpful information necessary to achieve your optimal health and well-being?


  • Were there any new arrivals in your home? (Pets, people, plants, furniture, etc.)
  • Were there any departures in your household or family circle?
  • Did you move or add on to your existing home or somehow alter your living arrangements?

Livelihood & Creativity

  • Did you start a new adventure, begin a new business, retire, or leave an old career to start something new this year?
  • Who was on your dream team? What collaborations or partnerships gave you the most joy and brought about unexpected or innovative results?
  • Who needed to be fired from your life? What relationships created chaos, unnecessary drama, miscommunications, or major meltdowns?
  • Where did you create something amazing out of nothing?
  • Where did you take “massive imperfect action” as my coach likes to call it?
  • What crazy idea captured your attention and refused to let go until you took action? What happened next?
  • Where did you lose track of time and fall into the flow of doing what you love?


  • How did money show up in your life this year?
  • Did you experience any money miracles or windfalls?
  • When did you feel especially abundant? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • When did you feel constricted or tight about money? What thoughts, practices, purchases, or actions contributed to that?
  • Did you read any books, attend any seminars, work with any financial wizards or coaches who helped shift your mindset around money?


  • Who walked into your life this year? How did their presence impact what’s possible for you?
  • Who walked out of your life this year? How did their absence create more presence for you?
  • Who do you long for? Who is missing in your world?
  • What relationships shifted or transitioned as you changed and grew?
  • Where was your love most needed and how easy was it for you to offer it up?
  • Who surprised you with their unwavering support and love? Who disappointed you?


  • Where did you go this year and how did you get there?
  • Did you travel for business, for pleasure, out of obligation, and/or because it was your soul’s calling?
  • Who did you meet in your travels?
  • What did you see?
  • How did it change you?

Spirit/Divine Intervention

  • How did God/the Universe/the Great Creator/Divine Feminine or Masculine reveal itself to you? How did you respond?
  • Were any of the answers you were seeking hiding in plain sight?
  • What was lost? What was found?
  • When did you feel closest to God or Source energy?


  • What was surprised you most this year?
  • How did this surprise rearrange your reality?
  • What unlikely sources of support, funding, friendship, or freedom showed up for you?

World Events

  • How did world events impact your actions?
  • Did these events alter your opinion of humanity or change the way you view the world or the future of the planet?
  • Did these events catalyze you to join a movement, stage a protest, offer aid or assistance to those in need?

If you had to sum up the year in 6 words, those words would be:

___________    _____________    _____________     ______________   _______________    _____________

* Mine would be:  You can’t make this stuff up.  Really, it was that kind of year! Totally amazing.

Top 10 Takeaways from the year? List them here!











I’d love for you to share any aha’s or epiphanies that may arise from these questions in the comments below.


Don’t Let Chaos Eclipse Calm

Chaos vs. Calm

The topic of this week’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series is chaos. Specifically, how to keep calm in the midst of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

I’m fairly certain if you’re alive on Planet Earth, you’re feeling the effects of the intense energy vying for your attention. Everywhere you look, you can find evidence of escalating emotions as it appears we have collectively taken the fun out of “dysfunctional” and now just frighten the life out each other.

But if you look closer and get quieter, I believe you’ll find evidence that we are equally committed to collaboration, communication, and contemplation.

Admittedly it takes practice to cultivate consciousness in the midst of collective chaos.  It’s difficult to decipher the facts and figure out what’s really going on. It takes courage to stand up for what’s true and what’s right for you. And it’s almost impossible to interrupt the pattern you’ve been programmed to run when you get scared or feel threatened.

But it’s imperative that you are able to question, object, or offer another perspective than the one that leads down the rabbit hole of doom, doubt, and drama.

With all that’s already on your plate, I’m going to assume you are not looking for yet another cause to commit your evenings and weekends to.  So I’m going to suggest a simple practice that you can do anywhere, anytime you feel stressed.

It’s a simple tapping exercise that I originally learned from Gabrielle Bernstein that goes like this.

  • Touch your thumb and your pointer finger and say the word “Peace”
  • Next touch our thumb and your middle finger and say the word “begins”
  • Then touch your thumb and your ring finger and say the word “with”
  • And finally touch your thumb and your pinky finger and say the word “me”.

You can substitute the word for whatever quality you wish to experience in place of “peace”.  It’s easy to do.  It’s so subtle no one even has to know what you are doing.  And it’s a tactile reminder for you to call in the quality that you most need in the moment.

Because sometimes all you need is a moment to restore your equilibrium.  I like to say you are only one thought away from a new perspective.  It’s just getting to that thought can take a little wrangling.

For more conversation around this topic, jump in on our FB Live Sunday Summer Stretch Series episode this evening at 7pm Central time.

We’d love to hear how you keep calm and carry on.  Leave your feedback or suggestions in the comments below.





What’s the Plan?


I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.

It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.

Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.

As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.

So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.

So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now?  What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?” 

The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!

Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”

Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.

I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top  10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.

The other was Nourished the daily planner for a well-fed life.  I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.

As much as I love  each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.

For example, every morning it helps me to ask:

  • What is this day about? 
  • What wants to come forward?  
  • What needs to get done?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What am I willing to do to feel that way?

Every evening it helps me to figure out:

  • Where was the magic hiding?
  • Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
  • What was lost? 
  • What was found?
  • What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
  • What brilliant ideas surfaced?
  • What thoughts consistently hound me?
  • What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
  • Where did I excel?
  • Where can I improve?

The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.

What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dreamspeech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.

Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay.  Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.

One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.

You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*

I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.


*P.S. –  There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead.  Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan.  Keeps it interesting!



Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “V”

Atmospheric Christmas window sill decoration

The letter “V” is the visiting today to validate and vouch for the various strategies we been voicing to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer.

If this were a tv show, I’d be asking you to vote for your favorite strategy. But I’d like to give you a vacation from vocalizing your views or vetoes and simply ask you to practice the strategies that add value and verify what works for you.

Venting about what vexes you may be all that’s necessary to vanish the stress.  Or visualizing a vibrant,  healthy, happy version of yourself may do the trick.

The variety of tips vying for your attention may vary. So I’m going to volunteer one of  my very favorite strategies.

Find a room with a view and let your imagination veer you towards that venerated state of a virtual Valium like quality peace and serenity. When you can vacate the need to control events and open to the vulnerability of being present, the volume of vibrant ideas you recognize as vital signs to your well-being may astound you.

One of those ideas for me is to venture into video. So slave-driving Santa will be bringing the equipment I need to up my game, face my fears, and be more visible in the New Year.

I’d love for you to voice your viewpoint in the comments below.


P.S. How would you like a perfectly sized Resolve to Evolve journal to record your resolutions, write out your to-do or ta-da! list, or record the many vistas you see out of your room with a view?  Just let me know where to send it below and I’ll get one to you in time for the New Year. Please know your information is safe with me because selling your information violates all that I hold dear.

Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Plan “S”


Skipping to the front line of the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge is the letter “S”, stacking one stone upon another in seasonal style.

There are several “s” words and ideas that strive to serve you. I could shower you with strategies that leave you staggering with a sprawling spread of spirited suggestions, but sticking to something more subtle suits us better.

You don’t need a series of solutions to get through the day. All that scheming, scripting, scouting, and scheduling may sacrifice your sanity. Where’s the satisfaction in that?

So without further speculating I shall spill the beans and sow the seeds of what I hope will be a shared sentiment.

Slowly succumb to the sights and sounds of your sacred space. If you can’t physically be there, go there in your mind. Soften your sharp edges. Seize the opportunity to shimmy, shake, shine, shout, or seek shelter in this place sanctioned solely for the spectacular surrendering of your stress.

It may seem silly or sound self-indulgent and you may be tempted to shrug it off.  Do it anyway. It will soothe your soul, sweet pea. Splurge. Savor. Soak it up.

You deserve some serious stress relief. And I’m here to see that you shift your sights slightly sideways so you might be seduced by a shameless sashay into a silent night – or seconds if that’s all you can sequester – to sleep, shop, or shovel snow in heavenly peace.

Score some stickers or snag a sassy Resolve to Evolve mini journal  by sharing your “S” stories in the comments below.  I never sell the information on my list so your secrets and your emails are safe with me.

P.S.  Here’s a bonus book recommendation for Plan “S”.  Start With Why from Simon Sinek. If you prefer watching TED talks to books, catch his sensational talk here. (Thanks, Tom, for sending the book to me in the (saint) nick of time for Plan “S”.)