What questions do you ask yourself at this time of year? As you reflect on the year gone by and the one that’s about to begin, the specific questions you ask yourself will significantly influence the direction of your thoughts.

After all, what happens when you are asked a question? It’s almost impossible not to “go inside” and search for the answer, even if you don’t intend to answer out loud.

And my work in coaching with Clean Language questions has shown me that subtle differences in the questions I ask can generate big differences in the kind of answers I get.

For example, “What do you want in 2016?” will typically get a different kind of answer to, “What would you like to have happen over the coming year?”

Both of them are outcome-focussed questions, but they do different things with your attention.

I’ve tried to use both in different end-of-year reviews in the past, but neither of them has ever quite done it for me.

I’ve never been very strong on setting specific goals. I’m only really starting to understand that recently: Michael Neill’s recent post “Life Is Not A Journey” hints at an explanation that works for me.

Now that I know more about project retrospectives, I have new sets of questions to play with, all of which start from a review of the past, rather than taking a free-form dive into the future.

That makes sense to me, perhaps not least because I love my life as it currently is. I may not be rich and famous, but I’m not at all sure that I want to be. I’m happy, healthy, loved and safe. Given that, how can I tweak things to make them even better?

For example, borrowing from David Horowitz’s Retrium retrospective tool, plus Jeff Walker’s new year video (below) gives three options.

  1. The 4Ls: :
    • What did you like?
    • What did you learn?
    • What did you lack?
    • What did you long for?
  2. Start, Stop, Continue:
    • What would you like to start?
    • What would you like to stop?
    • What would you like to continue?
  3. Jeff Walker’s 4 Words:
    • What worked well?
    • What do you want to do differently?

Incidentally, even writing these out in text form may be changing them slightly. For example, is a column-heading “Longed For” the same or different to “What did you long for?” in its effect on you?

So, when all of that, where would you like to place your attention this end-of-year? Or, should I ask instead… what’s worked well for you in terms of end-of-year reviews in the past, and what would you like to do differently?

And, given that, what kind of questions make you sad, mad or glad?

  • I’d love to know about your end-of-year review questions: please post your experiences below.


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