It’s the season for New Year’s resolutions and reflecting on how the year has gone. As you think about what you’ve achieved this year, I encourage you to think about the following categories. You may have grown in ways you aren’t giving yourself credit for.
If you’re a member of a couple, it can be beneficial to answer these questions together. You may think of answers for your partner that they don’t think of for themselves and vice versa. It’s also a great way to let each other into your respective inner worlds.
If there is anyone you want to get closer to or deeply connect with, like a friend or family member, the same applies. Swap answers or answer these together.
1. Have you grown through making yourself vulnerable?
Did you open up to someone? Were you open about an area of insecurity or shame? Did you ask for advice? Did you attempt to turn around missteps from the past or address regrets?
2. What’s one thing you learned from someone else this year? Have you discovered any new learning channels?
For example, during the year I’ve participated in a Reddit “bumper” group, comprised of people who, like me, had babies due in October 2022. This group has all the best aspects of an internet community and I’ve learned so many small tips from others in the group. We’ve also experienced shared joy at our new babes, and taken comfort in the sense of solidarity from all going through a similar life experience at the same time.
3. Have you finally acted on a piece of solid life advice?
We don’t always hear life advice and immediately act on it. Sometimes it takes years. This can be due to stubbornness or resistance, or simply because a relevant circumstance hasn’t come up.
For example, I’m someone who generally doesn’t like routines. I get bored by sameness. Routines make me feel restricted. All that said, as the mother of a newborn who has struggled with breastfeeding, I’ve religiously kept to a routine of pumping every three hours around the clock for the last two months. I didn’t know I had it in me to keep this up. In this case, I wouldn’t have succeeded without the routine. Although I normally resist routines, it’s been an essential tool in this instance.
4. What’s one way that cooperating with others (or just one other person) has enhanced your skills or results?
What have you achieved through cooperation that you wouldn’t have achieved on your own?
Personal growth isn’t something we do all on our own. Others are a bridge that helps us grow our skills and make accomplishments.
Bonus: How have you benefited from cooperating with someone who you differ from in some important way? You don’t have to share someone’s outlook 100% to be able to benefit from cooperation. For example, I “work to live” more than I “live to work” but if I only worked with people who share my outlook, I’d unnecessarily limit myself.
Another example: I’m a vegan but one of the doctors I worked with earlier in the year is a huge advocate for a carnivore diet. I ignore that aspect of his advice but take other aspects of it.
5. What’s one way that being more flexible helped you? What’s one way that being gritty and inflexible helped you?
Some situations call for flexibility. Sometimes we discover “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze” in the process of pursuing a goal, and choose to change our goal. Sometimes we realize the way we were going about achieving a goal isn’t working and we need to pursue it a different way, but keep the same goal. At other times, we benefit from being dogmatic and persistent, no matter what.
It’s not always obvious which situation calls for which approach. However, it can be useful to reflect on our capacity to alternate between these two approaches. How and why do you choose your approach in a given situation? How have both approaches benefitted you in different ways?