david allen’s potent questions for a new year

Woodie Guthrie's New Year's resolutions

woodie guthrie

We’re not very big on New Year’s resolutions. We’ve always felt like “resolving” to accomplish big fat goals for the year sets us up for failure, and ignores life’s complexities—oftentimes, a single resolution is actually made up of a lot of different pieces. It’s juggling all of those pieces that makes keeping resolutions so difficult.

This is why we really appreciated the latest newsletter we received from David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame. Allen suggests starting off the year simply by asking yourself a series of questions that review what was successful and challenging about the last year, and imagine what you would like the next year to look like. While some of these questions are meant to set goals, for us it’s really more about the process of reflecting and setting the tone for the coming year. It’s about the big picture: how did we get here, and where are we going?

While Allen would probably reccommend going through each question and writing down an answer, we just used them as food for thought to center ourselves for what’s ahead. We hope they are helpful for you too.

LOOKING BACK

  • What was your biggest triumph in 2011?
  • What was the smartest decision you made in 2011?
  • What one word best sums up and describes your 2011 experience?
  • What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2011?
  • What was the most loving service you performed in 2011?
  • What is your biggest piece of unfinished business in 2011?
  • What are you most happy about completing in 2011?
  • Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life in 2011?
  • What was the biggest risk you took in 2011?
  • What was the biggest surprise in 2011?
  • What important relationship improved the most in 2011?
  • What compliment would you like to have received in 2011?
  • What compliment would you like to have given in 2011?
  • What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2011?

CREATING THE NEW YEAR

  • What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2012?
  • What advice would you like to give yourself in 2012?
  • What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2012?
  • What would you be most happy about completing in 2012?
  • What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2012?
  • What would you most like to change about yourself in 2012?
  • What are you looking forward to learning in 2012?
  • What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2012?
  • What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2012?
  • What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2012?
  • What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2012?
  • Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2012?
  • What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2012?
photo: Woodie Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions.
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