It’s been a fairly tough year for me personally.
There has been heartache, loss, many many tears and a lot of disappointment. Definitely not all sunshine and rainbows!
While we can’t turn back time, we can look back on time and learn from it.
We can seek out the moments of happiness and joy (even if these moments weren’t in the form we were expecting or hoping for).
We can grow as a person from a tough year.
Important reminder – I am not a medical practitioner or trained therapist. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or suspect you may have a mental illness, please seek help from a medical professional.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Any compensation I receive does not affect the price you pay.
Here are my top 20 questions to ask yourself if you had a tough year.
Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of them. The point is to get you thinking and reflecting on your year and looking at it from a different perspective.
1. When did you laugh hard?
You know those laughs when you laugh so hard you think you might have pulled a muscle? (okay maybe that’s just me, I haven’t been exercising as much as I should!)
You cry happy tears or you snort but you are so busy laughing that you just don’t care.
When did you last do that?
There’s bound to be a time, (even if there is only one!) when you laughed your head off and felt damn good about it.
Related post – How to Laugh More
2. What moments did you enjoy on your own?
If you are a parent with a new baby or have several children, your first thought might have been – what time on my own?
Even in the busiest families or craziest weeks, we have little pockets of time when we are on our own and some of those moments can be joyous and special. They might be everyday moments we take for granted and don’t think much about.
One of my precious moments was spent sitting with my cat. I named a star after him and occasionally at night I would sit on my bedroom floor with him next to me staring up at his star. Such a simple thing but such a special moment.
What time did you enjoy on your own?
3. What moments did you enjoy with other people?
If you’re an introvert like me, you might get a lot of time on your own but not be spending enough time with other people. (I’m guilty of spending way too much time on my own this year).
Who did you enjoy time with this year? Family? Friends? Co-workers?
If you have a complicated family dynamic and your family doesn’t get along, there might be a group of them or even one that you enjoyed spending time with.
Try not to let the tough times with people in your life overshadow the wonderful moments with people.
4. When did you cry so much it helped you feel better?
People tend to fear crying because it makes them feel vulnerable. Many people think crying is for the weak. I don’t believe that at all.
I cried a lot at the end of this year. I was grieving.
Yet, I firmly believe that I would be in a completely different (and by that, I mean worse) mental state right now if I hadn’t cried those tears because all of that pain, grief, loss, and stress would still be bottled up inside of me screaming to get out somehow.
Did crying feel bad at the time? Hell yes. There were many nights I sobbed (not cried but sobbed) myself to sleep. It was awful, I won’t deny that.
But for me, it was better to feel the pain and get it out of my body than to keep it all inside.
When did you have a good cry this year that helped you?
Related post – 11 Ways You Have More Power Than You Think
5. When did you feel proud of yourself for something small?
Let me explain.
Yesterday I was working on the blog and I worked out how to create a particular shortcode. Before I started, I had no idea what a shortcode was. Code of any type has always been my Achilles heel.
Anyway, yesterday I created the code and put it on my site.
I felt a rush of pride and accomplishment
I was sitting in my office feeling proud and happy despite all the other things that aren’t going right at the moment.
As it turned out, I had to remove the shortcode because it seemed to be interfering with some other code which was disappointing but that didn’t take away from my sense of pride in figuring it out. I learned something that I will be able to use down the track.
We don’t only get to feel proud of the big wins in our lives – we can feel proud of the small ones as well.
What small thing did you do that you are proud of?
Related post – Are You Proud of Yourself?
6. When did you keep your opinion to yourself?
Yes, this question is asking – when did you keep your mouth shut?
When things aren’t going well and we’re feeling stressed, it can be easy to lose our temper, snap at people or say something that we shouldn’t and hurt someone’s feelings.
With social media making us think it’s perfectly okay to say whatever we want, whenever we want – there is responsibility and just good old-fashioned manners and kindness in shutting the hell up.
Sometimes the best thing we can do is keep our thoughts to ourselves and say nothing.
You’ve probably had a few of these moments throughout the year but spend a minute to think if any really stand out for you.
7. When did you stick up for yourself?
There’s a time for shutting up and there is a time for sticking up for yourself.
People might try to put us down by bullying and mean comments. They might criticize our values and overstep our boundaries.
Sticking up for yourself is important (as is sticking up for yourself the right way). No violence or putting other people down either.
How did you stick up for yourself this year? How did that make you feel?
8. When did you spend a small amount of money that made you feel great?
When it comes to spending money, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that we need to spend money on expensive things to feel good. Not true.
Sometimes the simplest inexpensive things can make us feel happy and give us a sense of joy. You might have bought an app that improved your life or downloaded a personal growth product that made you feel good.
What did you buy with a small amount of money that made you happy?
Or you might have given a small amount of money to someone else that made you feel good?
Related post – Are Your Spending Money to Fill a Void in Your Life?
9. When did you feel great about sticking to one of your values?
Living by our values can get tough when times are stressful. We either take on someone else’s values or we get off course with our own. Sometimes we compromise our own values to make someone else happy or probably more to the point to avoid conflict with them.
Perhaps you stayed vegan in a family of meat eaters or drank less despite pressure from people?
Name a situation this year where you stuck to a value despite resistance from the people around you?
Be proud of yourself for that.
Related post – Know Your Own Values
10. When did you believe in yourself despite a hardship?
Believing in yourself can be hard. Believing in yourself when it feels like your life is crumbling around you is even harder.
It’s also when we need our self-belief the most.
How did you believe in yourself this year, despite any chaos that may have been going on around you?
Related post – How to Believe in Yourself When People Don’t Support you
11. Are you proud of yourself for dealing with adversity this year?
What are you proud of about yourself and the way you handled your problems?
You don’t have to like what happened but you are allowed to be proud of how you handled yourself. You can be proud of your strength.
At this point you might be thinking – ‘but I don’t want to be strong or I’m sick of being strong’. I get that we would prefer not to have to deal with adversity.
But things do happen and sometimes it helps to look at it from a different angle.
Are you proud of how you overcome a problem? Proud of how you picked yourself back up after a setback?
Picking yourself back up can be damn hard but you did it and you should be proud.
If you want to be more mentally prepared for dealing with challenges and would like to build your resilience level, CreativeLive have an excellent online course – How to Be Bold, Resilient and Better Than Ever. Have a look through the curriculum of the course to see if it can help you.
Related post – How to Maintain Your Self-Confidence Through Times of Adversity
12. What bad habit did you do less of or give up completely?
Habits are incredibly important in our lives and it goes without saying we all have our bad ones.
So which bad habit did you do a little less of this year? Or better still, which bad habit did you give up completely?
Remember this doesn’t have to be something big like giving up smoking. This is about big and small things.
For now, let’s actually focus on the small ones. It could be something like not throwing your towel on the floor or rinsing your coffee cup after you use it.
We don’t always have to focus on the big-ticket items to feel good, because lots of small-ticket items add up to allow more room for the big ones to take center stage.
Related post – How to Have More Self-Discipline
13. What good habit did you pick up this year?
Did you start any good habits this year?
This doesn’t necessarily mean something huge like going for a jog for an hour every morning (though good on you if you did that – well done!)
Again this could be something small like spending 10 mins decluttering the house at the end of the day or writing in your gratitude journal every morning.
These are just examples, it could be anything that made your life a little bit easier, better or happier.
Related post – 10 Best Books on Habits – Learn How to Break Old Habits and Create New Ones
14. How did you work through any self-doubt you felt?
If it’s been a tough year then there is probably a chance that you struggled with self-doubt at some point.
You might have wondered if you were doing the right thing, making the right decision, if you were good enough or if you had the courage to do something that had to be done.
If you need extra help overcoming self-doubt, the amazing Mel Robbins has a How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt course over at CreativeLive. I’ve just completed this course myself and got so much out of it. I know it’s going to be a game-changer for my personal growth going forward!
Read my course review post to see how the course can benefit you.
15. Did you accept a part of yourself that others might think you need to change?
Let me explain this one further. I’m a sensitive person and some people have seen that as something I need to change over the years. Years ago I might have agreed that I need to change that part of myself but not anymore.
Now I have accepted and embraced it.
I’ve accepted I’m an introvert, a book nerd, a person who cares for animal welfare, and a caring and sensitive person. If people don’t like that, then tough. I like who I am.
What about you? What parts of yourself have you accepted this year?
Related post – Stop Waiting for Acceptance – Accept Yourself
16. What did you learn this year?
As someone who is all about growing as a person, I strongly believe that we should never stop learning.
Some things we learn from doing, some from reading (and then doing), and let’s face it, we learn a lot from making mistakes. We learn from doing things the hard way.
What mistakes did you learn from this year?
Related content –
- Do You Learn From Your Mistakes?
- Are You Repeating the Same Mistakes?
- 3 Common Mistakes You Might Be Making That Can Mess With Your Life
17. How did you use your imagination or creativity?
If you are having money problems, you might have imagined winning the lottery a few times this year but that’s not quite what I was thinking about!
Did you daydream? Did you get curious about things? Did you try something new and creative?
Related post – How to Be More Creative
18. Did you deal with your pain or try to bury it?
I mentioned crying earlier and that’s one way of dealing with pain but it’s certainly not the only way.
This isn’t so much a question of HOW you processed your feelings but more a question of – did you deal with them at all?
Many of us like to deny our pain and try to push it aside with eating, drinking, shopping, drugs, gambling, or some other behavior that generally gets us into more trouble and makes us feel worse.
We numb ourselves, we look for an escape, we dig our heads in the sand and deny, deny, deny; when sometimes the best way to deal with the pain is to move through it, feel it, and come out the other side.
Did you deal with your pain?
19. Did you seek help when you needed it?
A lot of people are reluctant to ask for help. Either they are embarrassed, ashamed or don’t know where to find help in the first place.
Perhaps people fear being seen as vulnerable or weak?
I strongly believe in asking for help and seeking out assistance. I don’t see it as a weakness but as a sign of strength and bravery.
Personally, my go-to is books. On several occasions this year, I found myself wandering through the bookstore during my lunch hour. It dawned on me one day that I wasn’t just strolling around the books, I was looking for help.
Something was troubling me and I was looking for comfort. I was looking for an answer to a problem. I was admitting I had a problem in the first place.
When I find a book I need, I read it and process it. I re-read parts that resonate with me. I do the exercises in the book (if it has any). I let it all incubate in my mind.
Most importantly I take action.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be books. I’ve worked with a coach, and spoken to counselors and physiologists at different times in my life. I’ve spoken to doctors when I felt I needed it.
The point is when I need help I reach out.
How did you reach out for help this year?
20. Did you set yourself goals this year?
As I mentioned in an earlier post on the key to setting goals, I didn’t write down my goals for the year.
I hope these 20 questions help you have a more positive outlook on some of the things that happened during the year.
Struggle (while it’s not fun at the time) leads to growth and strength. I know you are strong and I know you can use what you have learned this year to power up your future.
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