Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

15 Compelling Questions to Enrich Your 2013 Personal Review

Twilight Over Lake

I try to spend the least amount of time possible dwelling in the past or anticipating the future.  Living in the present moment brings so much more ease and richness into my life.

At the same time, I feel it’s so important to consciously capture our life lessons and to reinforce them.  Otherwise, due to the power of habit, we may just keep playing the same old songs.

The end of the year offers a natural time to pause, acknowledge and celebrate your positive changes.  Inner reflection also gives you a chance to spot the sticky, tricky, icky parts of your life. Without this recognition, personal change may never occur.

So cozy up with yourself!  Find a quiet corner or inspiring natural environment and consider one or more of these 15 sets of essential questions.  Take the time to consolidate your 2013 insights so you can enter 2014 with clarity, focus and good heart.

Questions to Enrich Your 2013 Review

You can use these questions as writing or journaling prompts to dig deeply.  Or, you can work with them lightly to paint an impressionistic picture of your year.  There’s no need to respond to every question.  Just pick the ones that call to you.

1. Describe your year in a single word, sentence and paragraph.

2. Look back at each month of the year.  Write one sentence to describe each month.  Or, write a sentence that elucidates the most important lesson learned each month.

3. What were the highlights of your year?  The low-lights?

4. Read through your journals, highlight the juicy bits and compile a mega list of lessons learned.  Then whittle your list to your top 3 life lessons from 2013.

5. Who/what were the significant people, events, and places during the past 12 months?

6. What would you like to forget about this year?  Do you have any regrets?  Anything you would like to have done differently?

7. What was the emotional tone of 2013?  What were the dominating emotional patterns?  Don’t forget the good ones!

8. Capture your year as a color, a taste, a feeling, a visual or a smell.

9. Look through your photos and chose the ones that best represent the year.  Write an evocative headline for each.  Create a photo collage that represents the essence of your year.

10. What did you accomplish?  What challenged you?

11. List your most important insights about your body, emotions, mind, spirit, work, finances, and/or relationships.  And, any thing else important to you.

12.  What lessons, insights, perspectives, and new behaviors would you like to carry forward into the new year?

13.  Is there anyone to forgive, including yourself?

14.  Did you choose a single word as your guiding star this year?  If so, how did it go with your word?  Did you remember it?  Did you bring it alive?

15.  Create your own question about the past year.

Don’t forget to remember all the goodness of your year, and your own inner beauty!  Don’t just focus on the problems and challenges.

Dancing with Uncertainty

Overall, it’s been a remarkable year for me.  Surprisingly, some of my deepest and strongest patterns shifted.  I came to understand on a gut level that so much of my closely held fear was a construction of my own mind.  I opened to receive love in a new and more complete way.  I let go of some very heavy baggage this year.  Life is all the more sweet for having done so.

Of course, I had my challenges too; like a bout of bronchitis that I thought would never go away.  As difficult as they may be, I know there’s so much wisdom to be gained from the difficulties.  And that keeps me going because life is uncertain.  We never know what will come next.

Have you started your 2013 personal review?  What stands out for you from 2013?

I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please subscribe for free updates by email. With love, Sandra


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  1. I love those questions, Sandra! I want to use them for my 2013 review post. 😉

    It sounds like you learned a lot of the same lessons over the year, as me. It was a year of challenges, and I’m grateful for every single one of them.

    • Hi Bethany,

      I’m glad these questions resonate for you. Those are deep lessons to learn! I’m so happy for you. This has been a relatively easy year compared to past ones; just a few bumps here and there. Be well!

  2. I love your questions and will make the time to sit with them. Thank you for that gift – and love to you!

    In 2013, I chose the intentional phrase “collaborate with love”. Learning to live this phrase stretched my heart space and I found (yet again!) when I resisted that stretch a bit of chaos and pain happened and when I leaned into it, with joy, energetic and physical doors opened that I didn’t even know existed…And all of that affirmed to me the power of presence – which I am bringing with me into 2014.

    • Hi Joy,

      I’m so delighted you like these questions!

      That is a powerful phrase you chose in 2013. So many of us have been able to witness this in action and to benefit from your love-based collaborations on your blog. I can see that there would be times when resistance would come up. I know it would for me. It’s so exciting to hear about new doors opening, ones that you never imagined!!!!!

      The power of presence, I think, will be with you always now!

  3. Hi Sandra,
    What a superb way of self analysis!!
    Thanks Sandra, you have always inspired me, encouraged my creativity and assisted me in discovering another aspect of myself.
    As I ponder over these questions, I must confess that the most important highlight of my life in this year has been stumbling on your blog [quite unknowingly] and learning so much from it. I have liked each moment of reading the spiritual and introspective posts you write. Love you for that.
    So my first GRATITUDE goes to you, Sandra!
    And yes, I am following all the questions…let me find a ‘cozy’ corner!

    • Hi Balroop,

      I am so honored that you find discovered my blog a highlight of your year. I’m grateful for all that you have contributed in the comments on Always Well Within as you think deeply and have a unique perspective on life.

      Enjoy your cozy corner!

  4. I’ve wrote these questions in my journal. I’m going to reflect on them during my alone-time. Just reading this post makes me get back to everything that happened to me and I’ve done this year. Life really IS uncertain. Thank you for this post!

    • You’re welcome, Zoe! Writing them in your journal is a great idea. Then you can visit them a little bit at a time. I hope it’s a good process for you. The uncertainty of live is striking me in particular at this time. So I’m trying to remember the preciousness of each moment.

  5. Re: 14. The touchstone words emerged this year – on their own. Love the dancing with uncertainty. =)

    • Nice! Thanks for showing us that this can happen naturally. Mine always emerge on their own too between my birthday in September and the end of the calendar year.

  6. Jean Sampson

    These are wonderful questions, Sandra, and I am going to take more time and maybe answer some of them with a friend of mine with whom I share “birthday questions” each year. One thing that I have realized during these last few years since I have been associated with you and Joy and Robin Easton, is that I am always looking for the positive thing, the thing I can be grateful for in the midst of a mess—-example, our kitchen sink is stopped up and unusable and caused a big mess in the basement. However, I am grateful that my best friend’s husband is a plumber and that the toilet still works just fine!!! 🙂
    I also save my upset feelings for the big things! I have had some really big things in the past 10 years, so it helps to put things in perspective.
    Anyway, I am looking forward to working with these questions and perhaps working them with my friend.

    • Hi Jean,

      I love how you have birthday questions you ask with a friend. I’m glad some of these questions resonate for you and I hope you enjoy exploring them with your friend.

      You have such a great perspective. What a mess with your plumbing, life happens, doesn’t it! But, what a blessing that you can see it in perspective. Thanks for this inspiration.

  7. A great list of questions for one to ponder. I plan to work through the list of questions personally and then with my family. It’s pretty cool looking back on how my “challenges” wee actually opportunities for growth. I’m also excited about the future! Great insights. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Kelvin, What a neat idea to go through the questions with your family! Thanks for offering it. It’s interesting how different the challenges look in retrospect! I love that you are brimming with excitement for the future too. Wishing you the best.

  8. Love these questions for contemplation. I often get overwhelmed at the ebd of the year to do such a review n ive found that doing mid year n a end of the year review helps for me.

  9. Hello; thanks for sharing this list with us. sometimes it takes a good friend to ask the right question to help you change a mindset. I would say that my word for 2013 was growth. it wasn’t all sweetness and light, but the negatives taught me important lessons that will make 2014 even better. I met so many great people this year through blogging. Several including kelly corbin adrienne smith robin hallett and ashley faulkes have helped me solve specific problems. And I always learn something every time i open my inbox and read an email alert about your latest post. I am healthier than i’ve ever been at 260 pounds and only taking one prescription medicine. My website is ranked highly and more and more people are starting to ask for my help selling their amusement equipment. thinking 2014 is going to be even better. thanks and take care, max

    • Hi Maxwell,

      Thank you for responding so deeply. Growth isn’t necessarily easily, but it does make our life all the better when we pause to learn the lessons it offers for us. You have clearly done that, which is impressive. I’m so happy you’ve met such great people this year, your website is ranked highly and more people are asking for your help. And, thanks for your kind words. I truly hope 2014 is better than ever for you.

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