Always Well Within

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

16 Questions to Help You End the Year Well

Dandeloins - Year End Review

Confession:  I’ve been looking back on the year for weeks already. I think it’s that important to carry your insights forward and to close the year well.  This is how you become the very best version of you.

I use many of the following 16 questions when I reflect on my year.  Because, honestly, it can be hard to remember the whole year without a few prompts.

But you could actually ask them at any time.  You could take a quiet moment and reflect upon them at the end of each month, each quarter, half-way into the year, when you feel challenged, or on your birthday.  Just change the context of the questions.

It’s up to you!  Use them too much and you’re in danger of brooding; too little and you may block your own change because the power of habit is strong.

These questions will help you spot the sticky, tricky, and icky parts of your life. I know, that can be uncomfortable.  So please don’t forget to focus on the positive and to celebrate the goodness too.

I created a free 7-page worksheet with these questions to facilitate your year-end review.

16 Compelling Questions for a Rich Year-End Review

You can use these questions as writing or journaling prompts and 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 select the ones that call to you.

When you’re ready, get cozy.  Find a quiet corner or inspiring natural environment and reflect on these questions for awhile.  Set them aside if you begin to feel tired or like it’s too much.  Come back to them when you feel fresh and ready to explore more.

  1. Describe your year in a single word, sentence or 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 the year.
  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 the year?  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 anything 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. Is there anything you would like to complete before the start of the new year?
  16. Create your own question(s) about the past year.

Just in case, let me ask:  Did you remember all the goodness of your year and your own inner beauty?  Look back at what you’ve written and be sure to add in the positives if you haven’t already.

My Year In Brief

When I look back on my year, the word that comes up for me is “repair.”  I spent enormous amounts of time on repairing my body, my mind, and my home.

At the same time, my husband and I designated this year as the “year of less pressure.”  I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to better balance work and play and to not let my “pusher” get the best of me.  The summer stretched longer than ever.  I enjoyed every moment of warmth, all the splashes in the hot pond, and weeding in the orchard.

Of course, I had deeper insights too, and I know there’s more to come as I continue to work with these questions.  In sum though, I can say my life is good and every year, every moment feels precious to me.

I hope you will take some quiet time to reflect upon your year too.  If it’s too busy right now, download the worksheet, let the questions percolate, and fill it out as we get closer to the end of the year.

When you consolidate insights from the outgoing year, you’ll be able to enter the upcoming year with clarity, focus, and a good heart.  So take some time and go for it!

How was your year?  I would love to hear!

Thanks for being here!  If you have a moment, please help me touch others by sharing this post.  Thanks!  If you’re new, please subscribe for free updates by email.  With love, Sandra


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  1. What a powerful list of Questins Sandra. I’m going to take some time and respond. It’s a great opportunity to ponder and contemplate. Thank you dear friend. 🙂

    • I’m glad these questions resonate for you, Elle. Please enjoy your time pondering them. We still have three weeks till the end of the year, so plenty of time to let them percolate. You are so welcome!

  2. What a great idea! I have never thought of doing a review this way. These questions allow for reflection that takes into consideration the more qualitative aspects of life, such as how we feel. So often we get caught up in quantifying achievements by the numbers, but it is important to remember to feel. Thank you for sharing your list!

    • Jean Sampson

      Hi Sandra, this is so timely because every year a dear friend and I, at our mutual birthday season (Fall), spend the day together and, over White Russians and peanuts 🙂 have a list of “birthday questions” that we ask each other. We really share deeply and honestly and it just feels wonderful to review our year together. We take about 2 hours with our White Russians (I am NOT used to drinking so I have to sip slowly 🙂 ) and really think about what was good and what was not so good, what we would do differently, what we are proud of doing/being, what we are grateful for and our hopes for the next year. She was the one who introduced me to this tradition years ago when we were on a day trip together and we liked it so much, we have just continued it every year since then. She may be getting ready to leave the area 🙁 so I guess we will have a long phone session sometime in late Oct or early November after that. And, this has been a really good year for which I am very, very grateful. The parts I wasn’t so happy with were all, as usual, learning experiences 🙂 Sounds like you had a good year with some learning experiences yourself, Sandra! It’s all good! 🙂

      • What a wonderful tradition, Jean. I like to do a review on my birthday too because astrologically that’s when a new year and a new flow begins. I’m so glad you’ve had such a dear friend to really think about your year together.

        I’m glad you had a good year. Yes, I did as well plus the learning experiences. You’re so right: it’s all good. Although I know it can be very challenging as well. Much love to you. I always appreciate your presence and good heart.

    • Hi Annie,

      Yes, this is so different than the typical business review, for example. As you suggest, it’s about the quality of our life, what we’re learning, and how we’re growing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Be well!

  3. Sandra, these are GREAT questions! I’ll be curling up with them and writing my thoughts and responses in an upcoming blog post! xxoo

    • I’m glad you like them, Peggy! When I saw your share on Facebook, I wondered if you might share them in a blog post. Can’t wait to read it.

  4. Hi Sandra,

    I have never reviewed my year, I guess I never felt the need as I let my life flow most naturally. I know that is not a good approach…I am trying to ponder though! Last year too you had inspired me to write an article at the end of the year. I am reading the points listed by you and will surely pick one up.

    I am not sure whether I am sure about my word this time, though I have been concentrating on ‘Giving’…giving all my love, attention and care to my grand daughter and now there is one more added – my grandson too. I think my next year will go into that too. It is quite challenging but I chose it, out of love.

    Thanks for so many questions to reflect on! I am bookmarking them.

    • Hi Balroop,

      I think living in the moment and letting your life flow is another good way to go. There’s no need to use these questions unless your drawn to doing so.

      How wonderful that you’ll be living in the bubble of caring and love with your grand daughter and grand son! I’m so happy for you. I understand it can be challenging. I’ve been seeing that too, the ways love can be challenging and I have to keep calling it forth.

      Thanks for your thoughts, dear Balroop!

  5. Terri

    Sandra, I love how gentle you must be as reflected in your posts. When I read anything here, your blog feels like a loving space.

    I was glad you cautioned about being hard on ourselves when reviewing our lives the past year as prompted by the great questions you list. I had to back way off as I was not in the best moods to think on these questions when I first read them. I’m in a better space and hope to continue reviewing. So much to be gained from this. Really great questions.

    I read this post this morning and now returning because I wanted to see if I could digest another question or two in a more positive light. I’m taking these questions s-l-o-w-ly and because I just read something that made me think of this post. Here is the quote:

    “the year of letting go, of understanding loss. grace. of the word ‘no’ and also being able to say ‘you are not kind’. the year of humanity/humility. when the whole world couldn’t get out of bed. everyone i’ve met this year, says the same thing ‘you are so easy to be around, how do you do that?’. the year i broke open and dug out all the rot with own hands. the year i learnt small talk. and how to smile at strangers. the year i understood that i am my best when i reach out and ask ‘do you want to be my friend?’. the year of sugar, everywhere. softness. sweetness. honey honey. the year of being alone, and learning how much i like it. the year of hugging people i don’t know, because i want to know them. the year i made peace and love, right here.”
    ― Warsan Shire

    I happened upon the quote here:

    This was the first I’d ever heard of her. I thought it was neat how she summed up her year.

    Thanks for freely sharing so much here on your blog. It’s been soothing, inspiring, and gently encouraging to me.

    • Dear Terri,

      I’m so happy to hear that you feel my blog is a loving space. That’s exactly how I wish for it to be!

      I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself by backing off when you’re not in the right mood and going slowly too. There’s no rush and these are deep question. We can chew on them for awhile. And really don’t need to answer them all.

      What a beautiful quote! I love how she summed up her year too. Just one perfect paragraph. Such an inspiration.

      Thank you again for your kind words. They encourage me! And thank you for sharing your perspective.

  6. Love this idea, Sandra! What a great way to review the past year and find out more about yourself, as well as have some written memories. Thank you!

  7. Great suggestion girl! I just downloaded your review! Nice!!

  8. Love the questions Sandra, going to read through these again as I take me and my journal to the beach to do some reflecting on 2014 and my recent move
    Love you have Leonie’s journal it is a delight

    • Dear Suzie,

      So happy you will incorporate these questions in to your reflections on 2014! I can just see you at the beach now! I hope you get all the downtime you need after the big move.

      I’m in love with Leonie’s journal!

  9. Lovely post. Later, this weekend, I will make myself a good cup of tea, put my feet up, and answer those questions for myself. Thank you!

  10. Brilliant, Sandra. 16 questions to review the year and for us bloggers, to blog about them as well:) 16 posts for the new year haha! I’m not sure if I’ll blog about all 16 but lessons learned or insights discovered in 2014 would make for excellent writing prompts for myself and blog posts for my readers.

    I appreciate how many of the questions touch upon forgiveness and letting go of the past.

    • Hey Vishnu! That’s a great way to get blog post topics. 🙂 16 posts on the topic might be a little too much….ha, ha! Have fun with it and I can’t wait to see what you do.

      If we could only forgive and let go! Life would be so very different. How wonderful we have that chance in each and every moment.

  11. Hi Sandra,

    I’m going to answer these! Just what I need! Hot pond, garden, balance and Hawaii???
    When can I visit;) It seems like my year had big highs and low lows without much in between. I stayed centered the best that I could in spite of it all. I also think I did very well at detaching from the results of both.

    Thanks for the challenge!

    • Great, Tess! Yes, it sounds like paradise, doesn’t it!!!! It’s cold and rainy now if that’s any consolation! I had some very intense months this year too. I’m amazed by how you’ve been able to stay centered. Letting go of results makes a big difference. You are awesome.

  12. Great post Sandra!

    I look back at my journal entries & archive the significant ones. I’ve planned to keep the best photos in a scrap book for every year.

    I do think about my achievements, failures, emotions, life lessons and people in my life every year, but so far I wasn’t writing about it in particular.

    Now, I’ll be applying your idea of describing the year in a few words.

    Also, I look back at the past year at my birthday, apart from the new year. This helps me to think of how I’ve actually grown as a human, instead of growing just in age!

    Thank you and have a great weekend,

    • You’re so thoughtful in your approach, Atiba! I always find my birthday, the main time of the year to look back and forward. More so than the New Year, but it doesn’t hurt to look again. I’m glad you like some of my questions and plan to use them. Enjoy!

      • Thanks Sandra,
        Birthday makes looking back more special and meaningful for us personally. New year acts as an added check to sort things out! I will surely apply a few of your questions, thanks for sharing them! Have a great day 🙂

  13. Noel

    Thank you for this. This was my first time on your site (I got to this post from and I’m definitely going to stay and explore. I’ve never done any kind of formal reflection on a year once it has passed but 2014 was abnormally full of both good and bad stuff so I needed to reflect. By working through your questions I really landed on some important insights that I hope to carry forward into 2015. It helped me realize things I hadn’t realized about my year and myself.

    I just want to say again – thank you for posting this. I really appreciate it.

    • You’re so welcome, Noel! I’m so delighted that these questions help you land on some important insights that you hope to carry forward in 2015. Of course, that’s because of your very own openness and willingness to see! Thanks for your appreciative words and for letting us know!

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