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Starting a New Year afresh & planning for happiness...

Updated: May 13

There's such a temptation in the New year to want to start afresh... Such a lovely word...


In a new or different way.

Sounds good doesn't it? However, how do you prevent yourself from repeating the same patterns & actually just doing what you've always done each year... New Year's Resolutions broken before the first gym payment comes out of your account?

It's something that we all find ourselves doing at times... Sometimes centuries & generations over before we learn our lesson :)

What I have found, is rather than just pulling out some New Year's Resolutions or setting some goals based on what we think we want, it can be helpful to take some time to reflect on the year that has been before you plan for the year ahead.

I'm not trying to tell you how to suck eggs, I just know that, for me at least, with structure comes a certain sense of planning freedom.

I have a 12 question review that I have used over the years to help clients review the year & plan for the new one, both professionally & personally... You can find it here - Year in Review.

I also do it myself each year.

This year I was fortunate to be given a Happiness Planner. Each day I work through a series of questions about how my day went, what I was excited about, what I'm grateful for etc. But what was even more enjoyable, was taking the time for myself at the beginning of the year to reflect on myself & what is important. By doing this you think about what makes you happy & fulfilled, plan ahead for the next 12 months & you can then mindfully integrate happiness habits into your daily life.

I'd like to share these 16 questions with you... It's not designed to replace The Happiness Planner (I love this product & will be using it again this year), nor the 12 question Year in Review that I share, however, it will hopefully help you (as it did me) to think about what is really important before you start to set your goals for this year.

Before I start, there's a really cool section at the beginning of the Planner:

26 rules to live by for a happier & more fulfilling life


These along with the Holstee Manifesto (See my previous Linkedin post here) provide a great reminder of what's important. I have the Holstee Manifesto on my wall at home - in my dining room so that I can remind myself each time I sit down for a meal. And with The Happiness Planner, I have a page that I can flick to for inspiration, if needed.

So, what are these 16 questions & why did I find them so useful?

16 questions to create a Happiness Roadmap

The Happiness Journal goes into much more detail & gives you spaces to work through these questions & answers, but hopefully this will give you something to get you started & again, I would highly recommend grabbing your own copy of the Journal.

1. What makes you happy?

  • What makes me happy?

  • How good does it make me feel? (1-10)

  • How often should I do it?

2. What makes you unhappy?

  • What makes me unhappy?

  • How much does it affect me?

  • Can I change it?

  • What can I do to change the situation?

3. What are your strengths?

  • Pick your 6 top strengths & rank them

4. What are your weaknesses?

  • Pick your 6 top weaknesses & rank them

5. What qualities or habits would you like to improve?

  • What I'd like to improve on

  • How?

6. What and who are you grateful for in your life?

  • List as many things as you like - people, ability, opportunities you have been afforded etc.

7. Who would you like to see more often?

  • Who I'd like to see more often

  • Things to do together

8. What have you achieved so far that you're proud of?

  • Write down all the wonderful things you've done in your life - achievements, growthful experiences, places you've been & people you've met etc.

9. What have you overcome?

  • Reflect on the lows the challenges & the obstacles in life you have overcome

10. What lessons have you learned?

  • List your greatest life lessons so far

11. What is your definition of success?

  • What does success mean to you?

  • How would it feel if you were successful?

  • What does being successful enable you to do?

12. What are your dreams? What do you want to achieve in life?

  • What activities or achievements do you have on your bucket list?

  • What experiences will you regret not having should you not achieve them in your lifetime?

13. How do you see yourself in 5-10 years?

  • List personally & professionally for both 5 years & 10 years

14. What is holding you back? What are your fears?

  • List mental barriers or fears that you harbour

  • Think about how you will overcome those fears in the next 12 months

15. What do you want to achieve in a year's time?

  • What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months that takes you toward your long-term goals?

16. Sum up what you will do over the next 12 months

  • What you will stop doing

  • What you will continue doing

  • What you will start doing

And that's it - just 16 questions that will start you thinking about what you want to achieve this year but more importantly may help you to stop repeating the same mistakes... truly starting afresh:

In a new or different way.

Why I love these questions?

My own 12 questions tend to be slightly more focused on Business & Goals (which is good given I'm a leadership & business coach & they were designed for my clients). However, these questions have you delving into yourself a little more deeply, being very specific about what is important for you both professionally & personally & the mindset that might prevent you from achieving your goals. They also break things down into bite sized chunks, which I've found to be important.

Last year my goals (which are laminated & in my shower) were too lengthy & too many. I achieved many of them but not all of them, so I'm learning from that & not repeating it this year!

This year I have simplified it down to 8 things (interestingly 5 professional & 3 personal which reflects my focus for this year) that I want to achieve but more importantly I'm truly clear about why & the roadmap to get there. Plus I have a theme this year of having more fun & adventure... Something that makes me happy & yet I lost sight of last year.

I am very grateful that with all the self development work I have done over the past 5 years, it was relatively easy for me to answer these questions, but don't feel afraid to ask someone to help you.

Working with a coach and / or mentors can help you solidify what's important & help to keep you on track by acting as your accountability partner & your sounding board... I certainly wouldn't be without my coach or mentors.

Thank you Happiness Planner, thank you coach & mentors & thank you friends, colleagues & family for your part in my happiness... Let's have a great 2018!

If you'd like to talk to me about how I can help you, either through my Leadership / Business Coaching or through my latest venture - The Common | The Entrepreneurs Playground, then please contact me - debra@debrachantry.com.

Thank you for reading & feel free to share your thoughts / ideas in the comments below.


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@2020 Debra Chantry