Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the sea of New Year related articles and finally get back to what you were doing when the holidays so rudely interrupted your groove, here I go with yet another friggin’ “Something you should do as the new year begins” post. But not to worry – just like my world-famous ‘Amazon-gift-cards-for-all’ holiday shopping strategy, this shouldn’t take long.
I want to share something that I began last year that completely blew my mind recently. I picked it up from one of my favorite places on the internet – Marc and Angel Hack Life. It’s a set of 95 questions that you ask yourself…about yourself. The trick is to be honest and basically write what first comes to mind as to preserve the honesty of your feelings about the subject.
To be clear, I’m not taking credit for the origination, please go visit the inspiration of Marc and Angel – you’ll love it!
What I decided to do was answer them near the beginning of each year, and then go back and compare my answers to the previous year, and perhaps in the future, to many years prior. The way I set it up (to help with any confusion about logistics and organization) is: I made a folder called 95 questions and inside it a ‘master file’ with the sheet of 95 questions – unanswered. Then each year I just copy a new word document and name it by the date, copy the whole set of blank questions and start answering. I put the answers in a different font color so that it’s easy to glide through and read later, but an easier way to do it would maybe to be a ‘commenter’ or to make line breaks – whatever suits your style. In the end, I have a folder that contains the blank set of questions and dated documents that hold my answers from each year. I find it quite handy!
One step is very important: do NOT even open the previous documents until you’re all finished, because it will skew and influence your answers, which really defeats most of the purpose. Admittedly, this is a little less exciting the first year, since the comparison step is not there yet, but it will still bring out many self-awareness revelations that you hadn’t thought about in a while.
Once you’re all finished, open an old one and compare away. Since I use MS Word for this, I can view them side by side with sync scrolling and just go down the list looking back and forth.
The results just might astound you as much as they did me. They can give you a great indication of things you wanted to work on but didn’t, things you have made a little progress on, and areas in which you have come light-years from where you were. If nothing else, it will bring out some nostalgia, and who doesn’t love nostalgia – it’s like parfaits!
So, in the spirit of showing you just how profound this can be, I thought I’d share a few of my answers with you. Naturally, I took out any that were inappropriate or too private. Did I mention this is meant to be for you and for you only, unless you choose to share it? Some of them really took me by surprise. I honestly figured I hadn’t changed all that much, although I knew I had somewhat. I’ve added comments below each one to illustrate how the change – or similarity – made me feel, or made me think. In each one below, you see my 2013 answer first and my 2014 answer below it.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it really kind of blew my mind. Please, indulge yourself…
11. What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of? I am not happy with my life.
11. What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of? My reality is completely constructed by me.
(I think I’m sensing some progress here!)
16. What do you want to remember forever? Good times I’ve shared with my son.
16. What do you want to remember forever? The good times between my son and I.
(I think I’m sensing a pattern here!)
28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now? Loneliness.
28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now? My knowledge of what I’m capable of.
(That felt empowering to read.)
40. What never fails to frustrate you? Stupid people.
40. What never fails to frustrate you? People’s inconsiderateness.
(This was pleasantly interesting to me; I now seem more concerned about a person’s intention instead of their intelligence. Damn, that first one sounded arrogant!)
43. What’s a common misconception people have about you? That I’m fulfilled/happy.
43. What’s a common misconception people have about you? That I don’t have their very best interest at heart.
(I wish we all knew that deep inside, most people really do have the best intentions.)
47. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend? Loyalty, honesty, intelligence
47. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend? Loyal, considerate, honest.
(like #40 above, this made me feel very warm inside.)
48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? Less than one minute.
48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend? Quite a while.
(When I read this, it brought me to tears – no lie.) 🙂
53. What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy? Drink alcohol.
53. What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy? Force myself to smile.
(This seems like a slightly better solution.)
80. What’s something you know you can count on? My pessimism.
80. What’s something you know you can count on? My Mind.
(You’re damn right – nice switcheroo!)
87. What’s something that used to scare you, but no longer does? Exercise…?
87. What’s something that used to scare you, but no longer does? My acquisition of happiness.
(I kind of enjoy both nowadays.)
90. What’s something simple that makes you smile? Nice weather.
90. What’s something simple that makes you smile? A big authentic smile on another person.
(I feel like I’m developing compassion, something I never thought possible. Nice one, kid.)
Some of these are a bit personal, I’ll admit, but as you know I don’t mind a little vulnerability here and there if it will help someone gain some perspective or help them view something in a different way. I hope you enjoyed looking into my mind for a couple of minutes – it certainly was fun for me!
So, if you’d like to participate – and I would encourage you to – it will probably take 20 minutes or so, pretty inexpensive insight for only 20 min/yr. Even if you are doing it a little late (I didn’t find this until March, 2013) you’ll accomplish the same thing. You can download the pdf version below. Just open it and copy the text to a doc or whatever floats your boat and get started!
So, in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that.” I really hope you’ll take me up on this small exercise – it just may be the most eye-opening thing you do next year.
I would really love to read your comments, ideas, suggestions or any other relevant (or irrelevant) brain dump you have below! To your most prosperous 2014!