September begins a time of transition. Students return to school, the weather turns cooler, the sun sets a little earlier, the leaves begin to fall.
The Jewish religion celebrates the New Year and observes the Day of Atonement. It is a time of deep introspection as we all contemplate mortality and the fragility of life by commemorating the 9/11 terror attacks.
As visionaries, it is also the time when many leaders start thinking about what 2017 will look like, both personally and professionally.
As you look inward to discover your roadblocks to living your most fulfilling life, here are 15 of the most important questions to ask yourself.
1: What are my values?
What matters to you most in this world? What will you passionately fight for?
2: Am I living my values?
Is there congruence between what you say is important, and what you are doing? Is there any aspect of your life where you are not being true to yourself, or not living in authenticity?
3: In looking back over the last 1-5 years, where did I go right?
Especially in times of difficulty, it's hard to recognize our good decisions, and our wins. Acknowledging them as we intentionally move into the future empowers us to seek out people and experiences that set us up for success.
4: In looking back over the last 1-5 years, where did I go wrong?
Similarly, where did you experience setbacks? Recognizing these setbacks, in the totality of all of your experiences, empowers you to avoid these mistakes in the future. I recently shared the 5 most important questions to ask yourself once you have emerged from difficulty.
5: What scares me or causes me to procrastinate?
What is holding you back from making an important decision or taking a risk? What circumstance is causing you to stay in a comfort zone, impeding you to embrace a calling or chase a dream?
6: How can I take better care of myself?
Good health is true wealth. What health habits can you drop or add to your daily lifestyle to improve your condition, and minimize your risk for getting sick or requiring medication?
7: Do I have the right people around me?
We are the average of the 5-10 people closest to us. Are your closest friends a reflection of your value system and your goals for your life?
8: How am I improving life for others?
How are you contributing, even in a small way, to making life better for others? How are you living your life in such a way that it is not all about your own personal gain? Service to others is the easiest way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, which is directly linked to happiness.
9: To whom do I need to apologize?
Is there someone in your life you have wronged? If yes, then that is an open wound for both parties. Can you step forward to apologize and to find closure before you turn the calendar?
10: Who must I thank, either for forgiveness, or for making a positive difference in my life or in the life of someone I love?
Who in your life deserves your appreciation? If someone has measurably impacted your life in a positive way, it is a gift to both of you to share your gratefulness.
11: For what must I forgive myself?
How have you been punishing yourself? Can you reach a place of self-forgiveness through self-compassion? Can you create a clean slate of self-acceptance?
12: What do I finally need to accept and embrace about myself, rather than seeing it as a weakness?
We are all our own worst critics. This inner critic never serves us. What can you finally accept about yourself, and perhaps even come to love and appreciate? Can you start now?
13: What is one quantum leap forward I have achieved since this time last year? What have you overcome? What have you concluded? What recognition have you earned as a result of hard work? What goal did you meet?
14: What is one accomplished quantum leap forward I will be able to name at this time next year, when I reflect back?
How will you make your mark in the next year?
15: Finally, what is worth smiling about right now, at this precise moment in time?
Right now... at this VERY moment, what three things in your life bring a smile to your face? Now, pause and say thank-you.
I wish you success with your introspection as we move towards the conclusion of 2016.