It's about this time of year when people start wondering what they can do better next year. With a few exceptions, this calendar year's revenue is accounted for, so we turn our attention to next year, determined to beat this year's results.

Reflection is key to this process, as is self-awareness. Ryder Carroll, founder of the Bullet Journal--a popular method of organizing your work and life by writing them down--often talks about the importance of understanding why we're doing something, because it will help motivate us, as well as help determine if we're even heading in the right direction.

Earlier in November, I wrote an article about Carroll and his Bullet Journals. When I shared that article with some friends of mine who were going through this process, it became clear they were willing to ask the tough questions to get to their whys but didn't really know which questions to ask. So we started brainstorming the questions.

If you're struggling to find your why for next year, here are 20 questions to get you started:

  1. What do I enjoy, and what am I good at doing?
  2. What do I enjoy but could get better at doing?
  3. What do I enjoy doing but don't do well at all?
  4. What energizes me?
  5. What tires me?
  6. How much sleep do I need to really function well?
  7. What relaxes me?
  8. What stresses me out?
  9. What distracts me?
  10. What is the most important thing in my life?
  11. Who are the most important people in my life?
  12. How can I be a better friend or colleague?
  13. What do I want more of in my life?
  14. What would I prefer less of in my life?
  15. What am I most afraid of?
  16. What is one good habit that I have?
  17. What is one habit I want to change?
  18. What is one thing I set out to do this year that I succeeded in doing?
  19. How do I define success?
  20. What's the one thing I want to accomplish next year?

Start by answering each of these questions with the first answer that comes to mind. Since they are unique to the person answering them, there is no one right or wrong answer--it's your answer.

At this point, you might start to see a pattern emerging. When I engaged in this exercise last year, I set a goal of adding more teaching to my life, as well as more speaking engagements. I attached a number to those goals. I took the time to answer the why question, which helped motivate me to keep at it every month and find ways to help make my goals a reality. By November, I had met both of my goals, and a big part of the reason was having gone through the exercise and determined my whys.

The idea is to do more things you enjoy next year, and fewer things you don't. You'll be happier, and you'll likely succeed in reaching those goals, since you'll be having fun working toward them.