The odometer just changed to 2017 and we just made all kinds of resolutions we don’t intend to keep.
By February, you skip the gym, you eat the doughnuts, you forget to go to yoga.
Instead of resolutions for an entire year, how about a few simple questions to ask yourself through the year to stay on course?
Too often we pride ourselves on having the answers, when having the questions might be more valuable.
Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
So here are 12 questions to ask yourself in 2017:
If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, asked himself that question every day. If the answer was no too often, it was time to do something else.
I taped it on a note inside my medicine cabinet. I ask myself that question every morning. Most nights when I see it again, I smile because I lived my “Yes!”
Do you want to be happy?
As soon as I start to feel irritable or restless or cranky or sad, I pause and ask myself, “Regina, do you want to be happy?” Sometimes the answer is no. I want to pout and complain or wallow in sadness. But once I ask that question, I know I’m actively choosing to be unhappy and usually stop.
What part of me is disturbed by this?
My friends in 12-step recovery programs have taught me that anytime I’m emotionally upset by anything, the problem is me. I’ve learned to pause and see what button inside of me just got hit. Then I can respond instead of react.
What can I bring to the occasion?
Instead of thinking what you will get out of this event or situation, focus on what you can bring to it. It might be food or a gift or simply a better attitude.
What can I learn from this?
Everything that happens is our teacher. Cardiologist Terry Gordon wrote in his book “No Storm Lasts Forever” that when his son was left paralyzed from an accident, Terry heard an inner voice say, “Treat this as if you chose it.” The gift? He treasures every moment he has with his son.
What would people who loved themselves do?
I saw this in a blog post by Teal Swan. If you ask yourself this question every day, you’ll get an answer from somewhere deep inside. In time, she wrote, it creates a new way of being where you “live your life in alignment with self love.”
What is the kindest thing to do right now?
To the telemarketer. To the server who forgot your coffee. To the neighbor whose barking dog keeps you awake. Just be kind. It’s not even that hard to do.
Where am I on my own calendar?
If you’re like me, you still buy a paper calendar every year. If you’re like me, you put in ink everything you have to do for others. If you’re like me, you are nowhere on your own calendar. Go get your new calendar and put yourself in it – a hike, a massage, a play date with friends.
What am I grateful for right now?
I once knew an old Amish man who always prayed for a “grateful, humble heart.” “How grateful are you?” Mose Yoder used to ask me. Not grateful enough.
If this situation never changed, what quality would I need to develop to bear it with grace?
My friend Beth taught me that one. The solution isn’t to force our will against life, but to grow when challenged.
How can I be of help?
Instead of doing what makes you feel good, ask. The other person might not want it. If they don’t tell you, offer three things you can do and let them choose.
Finally, at the end of every day, ask yourself this: Did I love?
That’s the measure of a good day and a good life.
Did I love? If the answer is yes at the end of every day, the answer will be yes at the end of your life.
And if you say no, you have the great gift that every new year offers:
Another day to do it better.
Regina Brett is the New York Times bestselling author of God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, which has been published in more than 24 languages. She also wrote, Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible and God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work. Her inspirational columns appear regularly in Ohio’s largest newspaper, The Plain Dealer, where she was a finalist in 2008 and 2009 for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. She also writes for the Cleveland Jewish News and is syndicated by Jewish News Service. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or @ ReginaBrett.com