Putting the past year in perspective can be good preparation for starting the next, writes Jan Aitken.

Well another year is winding down and I find myself wondering where it went. I suspect I'm not alone in that! It's a funny old time of year, there's all the hurly burly of the end-of-year functions and festivities followed by all the promising potential of a new year.

But what sort of new year do you want? It's easy to say, "Oh, next year will bring ..." or "I hope next year is better ..." and then let things drift.

Often we put more energy into planning the two-week Christmas holiday than we do the other 50 weeks of the year. Imagine what we could achieve if we put even a little more planning into those 50 weeks?

I'm not suggesting we plan next year to within an inch of its life and leave no room for spontaneity or time to chill and relax. But do you want a year largely like the year just past? Do you want some aspects to be different and some to remain the same?

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Perhaps it's time for a major overhaul. Whatever you want, the first step is to take a moment to reflect on the year that's been. There's no right or wrong way to do that. Here are a couple of options you might like to try, one or both of them.

Do a round of the "wheel of life" and check where you're at with each of the various parts on it. Then take each part separately and ask the following questions: What's gone well, what's not gone so well? What do you want to be different (if anything) for the coming year?

Try to do your "stocktake" with a sense of curiosity. Be gentle with yourself. Things that haven't gone well aren't failures, they simply provide you with information on what didn't work. Remember, if you want something to be different then you'll have to do something differently. It's been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result!

For the things that have gone well, great. You can tweak them to polish them up a bit more or leave them as they are. If you prefer, check the following questions supplied by "The art of simple" website.

Have some fun with this, you may like to do it with someone.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

3. What was an unexpected joy?

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4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

5. Pick three words to describe this past year.

6. Pick three words your spouse/partner would use to describe your year. Don't ask them; guess based on how you think they see you.

7. Pick three words your spouse/partner would use to describe their past year; again, without asking.

8. What were the best books you read this year?

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December?

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (professionally and home)?

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

17. What was your single biggest time-waster in your life this past year?

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you. You can use your answers to create some goals/intentions for 2017.

Remember though, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is "do the things I want match up with my values?"

For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz
• Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.