40 questions to ask yourself every year

I have documented this practice on my blog, but reposting it here because I think this community would enjoy it.

One of my rituals at the end the year is asking myself these forty questions. It usually takes me about a week to work my way through all of them. I find it to be one of the most valuable exercises to reflect on what happened, good and bad, and how I hope the year ahead will shape up.

What is more interesting than each individual answer are the trends that emerge after years of answering the same questions. I’ve shared this list with my family and closest friends, and always enjoy discussing answers as we reflect on the year.

Feel free to add or remove questions, and share your edits! This is first and foremost a personal exercise, so make it a tradition you can enjoy for years to come.

You can find them in Markdown format on Github. You’ll also find my list of questions to ask yourself once a decade :slight_smile:

  1. What did you do this year that you’d never done before?
  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions?
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
  5. What cities/states/countries did you visit?
  6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?
  7. What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  9. What was your biggest failure?
  10. What other hardships did you face?
  11. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  12. What was the best thing you bought?
  13. Whose behavior merited celebration?
  14. Whose behavior made you appalled?
  15. Where did most of your money go?
  16. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
  17. What song will always remind you of this year?
  18. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
  19. What do you wish you’d done more of?
  20. What do you wish you’d done less of?
  21. How are you spending Christmas?
  22. Did you fall in love this year?
  23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
  24. What was your favorite show?
  25. What was the best book you read?
  26. What was your greatest musical discovery of the year?
  27. What was your favorite film?
  28. What was your favorite meal?
  29. What did you want and get?
  30. What did you want and not get?
  31. What did you do on your birthday?
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion this year?
  34. What kept you sane?
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
  37. Who did you miss?
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
  39. What valuable life lesson did you learn this year?
  40. What is a quote that sums up your year?

Is it true we all have a celebrity [or few] that we’re enamoured of, to the enough extent of a considered fancy? :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Thanks for posting. I’m 70+. Wish I had seen this 50+ years ago. Right now, I don’t remember What meal I had yesterday, never mind the best one last year. OH well, I could search at my Zettelkasten!


You would remember if you, when you’re eating it, close your eyes and picture it in your mind [giving attention to all the different details and angles of view] for at least a few days - if not more if you revisited the memory before it decays in the hippocampus.

Something fun and unexpected that came from this post is that folks are now sharing their translations! You can find the 40 questions in Chinese and Spanish by going to the Github repo.

If you’d like to translate the questions into another language, you can submit your translation via pull request. Place the translated files into a folder named using ISO 639-1 two letter language code.

1 Like

this is good. very very helpful. thank you very much for posting!

If anyone is interested in contributing a translation, I would love to get more languages represented. Feel free to submit PRs to the repo or send them to me directly and I will credit you!


Time to repost for 2021!