7 questions you must ask yourself before you say goodbye to 2021

First question: What or who are you grateful for, right now, in this moment?

No seriously. 

Stop what you’re doing. 

Drop your shoulders. 

Take a deep breath.

Stop reading any further.

And answer this question. 

Got it? Good. 

Now, I have just a few more questions I want you to answer before you close out this year.

Maybe you don’t have time right now. I get it. Too much to do before you sign off for the year and close that laptop. But if you don’t have ten minutes now, save this blog post somewhere easy to access and over the Christmas break, before you meet 2022, take 10 minutes to sit down in a quiet place and jot down your answers. 

Why? Because reflection – that metaphorical pause to take stock every now and again – is really, really good for you. 

So here are 7 questions to ask yourself – and answer – before you say adios to the year that’s been 2021:

  1. What or who are you grateful for, right now, in this moment?

Yup, I’m starting with that one I asked you before. Have you answered it yet?

  1. What strength have you discovered about yourself this year? 

Maybe, like an oyster creating a pearl, something remarkable has come out of grit and the problematic pieces of sand that have made up this year. But here’s the rule when you answer this question: it has to be something GOOD that surprised or delighted you about yourself. Something, even, that said in a small, quiet voice, “Well, I didn’t know you had THAT in you.”  

Now. Pat yourself on the back for that one. Go you good thing. 

And now, because we’re also about balance, here’s my next question for you…

  1. If there was some habit or tendency you’d like to leave behind in 2022, what would it be? 

It might be something that every time you do it, you (afterwards) think, “Shit, there I go again.”

That’s ok. Be kind to yourself as you answer this one. It takes time and many, many times around the same block before we learn. It’s called being human. But what’s one thing you’re willing to keep trying to change for the better in 2022?  

You’ll know by now if you’ve been following me for a while that I couldn’t go a day without music. Read this blog post if you want to know more about that. So, no surprises on this next question for you:

  1. If you had to choose a theme song which lifts you up or has merely kept you sane in 2021, what would it be? 

If you need help and you’re on Spotify, check out “Spotify Wrapped” for inspiration. 

  1. What is something you have read this year that made you think more deeply? 

It might have been something that made you uncomfortable or challenged your thinking. Or taught you something new about leadership. A book that resonated, or forced you to look at things in a new light.

Now, share the love. Pass that onto someone who might benefit from reading it too. 

  1. What is something about yourself that you are finally willing to accept and embrace? 

We all have things that we wish we could change about ourselves – and often accepting those things is what finally gives us some peace. What’s something that you are ready to say “Hey, that’s just part of who I am” and stop trying to change?

And finally,

  1. What’s a phrase or mantra that acted as a useful compass for you in 2021? 

Was there a quote or saying that resonated throughout the year? A phrase that kept you going through the tough times, or a mantra that you lived or led by?

Here are my answers to the questions above, cos hey … I’m not going to ask you to do something I’m not willing to do myself.

What or who are you grateful for, right now, in this moment?

Love. Love has showed up in so many ways in my life this year. Call it compassion, connection, grace. It’s present in my husband, in my three children, in my friends, in all the people I work with. 

And my morning coffee. I am so, so grateful for caffeine. 

And I’m grateful for you, reading this right now. The Leader’s Digest readership keeps growing and I’m super grateful for that 😊

What strength have you discovered about yourself this year?

My empathy. I knew I had this, but I never really knew how important it was for me to tap into empathy in my work. I have become less judgemental and more compassionate. It’s a journey and there’s a long way to go. But I’m choosing empathy over judgement more and more this year. I’m blown away at what magic emerges when I do. 

If there was some habit or tendency you’d like to leave behind in 2022, what would it be?

My need for approval from others to feel good enough. 

I think that one’s going to be a lifelong lesson. 

If you had to choose a theme song which lifts you up or has just kept you sane in 2021, what would it be?

Too hard to pick just one:

Two tracks by Kiwi drum and bass duo Sly Chaos: Right of Way and Run to the Unknown.

The Seed (2.0) by The Roots when I’m over everything.

Anything by Tom Misch. 

What is something you have read this year that made you think more deeply? 

Insight by Tasha Eurich.

Belonging by Owen Eastwood

I wrote it – sorry not sorry – Beyond Burnout. I forget what I wrote and still pick up my book, read a page or two and go, “hey, that sounded ok!”

What is something about yourself that you are finally willing to accept and embrace? 

I fucking love swearing. 

What’s a phrase or mantra that has acted as a useful compass for you in 2021? 

“I could be wrong here.”  I like to think my opinion or world view is right. I dig in, get insistent. And when I do, I stop listening. It shuts down my curiosity. Not much good has ever come from that in my life. 

These questions are just for you, to help you reflect on the year that’s been. But if you feel like sharing any insights that came to you while answering them, feel free to share in the comments. 

5 Comments

  1. Jay Rombach on December 25, 2021 at 4:57 am

    Wonderful article Suzi! Very thoughtful and valuable…thank you!

  2. Christina Wedgwood on December 15, 2021 at 8:52 pm

    I love the use of “I could be wrong here”… This is such a useful one and a great show of intellectual humility.
    I’ve bookmarked this and am going to go through them when I finally get to holiday time (but before the year is out!)

  3. Nicole on December 15, 2021 at 9:28 am

    I really like your answer to number 6 haha, that’s gold!
    Thank you for the insightful blogs, this one really made me think.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  4. Rita Slogrove on December 15, 2021 at 9:19 am

    This is great Suz love the reflection

  5. Richard Brown on December 15, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Thanks Suzi. This made me stop and reflect on a challenging year. Lots of learning. I will keep reviewing and here are a couple of instant answers.
    I am grateful for the love and support I have firm Jane and the family. Thanks
    A strength that I had a feeling about and was confirmed for me during my Dru Yoga teaching assessment was my ability to hold and support my audience.
    Have a lovely Christmas your family.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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