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20+ Questions For a New Year

I’ve dusted off and republished this list of 20 reflection questions for the end of a year for ten years now — almost as old as this blog itself. It’s quite fitting that it’s the penultimate post! Here it is again for you to use this year, and the next, and the next, and the next… And check back tomorrow for AoS’ final goodbye post. It’s been an incredible 12 years, and I’m glad for every minute of it. (p.s. I’m not going anywhere.)


It’s time for our annual 20 Questions! I re-release it here around every New Year’s Eve, and I love hearing how you all use it. After tweaking and adjusting this list for several years, I’ve finally settled on a good master list of solid questions to help you reflect on the previous twelve months.

As you end this new year and move on to the next, take some time to review, to contemplate, to meditate. Post-eggnog, it’s easy to speed forward with gusto and juice-cleanse your system from all the holiday indulgence. I’m a future-oriented thinker, so I love planning, goal-setting, and getting stoked about what lies ahead.

But ease your foot onto the brake for a day or two. Give yourself space and freedom to reflect on the past year.

I’m all for starting a fresh new year, dreaming up ideas, finding that one special word, or whatever helps you clean out the cobwebs in the corners. But all this is more meaningful when you remember the bends in the road behind you.

Cup of coffee

Honor the past year by celebrating your joys, mourning your losses, and shaking your head at the wonder of it all. Isn’t it amazing another year has passed? And so the earth goes round and round, about to orbit once more.

Whatever you’re doing to celebrate, New Year’s Eve is a great day for reflection. A whole year has passed since the last one. You’re a year older. Are you a year wiser?

Use your last few hours of the year to reflect on the past 365 days.

20 Questions for New Year’s Eve

  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 this past year?
  4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
  5. Pick three words to describe this past year.
  6. Pick three words your partner or close friend would use to describe your year.
  7. Pick three words your partner or close friend would use to describe their year.
  8. What were the best books you read this year?
  9. Who were your most valuable relationships with?
  10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
  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 (both professionally and at 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 biggest thing you learned this past year?
  20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

Download the 20 questions as a free PDF

👆 Want to journal through these questions alone? Grab a cup of coffee and a pen, and use the space provided in the free download. Or, write your answers in your own journal (that’s what I do).

👆 Want to chat over the answers with your family or friends? Use the last page of the download to cut each question into squares, then toss them in a jar to draw, one at a time.

Questions for Kids!

Do your kids want questions of their own? Pass this along to them for a personal reflection exercise, or cut up the questions, toss them in a jar, and pull them out to answer as a family.

Download the kids’ questions as a free PDF

And, for New Year’s Day…

For years, I used an annual planning guide I created to help me dream about the next 12 months — even though I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of “resolutions,” I still held on to the idea of setting a lofty goal to inspire confidence until the next December.

I don’t prescribe to that anymore. I just don’t find it useful. Instead of inspiring me, it’d make me feel trapped, daunted, or overwhelmed right at the start of a new year when my insides still felt hopeful and refreshed with a new beginning.

Now, I set 90-day goals. It’s a short enough amount of time for goals to feel (and actually be) do-able, which gives that boost I need to still care, keep heart, and course-correct for the following 90 days.

Note: It’s helpful for me to first review, reflect on, and make tweaks to my Rule of Life because it helps me remember what matters to me in the first place. There’s no point in setting goals I don’t actually need or want. (If you’ve never written your own unique Rule of Life, here you go.)

For these 90-day goals, I use what I call Think Days — little gifts I give to myself four times a year. They’re exactly how they sound: they’re days I set aside to do nothing but think. They’re magic.

Instead of a set of daunting annual questions to lead to daunting annual goals, this is simpler, sweeter, and more human. Here are the nine questions I use for my quarterly Think Days:


  • What was the best thing about the past 90 days?
  • What was the biggest challenge?
  • How was life in the realms of work, relationships, money, health, community, and home?


  • What’s something, big or small, that brings pleasure in my life right now?
  • What’s most valuable in my life right now?
  • Is there anything that feels missing in my life right now?


  • How would I like things to be 90 days from now in the realms of work, relationships, money, health, community, and home?
  • How could I create one or two goals* from these desires?
  • 90 days from now, how will I recognize or celebrate my life as it stands?

*Only one or two because if we over-plan here, we hijack our good intentions with a performance-oriented posture about life — an exhausting way to live for anyone. But one or two goals, and goals for only the next 90 days, provides traction and motivation to make helpful changes, one doable step at a time. This brings us closer to who we want to be.

A year from now you will wish you had started today. -Karen Lamb

Every January I also like to re-read some combination of Atomic Habits, Essentialism, and The Simple Path to Wealth. These keep my head screwed on straight when I’m tempted to plan for All The Things at the start of a new year. (Also, here are my favorite books for clear-headedness.)

Enjoy your New Year celebrations, friends! Our usual modus operandi is living it up big-time in our living room with games, movies, and a midnight countdown for whoever’s still awake. You too?

XO, Tsh

p.s. If you’d like to keep up with my writing, podcasting, pilgrimage-leading, and other sundries in my work, make sure to get my free weekly email called 5 Quick Things, where I share five things from the week i either created or loved.

Reading Time:

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  1. Maggie

    Ah, a good reminder. I feel like I slam straight into achieving all my goals rather than stopping to just breathe and reflect.

  2. Steph

    Great questions! And I love the addition of the kid’s questions. This has been an absolutely packed year of many changes for us so the reminder to stop and reflect is a much needed one.

  3. Amy Suardi

    Important reminders, Tsh, to stop and reflect instead of barging ahead. I’ve printed these out and will bring them to a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve party. Thank you for putting this together in a beautiful and practical way!

  4. Faigie

    This is a tough list. It means I would actually have to sit down and think. 🙂

  5. Caitlin

    Thanks for these reflection questions, Tsh. I will definitely use both the adult and kid questions (my son is 4.5) over the next couple of days just to give our family a time to talk about the year that is coming to an end. I will try to remember to come back to this conversation to share the results. Happy New Year! Caitlin

  6. Lori Ann

    Yesterday I printed your 2010 download, but now I printed the kids questions and CAN’T WAIT! for the 2014 hopes and dreams download. Thank you! it has become a great tradition.

  7. Jennifer

    As I commented last night, I love your end of year & new year thought prompts! My husband, newly one year old son, and I are completing day 15 of a holiday road trip and we enjoyed going thru these together (though son slept!).

  8. Melanie

    Thank you for these questions! We have done them the past 2 years, and it’s always a positive experience. I think reflecting is important in order to learn and remember.

  9. Renee P.

    I was hoping you would put this list up today! My hubby and I now have our date-night dinner conversation plan!
    I’m curious to see how the questions go for the kids… (two boys, ages 4 and 5.5)

  10. Katy

    Wonderful reminder to reflect before racing into the year ahead. Thank you.

  11. Janis@Our ING Life

    What a great idea! We’ll be skipping the big party hupla tomorrow and spending a quiet evening in……think this is the perfect accompaniment to a fire and hot chocolate.

  12. Tiffany

    I love these questions. It seems so easy to put the previous year into a good/bad box. This is a great chance to think about it, appreciate it, and think about the coming year, as well.

  13. elizaebeth

    Thanks so much for the post. It was a great way to think back on the year. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s as a party day, but I like the idea of using it to plan for a better next year!

  14. Betsy

    I love your questions, Tsh. The last few Decembers I write up a quick summary of the year: blessings, lessons learned, but I haven’t taken time to do it this year, but this post from yesterday and today’s post are reminding me that January won’t be too late! I plan to use some of your questions over family dinner tonight.

  15. Kirsten

    Thank you for this–I do some reflecting, but this list goes above and beyond. I appreciate it!

  16. Liz D

    Thank you so much for posting this list again. I actually was thinking of this and hoping I could find last year’s post because I really enjoy and need this reflection. Thank you for reposting!

  17. Samara Serotkin

    Thank you so much for sharing this tradition. I’ve completed your worksheets the past three years and had an epiphany this time! For the last 3 years, the hardest thing I have experienced has also been the thing I was most grateful for. What a lovely reminder of the transformative power of difficult experiences.

    • Tamara G. Suttle

      Love the list you’ve provided for us! Appreciate your focus on self-reflection!

  18. Gervy

    Really useful questions. Thank you.

  19. Caitlin

    Hi again,
    So, I’ve asked my son a couple of the questions that you provided and got some really cute and memorable answers. I decided to buy a journal to record his responses each year. Hope I remember to do it each year! Also, I’ve used the questions for adults you provided this year and last and really appreciate how well it gets me to think of “the big picture” and starting DREAMING BIG! Thanks again Tsh!

  20. Tamara

    Hi there! This is a wonderful idea. I hope you don’t mind that I featured you in my blog. You are worthy of the recognition and the share. Thank you for the inspiration.

  21. Bind My Wandering Heart

    Love this list! Thank you. And thank you for this blog, such an amazing source of encouragement. Happy New year to you all!

  22. Prerna Malik

    Tsh, thank you so much for sharing these again.. I think I’d downloaded last year’s from here as well and both the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s ones are perfect for helping us plan a year of intentional growth and reflect on the past year with gratitude, for the good and the not-so-good:)

    Happy New Year to you and the family.. Excited to see what 2015 holds for AoS 🙂

  23. Chris C.

    I Wonder if it sounds weird to say I’d like to become more intentional this year. Does that make sense? I spend so much time with things happening to me versus doing things. I can’t grow like this and I’m nowhere near performing to my potential. That I even speak of it is a little step forward. Thanks for facilitating that. Happiest of New Years to you.

  24. Gail

    Thank you for providing pdf format of your good questions. I need time to reflect on 2014 and your ?s were exactly the guide I needed to get 2014 in perspective and now move on

  25. Troy

    I so feel like wife in our relationship sometimes. I discovered your blog in August and it just spoke to me. I am constantly forwarding my wife your posts. This one is no exception. I am big on year end review. John Piper says each new year we get to practice death. I like thought, because on Jan 1, we are usually still alive and get to try again. Happy new year to you and your family.

  26. AmyT

    My partner and I did this together today. Made us think some for sure. Thanks!

  27. Kimberly Locke

    We’re bringing this to a family dinner tomorrow, and I’m adding the question, “If you could magically gain a skill or talent in 2016, what would you choose?”

    I would become a master knitter who can play the guitar. 🙂

  28. Happy New Year Eve

    It is true that last night of the year will not come again. So we have to enjoy the day and remember til the next New year. Making New year revolution to make life more meaningful.

  29. Rajesh Rajput

    its True Great questions. Thank you

  30. Victor Noah

    Thanks for this inspiring article! Do have a successful weeks ahead.

  31. Alyson Simons

    We absolutely love this list of questions to reflect on before you starting thinking about the year to come. We love them so much we are going to include them in our last #bebetter52 challenge of the year. With each completed challenge money is donated to Every Mother Counts. We would love for you to share this with your audience. Thanks again.

  32. Autumn

    Ah thanks so much Tsh! I was just thinking about what my last blog post should be about and I believe you have just given me an outline! Happy New Year!

  33. CJ

    Yes! Great questions. Thanks for including the kids. Much needed time of reflection. The years come and go so fast at times that we don’t realize how much we change and transition in so many ways in many different areas of our lives.

  34. Emily at The We Files

    How fun, Tsh! I think I’ll go over these questions with the husband tomorrow and record our answers! Peace and cheers to everyone as they celebrate!

  35. Clair

    Fantastic idea The. The questions are a great way to reflect on what has happened in the last 12. I hope to live the next 12 in such a way that I will be happy with my answers at the next 20 question time

  36. Crystal

    Honestly, your book was one of my favorite reads this year as well as “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker. And there were many more on homeschooling and simplifying life. I’m so happy we’re all in this together – helping others achieve freedom through simplicity. Happy New Year to you and your family. Much Love.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thank you so much.

  37. Cilla

    This will be my second year going through these reflective questions. Love it! Thank you.

  38. Caitlin

    What is the typeface used for the Karen Lamb quote in orange? It is beautiful!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      It’s called Playfair, in italics. It’s the same font we use for our post titles on AoS here! 🙂 (I love it, too.)

  39. Leah

    We so enjoyed talking through these as a family! Also can’t wait to dig into the new year guide. Do you have other audio resources you have loved on faith/ family/ marriage (either podcasts or books on tape)? We have a long drive coming up (sans kids!) and hoping to use the time well. Thanks so much Tsh. Loving your materials, resoures and perspectives.

  40. Elaine Turner

    Great questions. Love the idea of reflecting on last year before jumping into the new year! Thanks!

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