Say goodbye to this year. Say hello to next year.

It’s time for our annual 20 Questions! We re-release it here every New Year’s Eve, and I love hearing how you all use it. After tweaking and adjusting this list for several years, we’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 new year planning, goal-setting, and getting excited about the next twelve months.

But ease your foot onto the brake just for a few days. Give yourself the space and freedom to reflect on the past year.

I’m all for starting a fresh new year, dreaming big, finding that one special word, or whatever helps you clean out the cobwebs in the corners. But all this is much 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.

Whether you’re headed to a party or headed to the living room with a bowl of popcorn, 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 these next 48 hours to reflect on the past 365 days.

New Year's Eve Reflection Questions

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 would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you.
  7. Pick three words your partner would use to describe their year—again, without asking.
  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.

12 Months From Now…

My favorite resource is our free guide to plan for the new year, divided into five categories: Inward Health, Physical Health, Financial Health, Family Health, Relational Health, and Your Children’s Health.

12 Months From Now: Goal-setting questions for the new year

I’ve been working through it all week, and it’s clarified so much of my vision for this next year. I’m stoked.

I’d love to give you a free copy of 12 Months From Now! To get it, simply add your email here, and I’ll send it to your inbox:

(You’ll also get the weekly email 5 Quick Things—you can unsub at any time.)

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

Enjoy your New Year celebrations, friends! We’ll be living it up big-time in our living room with games, movies, and a ball-drop countdown for whoever’s still awake. I’ll see you here in the new year!

XO, Tsh

p.s. – Like this? You’ll probably love Like Your Life.

44 Comments

  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

    Tsh,
    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.
    I wrote about it on my blog, if you are curious to read it: http://www.focusandthrive.com/1/post/2014/01/new-years-practice-do-not-open-until-next-year.html

    • Tamara G. Suttle

      Bummer. This link gets an error message.

      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!
    Caitlin

  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. 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

  35. 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.

  36. Cilla

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

  37. 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.)

  38. 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.

  39. Elaine Turner

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

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