In my last post, I introduced a seven-question system to prepare you for setting clear, compelling goals in 2015. Having covered the first three questions last week, here are the final four.

Setting Clear, Compelling Goals

4) What do you feel that you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
At some point in our careers, we’ve all experienced times, especially if you work for a large organization, that some of your best work goes virtually unnoticed. If so, then you need to build in your own self acknowledgment. Michael Hyatt puts it this way: “If there was an end-of-the-year awards show, what would you be brought up on the stage for… personally and professionally?” For me, this includes recommitting to consistent, weekly blog posts, stepping up to new speaking engagements that required significantly more time commitment, and getting into the best physical shape of my life.

Once again, these positive outcomes are the things you will want to set your goals around.

5) What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
In Jim Collins landmark book, Good to Great, one of the distinguishing traits of great companies is what he identified as the Stockdale Paradox, after Vietnam veteran Admiral Stockdale. When he was interviewed after spending years in a brutal North Vietnamese POW camp, Stockdale said that the men who survived the harsh conditions of imprisonment were those who faced the brutal facts of their existence, but never lost hope. Addressing not only what worked, but also what didn’t work, allows you to confront your past failings and move on. It’s also important to pay attention to patterns in your answers. If the same ones repeat themselves over several years, you may need outside intervention. For example, this could be a personal trainer, marriage counselor, life coach, or another professional who can help you break your pattern.

6) What was missing from the last year as you look back?
Asking this question in this way, rather than framing this question as “what went wrong last year?,” helps prevent you from focusing on regret instead of seeing opportunities for the coming year. Examples include better planning, margin in your life, addressing your physical fitness, etc. The key: Being alert to emerging patterns in your life and trying to embrace those with the greatest potential.

7) What major life lessons did you learn from this last year?
In answering this question, take everything you’ve learned and processed and summarize into a few core life lessons. For example, here are a few of my life lessons:
– The most important priorities in life – marriage, health, relationship with God, personal development – must be contended for. They will not happen by accident.
– When it comes to accomplishing more in life, less is more.
– Never underestimate the importance of a strong marriage.

Asking these seven questions will lay the groundwork for New Years resolutions and/or setting clear, compelling goals in 2015 that will inspire, motivate, and positively change you all year long. Before you start, here are four important reminders:

1) Set aside some secluded, uninterrupted time to develop your thoughts. Don’t rush it!
2) Commit your thoughts to writing. Remember, “Thoughts disentangle themselves passing over the lips and through pencil tips.”
3) There are no right or wrong answers. You don’t need to have three responses for every question – it can be a narrative, bullet points, any way you want – as long as it reflects what you really think.
4) Once you’re done, turn the page, put it in your past, and move forward with setting specific, meaningful goals for the coming year.