Smarter goals start with better self-reflection. This exercise can help you assess what’s truly important and authentic to you. It can help you tap into your motivators so when goals get tough you can persevere.

Here are seven questions I recommend we each ask ourselves:

What were moments of greatest joy and fulfillment? This is a great question to start with as it puts us in a positive and appreciative state of mind. It helps us reflect on what is good in our lives as well as gives us insight on what’s fulfilling to us. As we reflect on the people and activities that brought us this fulfillment we learn about what energizes us in both our personal and professional lives. We may find clues to our leadership purpose within what serves others while also energizing us. We remind ourselves about what we want more of in the coming year.

What was challenging? As we reflect on the challenges we faced, we can remind ourselves that life doesn’t always bring us what we desire. We also remind ourselves that we can be resilient in the face of challenge. Our taking time to acknowledge challenges can also help unlock difficult emotions which we may have avoided. As we process this emotion, we recognize that some of our best qualities of courage, perseverance, patience, selflessness, grace, and strength are borne out of challenge. Without those challenges we wouldn’t be who we are today. This question helps us notice and honor our qualities of character, celebrate who are becoming, and be more grounded in values that are important to us.

How did I do on my goals? As you assess how you did, pay attention to what your strengths are that helped you accomplish your goals. For goals you didn’t meet, what did you learn?

How satisfied am I with different aspects of my life? For most of us a full and balanced life includes the following: our health and well-being, relationships, professional or career growth, financial priorities, spiritual or personal growth, community service. As you examine each area that is important to you, look at what’s working well and what do you want more of?

Who are the people and relationships that matter? Sometimes in our pursuit of goals, we don’t pay attention to the people and relationships that matter. This question is to help us step back and be more intentional about the attention and presence we want to bring to the relationships that matter most. What are the practices and habits that we want to establish to nurture these relationships?

When am I my most inspired selfWhen do I feel disempowered? This question is about getting to know ourselves in our most inspired moments (What am I doing? Who am I being?). It’s also about bringing awareness to when we are our smallest selves. It’s about having compassion for ourselves when we are least empowered, so we can face important truths about our lives.

As I imagine myself as an 80-year old looking back at a life well-lived what do I see? This is a great question to examine our longer-term priorities, values, and goals. As I do this exercise every year, I find it fun to go back and see what’s changed and what’s remained constant in my vision of my best self.

As you look back through your answers, jot down what you’ve learned from this self-reflection. What’s important as you set goals for the upcoming year? What other questions have you found useful for your self-reflection?

Stay tuned for my personal 2017 self-reflection and how it’s helped me set smarter goals for 2018!