New year, new you — right? While there’s no “right” opportunity to plan for the future, the days leading up to the new year are an ideal time to plant the seeds for something new for the next 365 days.

But don’t discard the past entirely. You might want a “new you,” but you don’t need to reinvent yourself because the calendar changed. Digging through the gems (and the dirt) of the last year can actually help you envision a brighter future for 2023.

There’s a lot said about how many people have trouble keeping New Year’s resolutions. From my experience, resolutions aren’t always well thought-out. They’re often vague (e.g., get healthy, quit smoking, learn a new skill, be more creative) and often made without much forethought, maybe even on New Year’s Eve.

Yes, some people can adopt a new habit or leave an old one behind easily. But they’re usually the exception rather than the rule. Without knowing what’s worked for you in the past and what you’re excited for in the future, those new plans might not stick. (Equally important is knowing how to set goals, too.)

To plan ahead, it helps to take a look back first. The questions below will help you do both. Write your answers down in your day planner or wherever you can refer back to them. Use all of the questions, or just the ones that speak to you*. Let your answers act as your compass throughout the new year.

(*What if planning for the new year doesn’t feel available to you right now? Maybe this year has been tough to get through, and you’re not even sure what the near future holds for you. Nothing says that you have to do your planning at the start of the new year. Keep these questions for a later date, if that makes more sense right now. However, if you’re in the process of making sense of a difficult year, consider starting with the first 11 questions. And if you’d rather forget that 2022 ever happened, skip ahead to the second half of the list. Or use this list to inspire your own questions, so you can define the path forward on your own terms.)

Look back: A closer glimpse at 2022

an old optometrist sign

Use these questions to look back on the past year with a clear head, and don’t hold back from celebrating your achievements.

1. What were your top 5 moments of 2022?

2. What were your top 3 accomplishments of 2022?

3. What lessons did you learn this year?

4. What did you differently in 2022 compared to other years?

5. What did you like doing the most?

6. What did you like doing the least?

7. What challenges did you face this year, and how did you overcome them?

8. What did you have too much of this year?

9. What did you have too little of?

10. What was “just right”?

11. What were you most grateful in 2022?

Leap forward: Into the bright promise of the new year

Slip of paper reading Rebirth is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it

These questions are designed to help you look forward, now that you know what did and didn’t work over the past year. Tip: Let yourself dream big with these questions.

12. What do you want more of in 2023?

13. What do you need less of in 2023?

14. What habits, experiences, mindsets, and/or lessons from 2022 do you want to carry into 2023?

15. What will you do differently in 2023?

16. What matters most to you right now?

17. What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

18. What would your ideal future look like at the end of 2023?

19. What are some steps you can take to make this ideal future a reality?

20. What are your top priorities, to-dos, or goals for 2023?

21. Of the above list of goals and priorities, which ones are the most exciting to you? (Hint: Those are where you should probably focus your attention in the new year!)

22. What three to five adjectives would you want to use to describe the you of the upcoming year?

23. What is your single, overarching objective for 2023?

Everything you need to plan for the new year

Last year, I released the first issue of The Muse Manifesto, my digital zine for creatives. Issue 1 dives into planning your bold year of creativity and features:

  • A guide to writing your creative manifesto
  • 9 signs it’s time for a social media detox
  • A simple ritual to release limiting beliefs
  • An easy morning routine for anyone who isn’t a morning person
  • 12 reading recommendations for creative inspiration
  • What to include in a bullet journal
  • How to synch your creativity with the phases of the moon
  • Tarot spreads and spells for the new year
  • And more!

The list of questions in this post is an update to the list that appears in the zine. Get your copy of The Muse Manifesto issue 1 (and check out the shop while you’re there).

Here’s to your bright, bold, creative future in 2023!