Don't start the year with resolutions. Start the year with your questions.

Photo by Fidler Jan at

Photo by Fidler Jan at

The marvelous thing about a good question is that it shapes our identity as much by the asking as it does by the answering.
— David Whyte

This year skip the decisions. Skip the resolutions. Don’t resolve, change, vow, promise or start. Don’t start the diet, the exercise program, the life change. Don’t start the beginning of this year with the end—don’t start with a decision.

Start the beginning of this year with a question.  Maybe you already have a question. But if you don’t you can begin with the big “What if’s” in your life—What if I did, or What if I didn’t. What if I said ‘Yes’ or what if I said ‘No.’ What would it look like if I jumped in? What would it look like if I held back? What would it be like if I started something new? What would it be like if I did what I was doing entirely different? Or, what would it be like to really commit to the course I am on? What if I changed? What if I stayed the same?

Let this be the year that you invite your questions. Allow your questions space. Make friends with the questions that have been following you these last few years, tugging at you for your attention. Wishing for you to listen. To understand. To just give them a chance.  

We spend an awful lot of time protecting our old decisions, digging in our heels for old goals that are still tied to old shoulds and oughts. Shoulds and oughts that may or may not even belong to you anymore. Old goals which haven’t been updated or pondered. We protect these old decisions and old goals that desperately need to be asked new questions.

So start this year asking yourself some questions and notice the feelings that come up: maybe a bit of fear, maybe a bit of excitement? Maybe anticipation, freedom, wonder, anxiety? Maybe apprehension, anger, hope, courage? Can you sense a feeling of movement? Can you feel a part of you wake up—take notice—look around? It is actually hard to live in your questions without a feeling of stretching, of possibility, of growth. And please don’t look for answers, or a single answer to these questions. Not yet. Let the answers, the feelings, the possibilities rattle around inside you. Let the questions wash over you. Let the questions walk along side you. Let the questions simply rest next to you or curl up at your feet.

Let the questions, like a seed, grow a bit. Let them extend into the parts of you that need to feel more connected to your values and purpose. Let them extend in to the parts of you that have grown tired of yourself or in to the parts of yourself that you have forgotten. Let the questions inspire and embolden that voice inside that has waiting to be heard for so long—your own voice and not the voice of others.

This year, let yourself, as Rilke says, ”live your questions” and you may find that over this year you will gradually, “without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”  What are your questions?

© 2019 Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD

Some Reading that May Inspire Questions….

Letters to a Young Poet
By Rainer Maria Rilke