Arment Dietrich

Seven Questions to Reflect On In the New Year

By: Arment Dietrich | September 15, 2010 | 

Guest post by Abbie S. Fink, vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations.

As Jewish people around the world welcome the year 5771, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with the readers of Spin Sucks seven questions to reflect on in the New Year.

I know, I know, it’s September. But the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, took place last week. The High Holidays, the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), give us a time to reflect on the past year, take stock of what we have accomplished, where we fell a little short, and to ask for forgiveness for our sins.

In thinking about what to write for this guest post, I was reminded of the sermon my Rabbi gave last year at this time. He talked about the book, “The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven” by Dr. Ron Wolfson (affiliate link). According to Wolfson, when you get to heaven, you’ll be asked seven questions about how you lived your life on Earth.

I’m not here to debate the existence of heaven (or the other more fiery location) but rather to ruminate on these types of questions and how you might answer them in the here and now. And since the New Year, no matter what version you celebrate, offers a time for reflection, let’s consider those seven questions.

Were you honest? In all your dealings, both personally and professionally, did you act honestly and ethically? Did you remember that the person sitting across from you is a human being with feelings? Did you treat others with dignity and did you make decisions that you can be proud of?

Did you leave a legacy? What are some adjectives that you would like people to use when they describe you? Yes, it may be important to leave a financial legacy, but a personal legacy has a bigger effect.

Did you devote time to study? Sure, reading blogs like this one and glancing through newspapers and magazines counts as “study.” But did you take the time to study something new, just for yourself? Basket weaving, cooking, snorkeling, you name it – do something good for you?

Did you have hope in your heart? The first three questions are about what you “did;” this one is about attitude. Yes, the stress of life can get in the way – tough economic times, illness, whatever. But can you still look at the world with hope and anticipation?

Did you get your priorities straight? A very personal question indeed. We all have our own priorities, and I’d suggest that getting them “straight” varies from day-to-day. So whatever matters most to you, be sure to give it the attention it deserves.

Did you enjoy your life on Earth? Have you done or tried to do at least one thing you’ve always wanted to do? What might that be? Can you make it happen?

Were you the best you could be? Most of us are too busy living our lives to take the time to reflect. But go ahead and give yourself the time and ask yourself are you the best you that you could be? Did you exceed your own expectations?

Because it is a New Year for some us, it’s a great time for all of us to answer these seven questions, make any changes, and see what’s in store for the rest of 2010 (or 5771).

Abbie S. Fink is vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations, a full-service marketing communications and public relations agency based in Phoenix. Known for asking a lot of questions, she’s still trying to figure out the answers.

  • Well done. It’s all about just being a good person.

  • I was about to check my flux capacitator when I saw the title of this post, Abbie – glad I clicked on through 😉

    You’re so on the money with each point. My grandfather was the most important person in my life, and he helped shape anything I am (or may be to others) today.

    One thing he ingrained into me – it doesn’t matter what others do; but it makes all the difference what YOU do.

    I’ve tried to live to that mantra since I was a teen. I may not always succeed, but when I do slip, I’ll make sure I try twice as hard not to the next time.

    Thanks for a very personal and thought-provoking post.

    • Danny, LOL! When I read the post before it was scheduled to publish, I did the same thing. Uh…Abbie? It’s only September. 🙂

      The mantra that I’ve always lived (thanks to my mom who STILL says this) is, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” Even though it ends with a preposition, you get the point. And it goes exactly to what you’re saying here, my Abbie friend.

      • Gini, I think it’s okay to end with a preposition when writing conversationally in this medium. Nancy’s rules, I guess. 😉

        Abbie, GREAT post. Everything you’ve said makes perfect sense.

  • Integrity and authenticity, you are only as good as your word. And when you do fall short, come clean – people can be very forgiving.

    Danny, no flux capacitor required here. I’ve always been appreciative of another opportunity to take a look at what I’ve accomplished and what’s still to come.

    Gini — I’ve always been a believer in standing for something and be proud of it. Your mom is right.

  • CyndeC

    These are great things of which to be cognizant. Fantastic guiding principles when making decisions professionally – at work and as a volunteer. No matter what your title or salary, your integrity has the greatest worth. Thank you so much for sharing, Abbie.

  • Abbie – couldn’t agree more, but I would add an eighth question: Are you having fun? My mantra (and this is framed on my office wall) is “If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?” Happy New Year!

  • I LOVE this post! This goes straight to the heart of what really matters. And I am so glad to see hopeful hearts stated as a life priority! I am printing it out pronto and forwarding it on. L’Shanah Tovah, Abbie!

  • Definitely puts things in perspective. I like having these kinds of goals for a new year…Jewish or not! Happy New Year Abbie

  • Ron’s work– these questions in particular– has been an influence on me personally for many years. Reading his questions in a business forum made me realize I can contextualize them in such a way that they also apply to me professionally.

    I believe it’s critical for us to check in on ourselves and on our businesses more than once a year when annual reports are due. Thanks, Abbie, for the reminder that there are several ways to define “new year.”

    • Kris — those questions can be applied to so many things and I’d guess they will take on different meanings depending on where you are at in your life.

  • I always welcome a fresh approach to our world of communications, marketing and social media blog posts:) – thank you for mixing it up a bit!

    I was raised to follow The Golden Rule – “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”

    This was taken to new heights in college as my fraternity, Sigma Chi – yes, there was more than just partying going on:) – had a long statement that I’ll paraphrase as the following “when I’m on my death bed looking back over my life I will be at peace knowing that I have fought the good fight, done good unto others, and my legacy will live on through those I have touched.”

    What a great reminder for us all…thanks again Abbie!

    • Matt — thank you for joining in the conversation. Where did you go to college? I was a little sister to Sigma Chi (back when they did that) at Arizona State.

      • Hi Abbie – I was a Sigma Chi at Drake University. We had “little sisters” as well…so you’re not that old:). Glad to be a part of the conversation!

  • What an absolutely wonderful and inspiring post, Abbie – thank you! As other commentators have noted already, you have prompted us to consider what is truly important in our lives, both personally and professionally.

    What I especially like about these questions is that they are based in the future. That is, they are asking us to reflect on what we are doing now or want to do in the future, per se. Rather. they ask us to throw ourselves into the future and answer the questions from a different perspective: “DID you do a, b and c?” That angle forces us to imagine what it would be like for us to look back and answer for our actions, not just our intentions. And that perspective demands that we accept responsibility for what we have done or have not done well. What contributions DID you make to the world, not what contributions do you hope to make?

    Outstanding post, Abbie. I believe you will be able to look back at some future date and be able to say “I helped many of my colleagues lead happier, healthier and more productive lives.”

    Shana Tova – may you be inscribed for blessing.


    • Roger – to have helped my friends would indeed be my answer to the legacy question.

      And to you and yours, “G’mar hatima tova.” “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”