Let’s back up a bit. 2020 taught many of us valuable lessons and prompted a list of questions I wanted to continually ask myself in 2021. I did okay, they were vague and mostly floated around in my head. But then as 2022 started to unfold I was ready commit and live by these lessons.

One particular lesson encouraged all others to take root and that was to slow down. Okay, maybe slowing down was slightly (en)forced through COVID and experiencing an actual lockdown, but it helped me to realize how often I’m ruminating over the past and anxiously anticipating the future, while feeling overwhelmed and zoned out of the present.

This awareness inspired me to take a breather and do much needed reflection. Question my thoughts, emotions, and actions and be the boss of my mind. Be the boss of me.

I came up with a list of 22 questions to help me practice the pause, stay present, be mindful, and live authentically and deliberately. My goal – to stimulate more personal growth this year by analyzing my thoughts with a more inquisitive approach that helps me build a better mindset to build a better life.

  1. Is this productive?

If my actions and thoughts aren’t producing constructive and rewarding results, then stop and redirect my focus and energy. Unproductive thoughts kill dreams. Unproductive actions destroy goals. Unproductive mindsets steal souls. Unproductive busyness depletes me.

  1. Does it or they nourish my soul?

Unhealthy and toxic situations, relationships, conversations, groups, gatherings…gotta go. Seek more opportunities for connections that cultivate community and what I’m passionate about and dive in.

  1. Who’s in control of me and my choices?

Me! I choose my thoughts. I choose my problems. I choose my happiness. I choose my suffering. I choose my perspective. I choose my gratitude. I choose my complaints. I choose my mood. I choose my choices. I do not choose the consequences. I reap what I sow.

  1. Is that my inner voice or inner critic?

My inner critic is self-loathing, doubtful, and demeaning and doesn’t deserve the mic. My inner voice is my mentor. She speaks truth, wisdom, love, and empowerment. Listen and allow her to guide me.

  1. Is this a genuine or superficial relationship?

Social media and our increasing social circles make it easy to have faux connections. I can connect loosely to everyone while connecting deeply to no one and that is not who I am. Scrolling and commenting does not create meaningful relationships. Seek and engage in real and significant connections.

  1. Are my boundaries in check?

Set appropriate limits. No is a complete sentence. No more guilty compliance. Ask for what I need. Evaluate one-sided relationships. Mind my own business. Recognize and deny control and manipulation. Support others without shouldering their problems or being responsible for them. Be responsible for me. Do not overextend and deplete myself for others at my own expense.

  1. Got gratitude?

Complaining is a thoughtless, self-centered bad habit. It drains me and everyone around me. Practice being habitually grateful rather than a constant joy suck. The sun, my favorite people, books, good food, running, deep breaths, water, the sound of my kids laughing, the feel of my husband’s arms wrapped tightly around me, God waking me up every day…I’m grateful. And if I must complain – do something to solve the complaint!

  1. Am I reacting or responding?

When I react impulsively others control me. When I respond, I am in control. My emotions don’t cause problems, but how I express them can, and damnit, you win when I explode and I’m not giving anyone that power over me.

  1. Am I being/portraying my authentic self?

Live with integrity according to my own spirit, character, and personality. Remain truthful to me, to who I was created to be. Anything else is a lie. Be independent enough to believe in myself and my values and live in line with those beliefs and values. Every.Single.Day.

  1. Real or filtered?

Comparison kills confidence and contentment. We live in a filtered world tailored to a perfection that does not exist. We display only what we want others to see, and we see only what others choose to reveal. Remember that.

  1. WWJD?

Christ is my savior. The only reliable source of love and truth. Study Him, know Him, live through Him. Be accountable to Him. My peace is His presence. His presence is my peace.

  1. Am I respecting myself and others?

Honor my value and worth. Honor others value and worth. Every beating heart has value and is worthy of respect.

  1. Does this bring me peace and contentment?

To be and feel whole is to be free from constantly chasing the trappings of the world whether material or emotional. My life doesn’t need to be free of pain, struggle, and sorrow to be satisfying. All my wants do not need to be met to feel complete. The most important things in my life already exist. I can change my life by changing my mindset.

  1. Is exposure to this healthy or unhealthy?

Is exposing myself to this content influencing me to be a more loving and compassionate person? Hate begets hate. Anger begets anger. Envy begets envy. Comparison begets comparison. Shame begets shame. Exposure to people, environments, the media, photos, anything, is only beneficial if my life is enriched by it. Kindness begets kindness.

  1. What are my values?

A few of my core values are honesty, respect, trust, kindness, accountability, integrity, responsibility, faithfulness, and authenticity. Whatever I say, do, plan, strive for, work towards, or hope for – know my intent, be certain it holds significance, is in alignment with my morals, and serves a justly cause.

  1. Am I showing up for and serving the people that matter most to me?

Do not waste precious time and imprison my attention and energy on frivolous tasks that don’t impact and improve the lives of myself and those I care about. Heal to serve and serve to heal.

  1. Do I need to forgive?

Forgive myself first to forgive others. Forgiveness does not excuse mistreatment, rather frees me from it. Forgiveness is letting go, moving on, and releasing myself from pain and suffering. Forgiveness releases me from being imprisoned by others and allows grace to flow freely. Forgiveness only takes one person – me. Forgiveness is freedom.

  1. Am I growing?

A continual atmosphere of growth brings a sense of internal gratification and fulfillment. Continually challenging myself, reinventing goals, learning new things, taking risks, moving forward through fear, and exploring new territory keeps me growing and enjoying the journey while continuously creating new destinations.

  1. Am I loving myself well?

It’s an inside job and no one’s responsibility but my own. When I love myself, I love the person I’m always with and there is no getting away from me. To love others the way they deserve, I must first love myself in a healthy and humble way. It is when my heart is full of self-acceptance that it can spill out onto others.

  1. Am I taking responsibility for myself?

Take responsibility and ownership for my thoughts, words, actions, problems, and behaviors and the effects they have on my well-being and the well-being of those around me. No blaming, being a coward and succumbing to victimhood. The only failure is failing to take ownership.

  1. Am I managing my fixer?

Am I taking on other people’s problems as my own to fix? Am I giving unsolicited advice? Empower and guide others to fix themselves, their problems, and create the life they want.

  1. What is my purpose?

No really, why am I on Earth? I was created for a purpose. I was born to give. I was given a mission to fulfill. I was meant to live a legacy and leave a legacy. Define it. Embrace it. Be it.