As we near the end of another year, it always helps to regroup and take a moment to reflect on the previous 12 months before we find ourselves in 2012. If I were writing this into a preschool TV script, I would simplify it as something like, “Stop, Think and Act.” We do this in so many aspects of life—driving, ordering at a restaurant, deciding on the appropriate school for our kids. But when it comes to ourselves, what we’ve learned from our experiences, how our life is going and the direction we’d like to go in the future, we rarely follow this directive.

The fact is, most people don’t really strategically plan their lives. Sure, they’ll contemplate accepting a job offer, where to live or which events to attend, but when it comes to actually setting up logical steps and moving forward on one’s own life path, most just spontaneously react to whatever life throws their way. And the old cliché, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” applies here as well.

So as we get ready to close on another year, take a moment to assess a few areas in your life. I have honestly filled a ridiculously large number of notebooks over the years doing this following exercise to stay focused and on course. Call me type A, but it really does work! Whether you’d like to focus on friendship, love, work or school, there are a few questions to consider:

What would make you the happiest—emotionally AND physically? Don’t worry about how to acquire such things at this stage of the process—simply make a list of all the things that would bring you joy in 2012.

Does your life right now involve any of the elements listed above? If not, what adjustments can you make to incorporate these things into your life?

What would life be like if you were to apply these adjustments/changes?

What can you realistically do to make this goal more attainable?

Who is your support team? How can they assist you in achieving this goal?

Are you ready to make yourself and your goals a priority? Keep in mind that while it’s important to assist and support others, the care of yourself is instrumental in achieving any of your personal

As you work toward reaching your goals, be sure to embrace your achievements along the way—these will keep you motivated to keep moving forward.

This exercise is a great way to wrap up the year and start to look forward to the coming one. It can help you get 2012 started off on the right foot.