Asking the right questions to make 2016 sparkle: Physician Coaching for everyone

The first day of the year was filled with delights.  A chance encounter with
Polar bear clubthe brave members of the Polar Bear Club of San Diego as they ran into the Pacific Ocean for their annual dip (cold, though not as frigid as Lake Michigan, where those dedicated Polar Bear members in Milwaukee, where I grew up, plunge themselves into!).  Walking by an English bulldog named Einstein, who HappyNewYearDogbroadcast to all passersby his best wishes for 2016.  And mostly, a wonderful conversation with a dear friend about the power of our questions. In many ways, the success and richness of our life depends on the questions we ask ourselves.  When we do something we’re unhappy with, usual questions such as, “How could I have been so foolish to have done that?”  aren’t as helpful as, “What need or desire in me triggered that action?”  Instead of becoming critical of ourselves when we are struggling with something or haven’t produced our best work, we might ask, “What part of me is asking for support or nurturing?”

As we begin a new year, I hope you’ll find these questions helpful in harvesting the learning from 2015 and putting it to use in creating a year that reflects who you are and stretches you in exciting ways.

  • Who did I meet last year that is now in my life? What do I value about this relationship?  What does this say about what I want more of in my life?
  • What emotion really caused me to grow?
  • In what ways am I different than I was at the beginning of last year? What does this make possible in my life?
  • What did I do that completely surprised me?  What does this tell me about myself that I didn’t appreciate before?
  • What is the biggest challenge I faced? What internal strengths and external factors were helpful?
  • In what area(s) of my life did I really make some progress? What more do I want to do?  What would surpass all of my hopes?
  • Whom did I really help?  How did that benefit me, as well as the other person?
  • What were the most fun times I had?  What made them so joyful?
  • What am I most grateful for?
  • A year from now, how do I want my life to be the same? How do I want it to be different? What do I need to do or change for that to happen?


Wishing you 366 days of life, fully lived, moment-by-moment.


About Helane Fronek

Over the past 28 years I have had a fascinating and fulfilling career in medicine, initially practicing as a general internist and then as a procedural specialist, caring for patients with vein disorders. As Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UC- San Diego School of Medicine, I’m thrilled to be teaching medical students crucial communication skills along with many other aspects involved in the practice of medicine.
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4 Responses to Asking the right questions to make 2016 sparkle: Physician Coaching for everyone

  1. eldersurf says:

    Dear Helane,

    I wanted to wish you Happy New Year especially. I am happy for our brief interaction and for the value you bring to our medical community. I retired this past August and am enjoying it after 51 years in medicine.

    Best regards,


    Sent from my iPad


    • Dear Bob,
      How wonderful to hear from you! I’m so glad to know that you are enjoying your retirement as much as you enjoyed practicing medicine (maybe more?). Best wishes to you in the New Year and beyond!
      Warm regards,

  2. drtarte911 says:

    Dear Dr.Helane mam,

    You are a great Philosopher! First of all I wish all the Physicians of this community on wordpress “A very happy,healthy,peaceful & sparkling New year-2016”!

    As per “Gregarian calender” followed all over the World,we entered into 2016 AD but if you consider age of our Mother Earth-4.5 billion yrs and Age of our Known Universe or Cosmos-14 billion yrs; its just negligible and makes counting of yrs negligible…

    Present human civilisation and Homo-Sapiens species evolved through many such yrs of 365 days to present “Ultra-modern period” in human history.

    Time is countless and infinite if you calculate “Distance between Planets,Stars & Galaxies” in Light years. We are “miniscule idiots” in the history of Universe.

    As Bulldog named “Eienstein” rightly said Time bends like Curve at horizon and we travel at the speed of light in space; we will never become old.Age remains same. .

    Also,I appriciate your philosophy of “Vigorous self introspection and expectations from days to come”. In Marathi Literature our 16th Centuary Spiritual leader and Saint “Tukaram maharaj” narrated concept of “Tuka mhane,hoy manashi samvad,Aapalachi vad apanashi. . .!” Means- we fight with ours good and bad minds thinking in everyday without questioning ourselves whether its good or bad..

    Yes,we must question ourselves before retiring to bed,is it day fullfilled with joy and is their any guilt in my mind??

    Wish you Happy and Spiritualy great year ahead!!

    -Dr.Mangesh Tarte,MD,FVIR,MACPh

    • Dear Mangesh,
      Thank you for your note and for sharing your thoughts about time and introspection. Einstein did show us that time is a curve, didn’t he? Thank you also for your good wishes for the community. May you have days filled with joy and nights free of guilt!
      Warm regards,

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