Make the Most of the Last 365 days
This Year-In-Review will help you reflect on your year
How would you describe your 2019 in one word?
I posted this question on social media recently and was surprised by the responses it received. The answers ranged from ‘overwhelming’ and ‘anxious’ to ‘evolving’ and ‘changing’, to ‘activating’ and ‘awakening’ - and just about everything in between.
It seems that this year, maybe more than most, people have gone through a lot. I know I have...
What surprised me more than the themes of the answers was how many people appreciated the opportunity to reflect.
Life is busy, and for so many of us, it feels like we’re constantly being pulled in a million different directions. The challenge is that we get so busy reacting to everything that’s going on in our lives that we forget to reflect and be intentional about how we really want to be living our lives.
I invite you to take a few minutes to step back and reflect on 2019: what it brought you and what it taught you. Not only can this reframe your perspective on the year (especially if it’s been a tough one - ahem); it can also create more positive momentum to kickstart 2020.
This activity will be much more useful if you answer these questions in a journal where you can really dive in and reflect. Also having a reminder that you can refer to throughout the year helps you stay on track since the best intentions at the start of the year can easily be forgotten when life happens...
Let’s get started!
What are your favorite memories?
Let’s start with an easy one! Your favorites might come to mind immediately - awesome! One of my favorite activities this time of year is to grab a cup of coffee and go back through all my pictures from the year. It inevitably reminds me of so many of those small, precious moments that end up as competing for ‘best of’ along with some of the bigger, more obvious memories like vacations or celebrations.
What personal achievements are you most proud of?
What did you accomplish this year that you’re proud of?
And, for those of you who just read this question and immediately felt a twinge of shame that you didn’t do anything worthy of being proud of, I call BS on that right now.
Yes you did. I know you did.
In my experience, often the things we’re actually the most proud of aren’t necessarily the things that look the best on paper (or on social media...) like new jobs or new cars.
Our biggest personal accomplishments, the things we did that actually make us feel most proud of ourselves, usually come from hard fought battles with our own demons.
Things like, finding the strength to walk away from bad habits or bad relationships. Choosing to prioritize self-care over self-guilt. Learning to appreciate, rather than admonish, the person in the mirror.
A few achievements I’m proud of:
- Stopping drinking in March because I just didn’t like my relationship with alcohol
- Achieving a new depth of self love - I’ve learned it really is possible to talk to myself nicely
- Going on an entire week-long vacation without even *taking* any makeup - as someone who used to not even leave the house without mascara, this was a big one for me.
- Learning who I am without it being about what I do - which I call the Art of Undoing
Spend a few minutes to really think through what you’ve achieved (or survived) that you’re proud of. Whether it’s finding a new job or finding your voice, it’s important to recognize and appreciate what you accomplished!
What lessons did you learn?
Thinking back on your year, what are some of the most important lessons you’re taking away from your experiences that can help you in the future?
Because our brains have this funny way of focusing most on what happened recently, we tend to forget lessons we’ve learned in the past - only to find ourselves repeating situations or behaviors over and over because we keep forgetting what we’ve learned from similar experiences in the past.
Lock in your lessons from the year so they can help you for years to come. Write them down and include how these lessons could help you in the future.
Some of my biggest lessons from the year?
- When starting something new, everything takes longer. I’m frequently reminded that I’m at the bottom of what feels like a very steep learning curve and learning takes a lot of time - but now that I’ve got this lesson down, I’m more prepared with flexible mental timelines (and expectations!).
- Doing is very habitual...but undoing is much more rewarding. The habit of doing - constantly needing to be busy, feeling the need to prove myself - is really hard to break because it’s so automatic, but learning who I am without all the ‘doing’ is so much more fulfilling and impactful.
- Self-care is not frivolous; it’s foundational. Everything - from my relationship with my kids, to my work product, to my impact, works better when I’m prioritizing self care. The time I spend on it pays dividends - big time.
What do you wish you had done more of and less of?
Time is our most precious resource.
This question is an opportunity to think about how you used yours - and how, knowing what you know now, you might have used it differently. It’s about reflecting on the choices you made so you can use them to be more intentional next year.
This question isn’t about changing the past or having regrets, but rather learning from our experiences so we can be wiser in the future.
First up, in thinking about you spent your time this past year, what do you wish you had done more of to feel more fulfilled?
Consider how you invested your time on your career, family, health, travel, creativity, play, self-care - and anything that’s important to you. Are there things you felt you missed out on that you wish you’d been present for? Different ways you would have liked to have spent your time to feel more fulfilled?
And, on the flip side, what would you have liked to have done less of to feel more fulfilled?
When answering this question, I find that people often focus on how they felt during the year - they would have worried less, been less stressed, etc…
First, awesome answers, and highly commendable.
That said, this exercise may be more actionable when you consider how those feelings impacted your time. What did those feelings actually cause you to DO that you don’t want to do anymore because it’s not serving you?
For me, I wish I’d spent:
- More time playing - doing things just because they’re fun. One of my favorite moments of the year was dancing and splashing in a crazy rainstorm with friends. I totally lost myself in the moment and laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. I need more of that.
- Less time stuck in self-doubt and trying to perfect what I write and share - being a life-long perfectionist is a hard habit to break, but one that’s not serving me (and is also completely unachievable).
Great job! If you’ve taken the time to go through this reflection, you’ve got some great successes to celebrate, lessons to reflect on, and opportunities to consider how you can be more intentional with your time next year.
I’ll be back with another article before the New Year to share a better strategy for kickstarting the year off right instead of the cursed New Year’s Resolutions. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!
What are the biggest lessons you learned this year? Sharing with others can help you to solidify the learning, but also help spread the wisdom to everyone else who’s reading this. And everyone appreciates more wisdom.
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