Turn Setbacks into Setups
Why and How to Take Time to Reflect on the Past Year
December 7, 2018
Ah, the end of another year. Now’s the moment when we get to sweep this year under the rug and welcome the new year with open arms.
But not so fast! A little intentional self-reflection, especially in these last few days of the year, can help you truly acknowledge all you’ve done, and it can also help you face the new year head-on. Maybe this year was amazing, and you feel grateful and excited about all you’ve done. Or maybe there’s a lot that happened that you’d rather forget. Either way, we’ve all had good and bad moments this year, and it’s time to reflect with purpose on the year’s ups and downs.
Of course, this self-reflection isn’t about beating yourself up for bad things that happened; it’s about taking a meditative moment to appreciate all the year has given you, and all you have. Doing this the right way helps us keep things in perspective, letting us learn from our experiences and prepare for new choices going forward.
We tend to spend a lot of time dwelling on disappointments. But during this period of self-reflection, as you consider all that happened this past year, that’s not where your focus should lie. If you’ve read our blogs about meditation, this next part may sound familiar: when you start thinking about negative outcomes, simply acknowledge them and then let them go, focusing instead on the more positive things that have happened this year.
To start your annual self-reflection, pull up your calendar from the past year. Note that in today’s increasingly online world, you may have to piece your “calendar” together from social media accounts, email, and a physical calendar or planner as well. Jot down a list of past events and accomplishments, new things you tried, people you met, places you visited, and challenges you faced.
Finally, spend some time thinking about what each of these things meant for you, and reflect on what (if anything) you learned from your experiences.
During this time, you should also specifically look through your list to highlight the positive outcomes from this year. Take some time to remember all of the good that’s happened, and how you want and plan to create more of that going forward.
With this period of self-reflection, you’ll probably get a strong reminder of just how long a year actually is, and how much opportunity you have to achieve something interesting. From your reflective observations, and the insights you’ve gained about lessons learned, try to envision the coming year. What do you want to do differently in 2019? What do you want to achieve?
You may want to take this time to create your list of New Year’s resolutions in order to make these changes. It’s a good idea to do this early, as changes often require some extra mental prep time. As we approach the new year, we usually need to make mental adjustments before we can make physical ones, so a head start on your resolutions may be exactly what you need to succeed in the coming year.
Reflecting on what worked this year, and making plans to change what didn’t, can help you take small steps toward lasting change in 2019. Here’s to a new year full of growth and opportunity!