The art of end-of-year reflection

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As the days of December — and the year — wane, we have a great opportunity to reflect on the year that's ending, and to start considering what we want to create in our lives in the coming year. 

Most of us rush through holiday preparations and celebrations. It’s easy to move on auto-pilot, and find ourselves in a whole new year without having done any reflecting. And that’s a big missed opportunity. Because when we fail to slow down and take stock, we fail to live intentionally. It's like leaving unclaimed gold behind, that can inform your future in important ways.

Can you make time for thought and reflection, even at this busy time of year? Can you make some precious time for yourself a priority — and commit to giving yourself this gift?

Here’s what this commitment looks like.

Set aside an hour or two for quiet reflection. Pick a spot that’s cozy and away from distractions. Maybe that's a room you love in your home, or a quiet corner of a lovely restaurant or inn. Maybe you want to spend a few hours at a spa, and sit in a beautiful quiet room wrapped in a thick robe. Maybe you are someplace warm and can find a spot in nature to relax and think.

You may want to do this reflecting alone, or you may invite a close friend, sibling, or partner to join you. Have a notebook in hand and a favorite pen or pencil. Include a mug of warm tea or a glass of wine, light a candle, and maybe put on some soft music to create the setting that will help you sit in peace. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

What did the last year teach you?

  • How did you step outside of your comfort zone? What happened? What is your big take-away?
  • How did you cope with a challenge (or more than one challenge)? How did you navigate it? What worked well? What could have been better?
  • How did you take good care of yourself, or find any new ways to care for yourself? What positive outcomes did you get? What did you try that did not meet your expectations?
  • If you neglected self-care, what were the consequences? Do they motivate you to find ways to take better care of yourself next year?
  • What do you want more of in your life? 
  • What things or activities do you want to keep?
  • What things or activities do you want to stop doing? 
  • What are you no longer willing to tolerate? 

What can you acknowledge and celebrate?

  • What went well, that you can look back at and truly appreciate? Can you see things, (big and small) that are noteworthy, that you did that had a positive impact on your life?
  • What was it about you that made those things possible? Was it courage? Did you study to achieve it? Did you ask for help, so there was less struggle? Did you trust your intuition?  
  • What can you celebrate? Can you celebrate overcoming a fear? Achieving something important? Healing a sore spot in your heart? Leading with more boldness? Staying committed to something important? Stepping up in a new way?
  • Consider the ways you can celebrate these things! Don’t simply shrug them off. Can you treat yourself to an experience you have been longing for? Can you make a sign to post where you will see it that says “Bravo!”? Can you invite someone special to join you for a celebratory outing?

After you have reflected, acknowledged yourself and celebrated the great ways that you showed up in the past year, you will be poised to consider the year ahead — with questions like:

What do you want to be next year? 
What do you want to do next year? 
What do you want to have next year? 
In short, what do you want to create in your life next year?

Answering those questions will entail another session for thought and consideration. You may want to do some journal writing about them here and there in the next couple of weeks. This is a perfect time to start to think — and dream — about the year you want to create.

Wishing you all the best for the end of this year, and abundant happiness, love and creativity in the new year.