The end of the year is a great time for reflection and celebration. While most of us tend to be more retrospective this time of year, many of us are more eager to set goals for our New Year's resolutions. However, if we don't reflect on the last year, how can our resolutions for the next one be meaningful and impactful?
In this article, I'll discuss the importance of reflecting and how to get started.
Why is reflection important at the end of the year?
Reflecting allows us to process what has happened and gain insight into why certain things may have happened- for what was in our control at least. It should also provide us with a sense of closure from the past year so that we can move into the new one more confidently. Taking time to reflect helps us learn from our mistakes and recognize what we did well. It also allows us to appreciate the successes of the year and set realistic goals for the coming one.
Reflection is the key to moving forward with clarity into the new year, whether you're assessing your personal or professional goals.
Questions to ask yourself when reflecting
There is no right or wrong way to reflect on the past year. Here are some questions to help get you started:
- What was the best thing that happened this year?
- What was the worst?
- What were your biggest (and smallest) accomplishments?
- What did you learn this year?
- What mistakes did you make? Why do you think these were made?
- What did you do well?
- What could you have done better?
- What would you have done differently?
- Where did you need more support or resources? Who could you have asked for help?
- What are the biggest changes that occurred in your life over the last year?
- How can you use your experiences to set meaningful goals for the next year?
- How did you grow as a person and a professional this year?
Tips for Reflecting Effectively
Sometimes, it can be hard to remember what we even did throughout the year- especially if you have a thriving business or kids! Here are some ways to jog your memory:
- Look back at old notes, journal entries, calendars, planners, or other documents that you created throughout the year.
- Reach out to friends or family and ask them to share their most meaningful memories of you from this past year (good and bad, if they're willing to be candid).
- Look through old pictures on your phone or social media accounts, if applicable.
- If you still feel like you're missing something, think about any big events that happened in your town or the world this year that had an impact on your life.
What will you get out of an end-of-year reflection?
Reflection can be a powerful exercise to stay focused as the new year approaches. Asking ourselves meaningful questions will allow us to:
- Assess our progress
- Recognize our successes (and celebrate)
- Identify areas for improvement
- Set realistic goals for the upcoming year
Once you've gone through the questions, it's time to process all the information you've gathered. You can see how the answers tie together and try to draw some conclusions from them. This will help you recognize patterns and form actionable steps for the new year.
Celebrate the wins
This is the most rewarding part of reflecting, at least in the short term. Celebrating the wins from this past year will boost your confidence and help to put you in a positive frame of mind for the new year. No win is too big or too small. Celebrate it all and be proud of what you've accomplished in the past year. You deserve it!
As a mom, I know goals aren't always met as quickly as I'd like. But giving myself some grace and looking back on the progress I've made can be incredibly fulfilling.
For example, this year I am celebrating:
- Launching Mama’s Core Connection
- Created a postpartum exercise program- focusing on diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction
- Having several podcast interviews with other moms
What are you celebrating this year?
Learn from the Difficult Times
As rewarding as it can be to celebrate the wins, reflecting on difficult times can also be incredibly powerful- if not more so. It's an opportunity to learn from our experiences and create a more meaningful plan for the future. While difficult times are unfortunately inevitable, how we let them shape our future is up to us.
This year, I'm trying my best to look back at those challenging moments with gratitude and appreciation because they forced me to grow in ways that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
For example, this past year I struggled with the following:
- Postpartum anxiety and stress around all the things motherhood throws at me.
- Major water damage to our house in May 2022 and having to move into a rental for 6 months.
What are the difficult times that you faced this year? How did they help you grow and become more resilient?
Make a Plan for the New Year
Now that you've done the work of reflecting. You've now reached a great place to start planning for the new year. Now that you have a better understanding of what goals and strengths you can build on, it's time to make an intentional plan.
As you start setting goals, make sure they are small, measurable, and meaningful.
Reflecting is the Key to Setting the Right Goals for the New Year and Beyond
When you're ready to start reflecting, set aside a block of time- such as a quiet evening or morning when you won't be disturbed. Give yourself the space to be honest and open with your thoughts, without judgment or expectations.
Remember that reflection is not about finding fault in your actions or decisions; it's about understanding how those moments have shaped you and what lessons they may hold for the future.
I hope the end of this year and the beginning of the new one is a time for self-reflection, growth, and celebration for you. Wishing you an amazing 2023 and beyond!