December 12th, 2020
As soon as we approach December, I like to capture some thoughts about the year gone by. The end of the year always approaches so suddenly and it catches me by surprise... even though it happens every year!
Thinking about the year that you've had is important, and if you dig deep enough you realise that there is so much to be proud of and grateful for. Despite the setbacks.
We are programmed to remember negative events much more than positive ones, so we can easily miss all of the good stuff, if we don't take a moment to slow down and reflect on it.
At the end of each year, I like to take the opportunity to be kind to myself and appreciate everything about the past year.
I did a mid year review, which was more of a detailed look at goals that were met, on track or changed. I also captured what I was feeling and what I wanted to improve. This was really useful at the mid year point, because you can make any changes you need to make for the rest of the year.
My year end review was less structured, and centred around general reflection from a place of gratitude.
Before jumping into setting goals for the new year, I like to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for the end of the year, and the beginning of new one.
To achieve this, my year end reflection focussed on:
appreciating successes and
I come across hundreds of reflection prompts in videos and blog posts which just ended up overwhelming me, so I wanted to keep it simple and precise.
Appreciating your triumphs is the best way to set yourself up for success for the following year. Focussing on this, puts you in the positive state of mind that helps you look ahead and plan for the new year.
This is when all of the journalling that you've done throughout the year can really help. Everything we've learnt and experienced throughout the year is in our journals.
I recommend flicking through and having a look at the past year in your journal if you have one. If not, look through your calendar (digital or not) or any notes you've made throughout the year.
Start thinking about what you're proud of, and what went well.
Triumphs can be achievements or even things that have given you joy. They're all worth mentioning. They are what give you the positive energy you need, when setting up your intentions for the new year.
My triumphs range from practical accomplishments like setting up this channel, my blog and my newsletter. To family things, like the quality time we've had together, or my son starting school. I also have behaviours that I'm happy about, like choosing progress over perfection. Or things that have given me joy, like reading books and journalling consistently.
The second part of the exercise is about what you want to improve, to help remove the excess from your life. Again look through your journal for clues and reflection prompts. You might find clues in your weekly or daily logs or any other lists you wrote throughout the year.
Think about the things that haven't served you as well as you would've liked. By removing projects or activities that haven't worked for you, you can create space in your mind and your life, to invite in creativity, new ideas, opportunities and mindfulness.
Think about the things you should've said no to. And I don't necessarily mean no to other people, but to yourself too. I know there were certain projects and activities that I should've said no to from the start...just to myself.
This then comes together to form your refinements list.
I don't really like to look at things like this as wins and losses, because life isn't just black or white. The definition of refinement is the process of removing unwanted elements from a substance, or the improvement of something by making small changes... which is exactly what we're after here.
Thinking these things through can really help set the tone for the following year. And it's important to start the year with a positive mindset. This, combined with the "new year fresh start" spirit, can set off a chain reaction of positive events and activities in your life.
As you know I do a ton of reflection spreads in my journal, like the wheel of life exercise for finding balance or Stoic lists for finding happiness. Reflection and journalling throughout the year, enable me to have a simple year end reflection, because I've been doing the work all year round.
I've found it really helpful just keeping this year end reflection simple, rather than having an overwhelming amount of information to work through.
I hope it works for you too.
If you're interested in seeing me set up my year end reflection spread while you think about your own, here's the video: