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Reflecting on the past year can be challenging, especially in 2020. We’ve been forced to change during the pandemic whether we wanted to or not. Some people love the slower pace and welcomed it. Some people (especially extroverts) don’t like it. Regardless of which side of the camp you fall into, reflection is still helpful. This may be your first time reflecting on the year (at least on purpose). Great!
That makes me so happy for you. Reflecting on the past year can sometimes feel like a huge task. It can feel like ripping off a band-aid. But it’s so important for you to do. Sometimes, you think everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, but when you sit down and think about it, you realize the year hasn’t been so bad after all. Year-end reflections are so important for us to continue to grow, evolve, and learn.
What is a year-end reflection?
First and foremost, a year-end reflection is similar to a vehicle inspection from your mechanic. He/she just looks over your vehicle with a checklist and figures out what’s good and what needs to be replaced. You are looking back at the current year and assessing each area of your life. You are deciding on what’s good, what needs to go, and what has room for improvement. A year-end reflection isn’t for you to judge yourself harshly or beat yourself up. It’s literally setting aside time to looking at your life from the top down (like the bird’s eye view) to see what you want to change, remain the same, or remove.
Why should you do a year-end reflection?
You need to know where you're at now so you can plan for the coming year. It's the first step. It gives you a benchmark for your goals next year. It can tell you the good things that you have, the things that need to be changed, and the things that need to be removed from your life. This is just you taking the time to look at your life and plan for your future. It can sound really labor-intensive, but it’s not. You are just asking yourself some reflective questions. It’s not meant to use it to beat yourself up or belittle yourself. It’s just an inspection.
What happens when you skip the year-end reflection?
When you don't do the year-end reflection, you miss out on a great opportunity. It's not just about the bad, it's about the good too. You deserve to pat yourself on the back. You've made it through 2020. We are in the middle of a pandemic. You're doing great. You need to know where you're starting before you set goals next year. It's like starting to try to lose weight without weighing yourself. You don't know how good you've done because you don’t know where you started.
You can also look at the not so good things. You can decide to change them or do away with them. If you bought a home you don’t like, you get to decide if you want to change it (remodel, redecorate, etc.) or sell it. You get to decide. You get to look at all of your decisions and decide if you want to keep them. How amazing is that? When you skip the year-end reflection, you’re missing out on an opportunity to design your dream life.
How to do a year-end reflection
The first step in your year-end reflection is to reflect on this year. Answering the questions below will help guide your reflection through your year. Remember when reflecting- you’re just being open and honest with yourself. This isn’t to judge yourself or to beat yourself up. You’re literally just reflecting and inspecting (like the mechanic). Just grab a pen and paper and write out the first things that come to mind as you read the questions. Ask a couple of them. You don’t have to necessarily do all of them unless you really want to.
Questions to ask yourself when reflecting:
- What did you love about this year?
- What didn’t you like about this year?
- What did this year teach you?
- What did this year make possible?
- What did you learn this year?
- How did you grow this year?
- What did you accomplish this year?
- What didn’t you accomplish XYZ this year?
- What did I learn about myself this year?
- How did you grow spiritually this year?
- What would I have done differently?
- What were the biggest challenges of this year?
- What are you most proud of yourself for this year?
- What are 3 amazing accomplishments you reached this year?
- What’s my best memory of this year?
- What’s my worst memory of this year?
- What did I love about the pandemic?
- What did I hate about the pandemic?
The second step in the year-end reflection process is to edit. This is my favorite part!! It’s like spring cleaning. You get to figure out what’s staying, what’s going, and what’s changing. It always makes me feel so good to do this step. It’s like decluttering your house. It almost feels like a new house afterward. Like it's spick and span and there is so much room. Thinking about what’s happened this year, ask yourself these questions and journal out the answers.
Questions to ask yourself when editing:
- What do you want to do better next year?
- What would you change about this year?
- What did you do this year that you don’t want to do next year?
- How do you think you showed up for yourself this year?
- How do you think you can show up differently for yourself next year?
- What do you want to stay the same from this year?
- What do you want to do next year?
- What do you want to do differently next year?
- What do you want to focus on next year?
- What do you want more of next year?
- What do you want to stay the same next year?
- How do you want to show up differently next year?
Things to remember when doing the edit:
Bless and release
You can’t control everything. You need to learn how to bless and release. Write a list of all of the things you want to let go of and not carry into 2021. Think of it as a “let go” list. You are letting go of all of the things you didn’t like about this year, all of the things you wish were different, all of the limiting beliefs, etc. You’re letting go of whatever you want. It’s your list. You get to choose what’s on it. Finished with your list? Great, now burn it. It’s freeing, isn’t it!
Treat yourself with kindness and compassion
When you're always looking back, remember to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. It's always a good thing to come from love instead of judgment. Don't judge any of your decisions. They're in the past. You did what you thought was right at the time and that's okay. Your life isn't going to always be sunshine and daisies all of the time and that’s okay. Life is supposed to be 50/50. 50% bad and 50% good. Don’t beat yourself up for the 50% bad.
3. Plan for next year and wrap up your reflections.
The final step for your year-end reflection is to plan for next year. I love planning for the next year. It feels like you’re getting a fresh start. Like the world is at your fingertips. You get to decide what to focus on next year.
Create a word of the year
If you’re new to planning or goal setting, the easiest thing is to think about a word of the year. Creating a word of the year sounds like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about your reflection questions about what you want more of and what you want to focus on next year. This is a good place to start.
Additional questions to figure out your word of the year:
- What do you value?
- What mood/tone do you want to have for the year?
- What’s your big goal/habit you want for the year?
Examples of words of the year:
The list can go on and on and on again. The possibilities are endless.
Here are my words of the year:
I wanted to get better at planning and how to learn to serve. That’s how I came up with those. I personally think words of the year are so exciting!! They can be like your theme of the year. Whatever goals/habits you want to achieve, you can use these as a focus. Like how can planning help me achieve my goal? Or if your word of the year is health, you can work on being healthy in all aspects of your life (spiritually, mentally, and physically). There isn’t a wrong way to do this. Just think about it and pray about it. Whatever keeps coming up….. that’s your word of the year!
4. Write a letter to yourself
Okay, writing a letter to yourself might seem weird or woo. I get it. BUT you have to trust me on this one. Its life-changing! You can find out so much about yourself by writing yourself a letter. It's like when you pick up your pen, all of the deep parts of your brain come out onto the paper. It's crazy how good it is. You can use it to help you figure out your goals, what you want to do in life, and more. It's amazing how well it works!
How to write a letter to yourself
The easiest way to write a letter to yourself is to just do it. It may seem so simple, but it’s a huge step. Just get out a pen and a piece of paper and date it for 12/31/2021 and start writing. Talk about whatever comes to mind. Talk about what your life like, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, how you didn’t let fear stand in your way, etc. Literally, just write down everything that comes to mind. You’re writing from the viewpoint of your 2021 self to your current 2020 self.
So, what’s next after you finish your year-end reflections? First and foremost, pat yourself on the back for digging in and doing the deep work. It's the first step to crafting a life you love!! After that, head on down to the form below to sign-up for access to our Free Resource Library for Special Needs Moms. It is filled with freebies to help you on your special needs journey. You won't be sorry 🙂