Reviewing the past year is a powerful step in setting yourself up to make next year one of your best yet. Here’s how to reflect on the year in a meaningful way, plus the next steps to take in your goal and intention setting for 2019.
Let’s start the week with a personal development question: When do you decide on the goals and intentions you want to set for a new year?
My personal preference is to tackle this project throughout December, not on January 1st. Why? Well, as we’ve all experienced at some point, the holidays are a time typically full of social events, travel, later-than-usual nights, and let’s be real – a lot of eating. My stance is that if we all set goals for the new year on January 1st, after several weeks of being in “festive mode”, those goals would largely involve repenting for holiday indulgences. You know the ones:
Must eat zero sugar or carbs.
Must detox and subsist on only celery juice for a month.
Must run 10 miles every day. Be to the treadmill like the hamster to the wheel.
As silly as all those sound, the reality is that our minds can go to some kinda irrational places when we’re in a state of temporary discomfort. (Hello, sugar coma, hangover, sleep deprivation, jet lag etc!) Setting goals in this state is like being hangry in the grocery store: just not a great idea.
January 1st goals are also more likely to be made without a whole lot of thought around a sustainable, realistic plan for achieving them. You’d wake up on New Year’s Day (probably later than usual if you’ve been out celebrating) and be all “OH-MY-GOD-IT’S-JANUARY-1ST-AND-I’VE-ALREADY-LOST-A-FEW-HOURS-ON-2019!”
Ok, perhaps another exaggeration. But you see where I’m coming from, right? Feeling behind is not a good way to start a new year, and goals are better set with intention, inspiration and motivation behind them. Personally, I’ve found that none of those come easy in a stressed-out state.
So let’s calllllllm down, grab a hot mug of whatever makes you feel cozy, and start that goal/intention setting process while we’ve still got December to play with. My preferred way of doing this is to start by reflecting on the past year. Here’s why:
1. We don’t take enough time to acknowledge how far we’ve come.
If asked, I’m sure we could all quickly rattle off a few things we wish were better about our lives. But how often do we actually sit and allow ourselves to enjoy the accomplishments? When we do, these things seem to take a little more thought because we’re so quick to chase after the next thing. Even little wins are worth acknowledging because they all add to the momentum and confidence we need to go after new challenges.
2. Reflection helps us re-gain perspective.
It’s easy to get distracted by what doesn’t really matter. You know, those seemingly-important tasks that are actually not that important in the grand scheme of things? Reflection allows us to determine if our actions have been aligning with our purpose, which is what allows us to live fulfilled lives.
How to reflect on the year in a meaningful way
So how do you reflect on the year in a meaningful way? Just like the 31 self care journal prompts I shared here, I think that there’s no ‘right’ way to do it. You could write down your thoughts, talk about the year with a friend, or just think about them when you’re out for a walk or commuting. But for those of you (like me) who like structure, here’s 5 questions to guide the process.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Wait, ending on a question about fear and anxiety? That’s a weird place to stop, isn’t it?” And yes, it is! But that’s because there’s more….
Planning for 2019
The next step after reflecting on this year is to start planning for the one ahead. When doing this, I believe that coming from a place of trying to fix all the problems isn’t very effective. You could do a run-down of all the things that aren’t working, but to me, that’s like walking into a grocery store and stopping at every item you don’t want. It would take forever, and by the end, you’d have a cart full of of nothing!
Instead, I prefer to take the approach of deciding how I want to feel in the next year. In the reflection questions for 2018, you’ll have listed out the things that brought you the most happiness and enjoyment. Assuming you want to feel more happiness and enjoyment in 2019, you’d then determine what similar experiences could create those same feelings more often. As you can see, this step is more specific than the ones before, and being specific is a characteristic of a meaningful goal.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that in 2018, you learned that you got a lot of joy and happiness from spending time with your friends. Being more social made you feel valued, appreciated, and that you belonged to a group. You laughed a lot and created some fun memories. With that in mind, maybe a goal/intention you set for 2019 is to organize/host more social gatherings, or perhaps expand your social circles by attending new events. You’re not just doing the same things that made you happy more frequently, but you’re also growing by challenging yourself to expand your social connections. It’s kind of like working the same muscle, but with a different exercise.
If you’re really starting to get into this and want more guidance around your self-reflection and goal setting for 2019, it’s your lucky day!
Since the early days of my work as a Holistic Health Coach, I’ve been iterating on The Gorgeous Guide to Goal Conquering. It’s a workbook designed to help you make the very most of the year ahead – and the ones after that, too. Today I’m excited to share the latest update, The Gorgeous Guide to Goal Conquering 2019.
Inside this 37 page guide you’ll find:
- A note from your truly to get you in the right mental space for setting ambitious, meaningful goals and intentions
- Exercises to help you reflect on the past and present, then visualize and start to create your ideal future (the questions above are just scratching the surface!)
- The step-by-step process I go through when setting my own intentions (monthly and annual), and the one I recommend to the women I coach
- Strategies to help you overcome obstacles and regain motivation along the journey
- Recommendations and tools for staying accountable and tracking progress
If you’re as excited about the prospect of 365 fresh new days to live fully, create whatever your heart desires, you’ll want to get your hands on this beauty! You can do that right here.
So tell me… do you do an annual reflection on your year? When does it happen and what’s your preferred way of doing this?