Each year about this time, I send out a note encouraging you to reflect on the past year because, without reflection, you won’t grow.
Reflection not only helps you capture reasons to celebrate and be grateful, but also builds your happiness level, (which we all need more of, especially this year). By taking a pause, we give our brains a chance to sort, interpret and create meaning. This “meaning making” is critical for learning and development so you can be intentional as you move forward.
1. What did I do, create, or experience this year that makes me proud?
If you’re critical of yourself, this is especially important. Capturing celebrations may not come naturally, but it can be with a little practice. The brain has a negative bias; this means, unless you make an effort to see the positive, you probably won’t (and if you do, you likely brush it off or downplay it).
Flip through your calendar, look at pictures on your phone, or chat with loved ones to capture the good stuff (especially the small stuff). Then celebrate and be proud!
If you want to find out more regarding this process, Rick Hanson explains the benefits of relishing in the positive to increase your happiness in Hardwiring Happiness.
2. What mistakes did I make that taught me something? What lessons did I learn that I can leverage?
Intellectually you may know that you’re supposed to be ok with failure, because that’s where growth happens. But seriously, no one is actually totally ok with failing. And if failure does happen, avoidance or getting past it as quickly as possible is typically how it’s handled.
But reflecting on this pain point is a very important part of the process to learn and grow. If you reflect back and can’t find a failure… that just might be it. Where did you not push yourself, but wanted to? Where do you want to get out of your comfort zone, but didn’t?
Then integrate these lessons to move forward with intention!
3. What am I willing to let go of?
If you’re like me, this year felt like it was a year of learning how to really let go. Let go of life as we know it, of expectations, of how things are supposed to be… lots and lots of letting go.
What are you still holding on to that you need to finally let go of, entirely? Where do you need to stop “shoulding” on yourself? Are you holding on to a story that really needs to be updated?
What have you already let go of this year that you’re proud of? What did you learn when you finally let it go?
Once you’re done with your year-end reflection, write down what you commit to for the next year. And, if you’re action-oriented, try committing to a character trait you want to fully develop, live and embody.
Whatever it is, write it down and plan to reflect regularly in 2021 – daily, weekly, monthly — but, please, no less than quarterly. I highly recommend you get a journal and start a weekly reflection. Here are a few questions to keep the reflections fresh.
- What am I grateful for today?
- What mindset do I want today?
- How do I want to BE today?
- What am I feeling today?
- What do I need today?
- How am I moving my body today?
- What beauty am I either creating, cultivating, or inviting in today?
- What will I focus on or do today (small step)?
If you want a partner to help you get clear on what’s next and how to get there, I’m here for you.