If you’ve been a part of my community for a while, then you know two things about this time of year. 1) It’s one of my favorite times of the year (one of many) – the twinkling lights, the cozy ugly sweaters, and my birthday is coming (when I get wonderful reminders of being so very loved). 2) It’s when I take a pause and reflect on the past year, and I encourage you to do the same.
Reflection helps you capture reasons to celebrate and be grateful, which can help you build your happiness level. By taking this pause, you give your brain a chance to sort, interpret, and create meaning, which is critical for learning and development. This allows you to be more intentional as you move forward. In a nutshell, reflection can make you happier and be a better person (leader, parent, partner, friend, etc.).
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 accomplished with a little practice. The brain has a negative bias. This means, unless you make a conscious 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. If failure does happen, avoidance or getting past it as quickly as possible is typically how it’s handled.
Reflecting on this pain point is a very important part of the process to learn and grow. If during this review, you 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, it can be really hard to let go. Letting go of expectations for how others are supposed to behave. Letting go of how things are supposed to go, especially when I feel like I’m wasting time (I have a strong efficiency value). But it feels so good to get the energy back after I do let go.
What are you still holding on to that you need to finally let go of, entirely? Where do you need to stop “should-ing” 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 don’t forget to take all aspects of your life into consideration: Health, Family, Friends, Romance, Fun, Financial, Career, Spiritual/Personal Growth, Community, and whatever else you’d like to add.
If you’re action-oriented, try committing to a character trait you want to fully develop and embody. If you like the idea of creating a theme for the year, try picking a word for the year.
Once it’s written down, find time on your calendar to reflect regularly in 2023 – daily, weekly, monthly (but please, no less than quarterly). Get a journal to capture the reflections so you can build on and reinforce your progress.
If you want a partner to help you get clear on what’s next and how to get there, I’m here for you.