I love this time of year – the cozy evenings, the twinkling lights, and it’ll soon be my birthday! This year’s birthday is particularly special due to turning a milestone number. Therefore, I decided to gift myself a trip that I’ve been dreaming about since college – trekking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal. If you know me, then you know I’ve climbed a lot of mountains and hiked in a lot of places. So, you might be wondering, why haven’t I done this before if I’ve been dreaming about it for so long?
Simply put, I wanted it to be perfect. I only wanted to go if I could trek the entire circuit, take all the excursion trails, and not feel rushed… I wanted to take 4-6 weeks! Hence why I never went. I decided it was time to take the time, but not make it perfect. I won’t be doing the entire circuit or all the excursions, but I’ll be trekking in Nepal and that’s enough for me to say it’s going to be the perfect gift to myself.
At the start of the new year, I will take a brief pause and spend some trail time reflecting on this past year.
I encourage you to do the same, even if it’s a shorter pause than you’d like. Not everything needs to be perfect.
It’s important to reflect to capture the reasons to celebrate and be grateful, which can help you build your happiness level. Taking a pause gives your brain a chance to sort, interpret, and create meaning, which is critical for learning and development. This way you can be more intentional as you move forward. Reflection helps you be happier and be a better person (leader, parent, partner, friend, etc.).
- 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, that 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!
- 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 okay with failure because that’s where growth happens. But seriously, no one is actually totally okay 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 challenging to let go. Letting go of expectations for how others (or we) are supposed to behave, or 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 consider all aspects of your life: 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 2024 – 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.