I started doing this 9 years ago. I enjoy how the practice helps me hold onto the important memories. Being able to read through my reflections from the past 9 years brings it all back! This practice also gives me a chance to be honest about what I’ve struggled with and confront unhealthy patterns I want to change.
If you want to do this also, please refer to my Guide for Year End Reflections!
In no particular order, here are the top 10 things I want to remember for the good-feels they brought this year.
I used to write out 10 disappointments, which was challenging. It helped me dive into the smaller things that I regretted. But I really struggled to come up with a full 10. So I started focusing on the 5 biggest disappointments and what I could learn from them.
HE LOOKS SO BIG!
THIS WAS AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.
To start with, I am super proud of the things I accomplished in 2021. It was a pretty big year in many ways. I challenged myself and took on some things that really stretched me. I recognized some of my self-sabotage patterns and was able to push through them and succeed on some things. I can see growth in my life and I can see healing happening. So I want to celebrate that.
Being honest, though, it has still been a really hard year. I’ve felt spread thin and exhausted. I made some progress in 2021 toward slowing down and doing less. But not enough. I still spent a lot of time and energy reacting to opportunities; taking them because I was worried I’d become irrelevant if I didn’t. I still lived under a sense that I have to be toiling and striving in the work I’m passionate about in order to be worthy and make my life count.
Many things I’ve said were “important” to me have kept getting pushed to the back. I don’t want to live my life saying “someday I’ll do that”. I don’t want to be reactive but proactive. I don’t want to resent doing for others because I did it at the expense of taking care of my own needs or interests.
My sense going into 2022 is that I’ll continue to let go of more self-imposed obligations. That I’ll learn to leave lots more room for cultivating joy and hope. For reading my books and taking better care of my body. My sense is that in 2022 I’ll be more selective and proactive about what I give my time and energy too.
PEACE OUT, 2021!
In 2012 I was blogging under the name “Running Hutch” (a nickname based off my maiden name) and I wrote a post about Year End Reflections. I’ve done this as a personal practice every year since! My original post included a graphic outlining the process for my year end reflections and it has been widely shared (and even copied/remade without attribution) since then. Flattering but frustrating.
As the former blogs I had posted the Year End Reflection guide on are now archived/gone (runninghutch.com, thoroughlythriving.com, and tiffanylavon.com), I figured it was time to update the guide and republish. So here it is!
I don’t often write things that resonate so far and wide. Regardless, it always matters that we give proper attribution to the writers and creators whose work we share or adapt, especially when we’re borrowing from women of color! It’s 2021, people. I’m not going to be shy about demanding acknowledgement for what I’ve created.
I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think we should have resolve to get after our goals regardless of what date it says on the calendar. However, I love the idea of spending the last few days of the year to really reflect on all that has transpired. It feels like a natural time to review things like:
Once I’ve done this, I know I can make more informed decisions about what I want to do in the upcoming year.
It’s fairly self-explanatory and you can make this what you want or need it to be. However, if you want a little bit more explanation or some of my “pro-tips”, read on.
Did you realize a goal you’d set for yourself? Have a favorite memory from time spent with loved ones? Go ahead and list 10 of your favorite things from the past year. Why 10? Because it forces you to go deeper than the obvious highs of your year and look for some hidden treasures.
PRO TIP: Take a minute to read through these and take in all the good feels. To borrow an idea I first heard from Milton Stewart of Kaizen Careers, take 11 seconds to soak in the feeling of this moment. Acknowledge the warmth of your top 10. Maybe share them with someone?
What did you do or not do that bothered you? Typically I try to focus more on behaviors and actions that I had control over instead of external disappointments caused by other people or circumstances. For example, did you fail to accomplish a goal you’d set for yourself? Do you regret how you handled a conflict with a friend or colleague? Do you feel like you betrayed the boundaries you set for yourself? These can require some brutal self-honesty.
What unexpected things came along that changed your priorities? Did you discover a passion for pilates? Find out you were allergic to something and needed to change your diet? It’s fair game to list things outside of your control, like a global pandemic maybe? Identify the top 3 things that forced you to pivot in big ways.
What are the 3 main areas in your life that you spent the majority of your time on this year? It could be struggling to manage anxiety or depression. It could be finishing a degree or keeping your business afloat.
PRO TIP: look back at your highlights. See any patterns there?
What are the 3 main areas of your life that you neglected the most? Self-care? A personal hobby? A key relationship? Maybe you’d really hoped this would be the year that you would do XYZ, but then it just didn’t pan out.
PRO TIP: Check your 5 disappointments and see if they reveal any bigger themes.
Read through your list and consider what you’ve learned. How you’ve grown. Where you still need growth. Maybe even take a day or two to let it all tumble around in your mind and settle in your soul.
When you’re ready, write out your reflection on the year. How have the events and actions of the past year brought you to where you are right now, mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, physically, etc? What do you think about it all?
Then, finish with considering how you want this reflection to inform your choices going forward. What really matters to you? What do you really want to spend your time and energy on? What changes are you ready to make?
Sometimes, in order to know where we need to go, we need to first look at where we’ve been.
I do hope this guide continues to travel and becomes a meaningful practice for others. I’m certainly amazed when I go back and read through the past 9 years worth of reflections I took the time to write! It’s inspiring and yet also super duper humbling. Haha.
So, please share this far and wide. If you write up your reflections to share on your blog or social media, please tag me! On Instagram, I’m @CoachHenness. On Facebook, my page is Calling In The Wilderness. I’m not really active on Twitter anymore but a link to this blog post is always appreciated!
I’ve wanted to work on a reverse poem for a while. I finally sat down and made it happen. I have many themes in my head but this one is perfect for the poem structure. By reading down and back up, you journey with me “out of the fog” to face the “wound”.
“Coming out of the fog” is a phrase adoptees use when we begin to confront the reality of how adoption has impacted us. It’s a non-linear experience of grief and loss that can begin at any time in an adoptee’s life. Some adoptees never experience this.
The “wound” refers to the Primal Wound theory by Nancy Verrier, which states that even if a child is separated from the first mother the moment it is born, the infant will register that as trauma in their body, in their nervous system. Though an adoptee like myself may not have a conscious memory of that stress or my struggle to survive without my biological mom, the wound is there. Acknowledging that is part of healing.
Thanks for reading.
Title: Fog & Wound By Tiffany Lavon Adoption is beautiful. I can’t honestly claim that I need to grieve I don't need sympathy Focusing on my blessings Is how I grow, not Lamenting a loss before memory Truth is I should always be grateful It is actually harmful to imply Adoption is inherently traumatic My adopted family Is a deeper part of me than My ancestral heritage Which will never be part of my life The bond with my first mother Does not eclipse My adopted mother's love I have no doubt that This was God's Plan A I can't imagine how My life could be different. [read in reverse, line by line]
Better will not be Not for them if not by me Not-all-men will not all sacrifice Not-all-white-people will not all open their eyes Pushing my hopes into their future dreams is just passing the stuck of our present reality naming better evolves naturally claiming hate fades as life cycles Not-all-them is not any relief I must show mine how to blend action and belief Must summon all that I already am to cultivate all that they already are but can’t harvest yet I must make better now in me around me not just for them but with them so that by them better we'll be