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!