Reflecting on Your Year in a Useful Way
Maybe 2016 was shiny, bright, and amazing. Maybe it was 12 months you’d rather forget. Like most of us, it was likely a combination of the two. Regardless of how it went, reflecting can be helpful—and not in a ‘learn from your mistakes’ way.
“Looking back on the year is not about berating yourself and seeing what you need to do better,” says Lodro Rinzler, meditation expert and teacher at MNDFL in New York City. “It’s about rejoicing.” Even if you have plenty to rejoice about—a job, good friends, daily meals—it can be tough to know where to start. Or it can feel all too easy to dwell on disappointments.
“We tend to spend a lot of time and attention watering the weeds,” says “And then we’re growing the weeds. So this is a moment to water the flowers and pay attention to those.”
In other words, as you think about the past year, if negative thoughts start to creep in, it’s OK to sit with them for a moment, but then bring your attention back to the positive. “Remember to be gentle with yourself,” For these exercises, it’s important to let your thoughts flow freely rather than scrutinizing them.
With that in mind, below are two approaches for reflecting on your year: One involves a month-by-month breakdown, and the other looks at the different areas of your life. Pick the one that feels most approachable. After that, try a few easy (and fun!) steps to help focus your year ahead. Before starting this exercise know that when it comes to goals, we need to fall in love with the process not just the outcome. Learning to enjoy the many benefits and rewards along the way no matter how small is important to stay on track because there will be challenges that we need to be strong enough to endure.
Sometimes we need to give ourselves a reality check to take off the rose coloured glasses and put in the effort to reap the rewards! Anything worth working towards involves risk and sacrifice. Focus on one or two goals that truly speak to you and then know that taking steps towards making these reality is not simply going to be all fun and games. It will involve a lot of work, compromises and determination to achieve. Decide now if you’re willing to put in that kind of commitment and if not release the goal otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure. Here’s to making 2017 an awesome year!
I hope you find the following exercises helpful for setting and achieving your goals!
Do whatever you need to relax (maybe make yourself a cup of tea or take a few deep breaths), free yourself of distractions, and get out a pen and some paper.
Write down one thing you can rejoice in from each month. And don’t be afraid to have your calendar or iPhone nearby to refresh your memory. “It can be any number of things,”. “Nothing is too small, and nothing is too big.”
Think: a summer weekend outdoors, that time your boss complimented your work, your birthday, trying a new workout class that you loved, or your friend’s wedding.
In an effort to be thankful for the year you just had, take a few moments to sit quietly with your own breath and think about one quality you enjoy or one quality you’re working on.
“It could be something I’m currently enjoying in my work, or it could be one aspect of my body,”. And that doesn’t mean you need to be in peak physical condition either. You could delight in your hearing and all the great music you get to listen to, or the use of your legs and the long walks you’ve taken.
It can be very helpful to take a few moments each morning in the new year to think about everything on your plate. “What are you tackling? What qualities do you need to cultivate to accomplish the day?” Rinzler says.
Then again in the evening, reflect on your day. Did you accomplish what you wanted? If so, be happy about it, Rinzler says. And if not, remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. By making reflection a (quick) daily practice, you’ll also make your next end-of-year review much more manageable, Burrows says. “Think of it as crawling before walking—easy and approachable,” she says.
Like in the first approach, make this one feel a little sacred, Fletcher says. And yes, that means closing your laptop. (If you’re following along with this story, close all other windows, and disable any pop-up notifications).
For the first few minutes, simply let your mind wander back on the year. What were the happy moments? The sad moments? What was the best part of your vacation? Did you start a new job? When did you cry the loudest? Laugh the hardest?
Would the film be a documentary—because you learned a lot? Was it a hapless rom-com of failed Tinder dates and hilarious friends-only nights? Was it an action film filled with exciting adventures? A drama because, well, the year made you sad?
On a piece of paper, write down something you’re proud of from your personal life (this includes family), professional life, romantic life, physical life (for instance, sleeping more or drinking more water—not necessarily something related to fitness), spiritual life, and financial life.
Close your eyes again, and this time play what you want your 2017 life to look like. “You’re not limited by time or finances or anything really,”. “The point of this exercise is to get clear on what you want.”
After a few moments, begin to zero in on some of the bigger aspects of 2017: your birthday or a vacation you’re planning. Like before, pick a new film genre for 2017. “Once you feel like your imagination has kicked in, you can stop,” Fletcher says, “But the most important thing is that the things you’re thinking of bring a smile to your face.”
Similar to your review of 2016, now it’s time to write down one goal for each area in the coming year. Pick something for your personal, professional, romantic, physical, spiritual, and financial lives. They can be simple. Maybe it’s having the energy to go up a flight of stairs without being breathless, building a profile for yourself on a dating webite. Or reading a book. If a big idea doesn’t jump out, pick something small and concrete.
Don’t get bogged down trying to come up with the perfect word, Fletcher says. Think of one quality you’re looking to cultivate. Some ideas include: discipline, compassion, patience, drive, joy, and bravery.
After you’ve taken time to get clear on your past year and where you’re headed, Fletcher says it’s equally important that you put your notes away. Put them in a safe place and pull out your notes and review them maybe on a monthly basis so you can remind yourself of where you’re going and make adjustments to get you there.
“Get clear on your intentions, and then take inspired action,”. “But don’t stay too rigidly attached to how you think it should be.” Translation: If you get to June and things aren’t shaping up exactly how you envisioned, don’t. Don’t berate yourself —it’s simply time to reevaluate and readjust the goal. Here’s to falling in love with the process and in the case of Fitness that means making exercise and clean eating a daily habit. Enjoy treats and rest along the way staying on course even if that means falling off for a few days. There’s going to be times when we do “fall off quote. Let’s realize this now rather than taking they all or nothing approach. The key to success for any goal is to follow the plan 80/20%. Giving ourselves permission to enjoy treats and things that are not on “the plan” 20% of the time is more realistic and one that can be adopted as opposed to the stop and start or on and off mentality (which does not work). We need to cut ourselves some slack just get back on track.