Can you feel it?
It’s already December, which means 2017 is almost at a close. And after how crazy this year was, personally and globally, I think we’re already for a new year and a new start. But to really make 2018 your best year ever, we first need to squeeze the juice out of this one.
It’s around this time of year I find myself in a year-end reflection, looking over the highs, lows, and lessons to create an in-depth, actionable plan to make giant leaps in happiness in just a year’s time.
Last year was the first year I began this little practice with seriousness and I have made light years‘ worth of progress already. Looking back at the girl I was this time last year – I simply can’t believe I was the same person. While I already went over it in a previous post, it’s indescribable how incredibly blessed I feel these days. It’s as if everything I have ever wanted is taking shape without much effort on my part. I find myself in a constant state of “flow”, enjoying every moment consciously, just as it is. It seems that the misfortunes I encountered this year have strangely knocked me off the course I thought I wanted for the course that I needed.
I want you to feel this way too.
Today I’ll go over how to start this incredible, yet simple process of purposefully reviewing your year. But before we start there, it’s important to know why this process is so helpful.
Remember Your Purpose
Oftentimes my family or friends will lament that, after a certain age, it feels as if the years blend together – that you can’t really remember whether that one thing happened when you were 23 or 25, or when exactly you started doing x or y. If you’re not careful, your life begins to become routine, navigated by hodge-podge to-do lists and subconscious habits. In short, life happens to you rather than you consciously creating your life.
Now, naturally, I’m not suggesting that you can micromanage and force life to happen as you wish. Life does indeed happen! But I’m willing to bet that as a youngin’, you had certain dreams for your life. Whether that was having 10 kids and a lovely spouse or being a daring world adventurer, there was (and still is) something inside you that, left unaccomplished, would make your heart break.
By consciously reviewing the course of your life at the end of every year, you get a stark look at where you stand now in relation to your dreams. It reminds you to stay away from the “someday…” mentality and realize that, yes, you can have, do, and be everything you want – you just need to plan. Keeping your dream and purpose alive while staying adaptable to life’s surprises is where the money’s at.
Learn Your Lessons
It’s a cliche for a reason – every experience can be a learning experience if you look for it.
From your victories and your failures, from those who build you up and those who tear you down, there is a wealth of wisdom to gain.
In fact, I believe we learn most and best from the situations we want to avoid the most – the people who annoy us, the tragedies, and the scary leaps of faith.
In taking dedicated time to reflect on the year, we solidify the lessons we learned. More often than not, we find ourselves in the same situation over and over until we finally learn the lesson. Sitting down and seeing our year at large gives us the overall picture of our life. Do I continue to attract toxic partners? Do I constantly struggle with money? Am I constantly negative or spiteful?
Empower Your New Year
The end of the year is the perfect time to do some “spring cleaning” in your life and formally let go of any hurts this year has brought. Much like spring cleaning your house, it’s impossible to welcome the good and beautiful things into your home if it’s dusty, poorly lit, and full to the brim with rotten garbage.
What kind of garbage began cluttering your heart this year? Did you lose a job? Experience a hard breakup? Get denied by your dream school? Spend 15-20 minutes considering every hurt you haven’t 100% resolved this year, and spend time formally making peace with them. You might want to try these to help resolve your hurt:
- Writing a letter to whoever caused you pain, but not send it
- Speak with a therapist
- Pray or meditate on it
- Find or create your own “letting go” ritual (such as this one)
Celebrate the Good
After you formally acknowledge and release your pains, you’ll be in a much better position to squeeze the juice out of the new year. But to really start 2018 off on a great note, you need to recognize all the goodness and beauty you’ve already received. Call it woo-woo if you must, but the fact remains: if you want great things to happen to you, you must be deeply appreciative of every little thing that comes into your life.
What events this year made you feel incredibly thankful? Did you find your dream job? Make an important revelation? Accomplish a long-standing goal? Really relive every joyful experience this year, and spend time to celebrate your accomplishments, gifts, and happy surprises.
How to Do Your Review
Now on to the meat of the work: getting to our actual review!
First, make sure you have plenty of quiet, uninterrupted time free of distraction – perhaps 45 minutes to an hour. Grab your pen and something to write on (I prefer to use my nicest notebook), and answer the following questions as honestly as possible. This is for your eyes only, so don’t hold back.
- Where did you grow more than you thought you would? Less?
- What things majorly changed your outlook?
- What are your 3 biggest lessons for this year? Which were negative, and which were positive?
- What one thing caused you the most joy this year? The most pain?
- What are you most proud of this year? Least proud of?
- Overall, how well do you feel that this year went? Did it keep you on track with your larger life vision, or did you veer off track?
- What 5 major things can you do next year to move you closer to your overarching life goals?
- Review your life wheel for the year. Are there any areas that are under-performing? Any areas that you seem to plateau at? What can you do to improve those areas of your life this year?
- Imagine it is New Year’s Day next year (2019). What do you want to have in your life by this time next year? A debt-free life? A flourishing business? Your soulmate?
- What are the major steps in accomplishing the goals in #8?
- What kind of habits will you need to adopt or eliminate to accomplish this?
Not sure where to start or what habits might give your life a boost? Not to worry, friend. I have a few suggested goals for every area of the life wheel. See if any of these might resonate with you.
- Start a business
- Start a blog
- Earn a promotion
- Maintain a GPA of ____
- Secure my dream job
Fitness and Health
- Lose __ lbs/kgs
- Reduce cholesterol/blood pressure/etc. to a healthy range
- Enter a marathon, Tough Mudder, or weight lifting competition
- Begin a vegetarian/vegan/paleo diet
- Drink 8 glasses of water a day
Finance and Wealth
- Become debt-free
- Make $XXX,XXX per year
- Start a retirement/college/vacation fund
- Begin investing
- Start a side hustle
Social and Friends
- See my friends at least ___ per ___
- Make 3 new friends
- Join a meetup
- Start a book club
- Reconnect with old friends
- Begin a weekly date night with my spouse
- Find my soulmate
- Get married
- Propose to my fiance
- Take a romantic vacation with my partner
- Begin learning a new language
- Travel to ___
- Begin a new hobby
- Learn to cook
- Take dance lessons
- Begin volunteering
- Volunteer ___ hours this year
- Donate to ___
- Work with ____
- Get involved in a political cause I care about
- Learn to love my body
- Pamper myself with ____
- Stop saying sorry so much
- Become self-confident
- Learn to say no
To a Wonderful New Year
This is definitely a multi-day task, so please take as much time as you need to reflect, heal, and energize yourself for the year ahead. This is no space to beat yourself up or feel ashamed; rather, this is a process to help you become your best self one day at a time. You can do it. 🙂
What are your biggest to-dos for the year ahead? How do you feel about this one? Be sure to let me know in the comments!