End-of-year reflection and review is usually the last thing on our minds when it gets to the final stretch of the year. Instead, we rush into just wanting to switch off and hang out around the pool or beach. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, we need to take time to step back and assess. Asses what we have achieved in terms of our personal growth and development over the year. And also define our plans for what we want to work on in the new year and beyond. This helps us create a strategy of where and how to focus our energy and time – being purposeful.
Grab your journal or a notepad, pen and something to sip on and let’s get your end-of-year reflection and review going. The following questions will help you through this reflective process.
END OF YEAR REFLECTION AND REVIEW: LOOKING BACK
QUESTION 1: What were the major events that defined your year – positive and negative?
a). Describe these events as if you’re sharing the story with a close friend.
b). Then summarise the overall feel for the year – i.e. messy, lots of change, etc.
QUESTION 2: Now describe the main lessons learned from each of the major events (or from the events collectively).
a). What have you learned about yourself?
b). Has your perspective changed? How?
QUESTION 3: What are you grateful for?
By reflecting on what you’re grateful for, you connect more with what matters most to you. This is the inspiration that helps you set more authentic goals for the new year and beyond. So savour it.
QUESTION 4: What were the challenges or disappointments that you experienced?
Be aware of the emotions that are associated with these when you reflect on them. This awareness will help you to start getting in touch with those underlying beliefs that drive your anger, fear, feelings of not being good enough or perfect enough, etc.
QUESTION 5: Following from the challenges or disappointments that you noted in question 4:
Can you identify any development opportunities?
– What were the strengths and gifts that pulled you through?
– Any changes you want to make?
– Is there anything that you want or need to do differently?
END OF YEAR REFLECTION AND REVIEW: LOOKING FORWARD
QUESTION 6: If you had to pick 3-5 most meaningful moments of this year, what would they be?
This allows you to clarify what’s important and allows you to focus on where you spend your time and energy.
QUESTION 7: Take time now and reflect on how you spent your time and energy during the year.
Are these the things that matter most to you?
QUESTION 8: What do you want to spend your time and energy on in the coming year? Use the following filters to help you focus. What do you want to:
– do less of?
– eliminate completely?
– do more of?
– start doing?
– keep doing?
QUESTION 9: How can I best use my talents and strengths in the coming year?
By making a list of what you’re good at, you can identify where you can put them to better use in your life and at work. This allows you to be more purposeful with your time and energy.
Similarly, what skills do you want to grow? Where will I stretch myself to grow and learn more?
QUESTION 10: How do I define my success for the coming year and beyond?
Look at each area of your life (family, career, finances, health and well-being, etc) and define what success looks like in each domain.
Then prioritise what’s important to you. Be realistic and build your dream rather than go it all at once and be overwhelmed.
Here’s a useful workbook to download that will help you further with your goal-setting and taking control of your life.
The end-of-year reflection and review is a powerful exercise as it shifts our minds in terms of how we experienced the past year and how we want to experience the coming year. This shift is around looking for growth opportunities and awareness of how we’re showing up in our lives.
It also offers valuable insights into where our growth zones are and how we can stretch ourselves to be and do more in our lives. By being honest with ourselves, we can set goals that inspire us and help us stretch our comfort zones to grow and thrive, no matter what we experience throughout the year. Goals for the coming year are not left to new year’s resolutions on 31 December, but a more purposeful approach to life.
An important point I’d like to leave you with as you do this reflective exercise: be compassionate with yourself. This means no judgement or criticism; only look at it from a growth perspective. When we reflect on the “failures” or our shortcomings, we naturally step into that judgemental space – giving our inner critic more power. (Here’s an article (or 14min video) with 4 steps to start taming that inner critic.)
When we approach our process with compassion, we take an objective stance without letting “failures” define us. This allows us to accept ourselves and that we are consistently growing and learning. And remember, this is your life which means your rules. Don’t stay trapped in that straightjacket that keeps your inner awesome trapped.
If you need help connecting the dots or help with your goal-setting process, let’s have a chat.