This time of year, the days between Christmas Day and the New Year, I naturally turn to reflecting on the current year, and on the new year to come.
How do I feel about the year that’s about to end? Generally a good year? Not so good? Did anything go well, and what could I have done differently?
What plans do I have for January? Do I want to change how I go about my day-to-day routines? What big plans do I have for the whole year, what do I want to achieve?
I love to write it all down.
I find writing cathartic, whether it’s a blogpost, the day’s to-do list, big plans for the future or simply getting down on paper how I’m feeling. Reflecting in this way is therapeutic, getting it all out of my head, and down on paper. It’s a way of processing my thoughts.
There’s such freedom in writing. Random words, imagined conversations, massive crazy dreams. Writing down how you really feel about something, and would never dare tell anyone.
Also it can help you come up with solutions. Getting down all possible options, making a massive plan of all the steps it will take to do something.
Here are a few writing exercises I’ll be doing over the next few days, that you might want to try.
1. When reflecting back over the past year, a really nice exercise is to think of and write down all the things I’m proud of. What did I overcome, or survive? When did I do something that took courage. What did I find a solution to? Was there a situation I dealt with well? Who did I help? In which moments did I cheer myself on and get something done?
Those times you’ve felt nervous, or unequipped or unqualified, you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome – but then you did it and it was fine? That time you were assertive when usually you’d give in. That time you tried something new and loved it.
It can be hard at first, but if you push yourself to list every little thing you’re proud of, most of us can come up with quite a list.
2. It’s also great to consider moments of peace, contentedness, happiness, or joy during the past year. It doesn’t have to be something big, like an amazing holiday or event. Rather, those brief moments.
For example a lovely unexpected exchange with someone you didn’t know. A time you chose to do what you wanted over what someone else expected of you – and you relished in the moment. That time you took a few minutes from your busy day to sit on a bench in the sun and close your eyes, enjoying a feeling of peace.
If things aren’t going particularly well at the moment, thinking back over what you are proud of, and those little moments of joy, can help you get perspective. It wasn’t all doom and gloom – there were great moments.
3. Compare how you feel right now, with how you felt this time last year. How have things moved on? What are you pleased about? What are you frustrated at? If things haven’t gone as you’d like, you can spend some time reflecting on what you need to do to bring about change.
4. And on to what’s to come. What are my immediate plans for January, what do I want to get sorted at the start of the year? What’s bugging me? What practical things do I want to sort out, or what changes can I make to my routine?
(Download my morning routines guide here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!)
5. Equally important – what do I want to enjoy or try in January in order to start off the year well? January’s the month where I like to hibernate, so which films do I want to watch, which books do I want to read, which recipes do I want to try cooking?
6. Longer term – what big plans do I have for the year, work wise, health wise, financially, personally, emotionally? However big or however long I think they might take to fulfil, I write it all down. I’m a big believer in being clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, and writing it down. For more help on this, see my vision boards guide here: How to create a vision board.
So there we go, a few tips on taking the time to reflect, reassess and plan. I hope these tips inspire you.
If you realise you need help in making this year different, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.