It can be tempting to avoid looking back at the year, especially if you feel that 2016 didn’t bring the change, growth or (fill in the blank) you were working towards. I get that.
I’ve been there many times. But, in reality, while you and I may not have seen the big changes we were hoping for, things have happened. Sometimes it takes a bit of digging up to see the good stuff.
In this post, I share what I do at the end of the year to reflect back and move forward. There are three things I look at: my calendar, my pictures and journal entries. I would love to hear how your practices for wrapping the year up. I break up the activity in a couple of afternoons or in a day over New Year’s weekend.
If you’ve never intentionally spent time taking stock of the past year, I encourage you to try it out. It can be an enlightening process.
Look Back at Your Calendar
I start by reviewing my calendar of the last year. Go through what you’ve done, the people you’ve seen, the work you’ve accomplished. Most likely you will find several accomplishments and things you were proud of, both personal and professional.
I’m pretty good about writing stuff down or putting them in Google. If you haven’t done this, maybe it’s something you want to include in 2017. Writing stuff down helps us remember it better later on.
I called 2016 the year of the Family. I didn’t see a lot of the growth I wanted to in my life, but I played a part in helping those really important people go through a huge transition and boy, did I see that in my calendar! Being able to live close to family and help them in very practical ways this year is something I’m grateful I could do. In a world that typically focuses on the outward achievements of business and money, let’s not underestimate the importance of being there for the ones we love. That’s worth its weight in gold.
How about the friendships and business relationships in your life? Did you make new friends this year? Develop relationships through networking? Have new opportunities because of the people you met , the conferences you attended, etc.
Sometimes when I do this, I’m inspired to jot off a quick note to a friend I shared a memorable meal or activity with, just letting them know how much I appreciated that dinner or the phone call or whatever. It encourages both of us.
I met one lovely woman who has been an incredible encouragement to me this year. Meeting her and getting to know her and share business ups and downs made all the uneventful networking events worth it!
Look through Your Pictures: phone, computer, instagram, facebook, etc.
Scrolling through pictures helps to bring a visual summary to the year. Family gatherings and trips came to vivid memory as I looked at the pictures taken.
By the way, this is a great moment to print some of those pictures out and send them to family or friends in a card, put them in a frame, or tuck them into your journal. I send a lot of my pictures to walmart via their online photo shop and pick up (or have delivered) gorgeous print photos.
Read through Journals
I don’t journal every day and sometimes I even skip a week or two, but when I do journal I write down thoughts, events, joys, gratitude lists, etc. If you journal, take a few hours and a cup of coffee and read through the entries. Doing this may bring insight into a way you or others in your life have changed. It can also provide clues into the direction you want to head in the next year.
Spend time in silence and notice what comes up
Parker Palmer says the soul is like a wild animal. It doesn’t come out when we are crashing around, making a lot of noise. Instead, it waits for a quiet moment and then it makes an appearance. After reflecting, I spend time in quiet and see what comes to the surface.
Sometimes really amazing things come to mind. Other times, nothing happens!
For more on this, I highly recommend, Ruth Haley Barton’s book, Silence and Solitude.
Take a few minutes to give thanks for the past year and all it brought to you
No matter what has happened, let’s finish out the year thankful for where we’ve been, the people we’ve shared life with, the books we’ve read, the experiences we’ve had. It sounds cliché, but we know it’s true: an attitude of thanks does nothing but good.
Looking Forward to the New Year
This past year some people in my family went through some challenging transitions. I chose to spend many hours, nights and weekends helping them and I’m happy I did it. Now as I look to the next year, there are a few other things that will require my attention if I’m to thrive in the coming years. It requires that shifting away from some activities to give more time, space and effort to new things.
Going through the end of the year reflection helps me appreciate where I’ve been, notice what didn’t get done and make adjustments for the new year. I love starting with a fresh slate in January.
I wish you a peaceful and hopeful finish to this present year.
See you next year!