Looking forward, looking back: December self-reflection guide
So you’ve recovered from the food coma, the bin is full of wrapping paper, and you are pleased to know that you won’t be hearing Jingle Bell Rock again for a good eleven months. Your mind drifts to New Year’s Eve, and you begin to mull over potential resolutions, and wonder what next year might hold. However, before looking forward, we urge you to pause and look back on the year that is drawing to a close. Now is an opportune time to reflect on your progress, goals and life in general.
Reflection is a hugely beneficial process; but it is something that is often overlooked in favour of planning the next goal, resolution, or journey. Having a plan for the future is important, however, the future is a great unknown, while your past provides a wealth of lessons that can be used to support your future success. By practicing self-reflection you are able to clarify what it is that brings you excitement, joy and fulfilment, and guide your future decision-making using this knowledge.
We encourage you to take some time over the next week to reflect in a meaningful way on your year. Sit outside with a cold drink and journal, and use the below questions to guide your reflection.
1. What was the highlight of your year?
Write about it in your journal, and focus on what made the moment special, and most importantly the feelings associated with it.
2. What were your successes in 2017?
It is important to celebrate even the smallest of wins and to be thankful for the opportunities that led to your success. Write a list of at least 3 things that you are proud of this year and then let yourself marinate in satisfaction and gratitude!
3. Where did you fail?
Let me tell you that it is ok to fail, everyone does, and in fact some of the richest life lessons come from failure. When thinking about this, pull at least one lesson from each failure and write it in your journal.
4. Think about what you wish you had achieved this year, and then consider the reasons why you didn’t get there.
What were the hesitations or fears? What can you do differently? Or perhaps the reason you didn’t pursue the resolution/goal is because it didn’t feel juicy and thrilling in the first place? Remember that the best goals/resolutions align with how you want to feel, the person you want to be, and the life you want to live.
5. If you could look into a crystal ball and view yourself in exactly a year’s time, what would you want to see?
Consider your vision for the end of next year; do you want to be in a different job; to be studying something new; to live in a different city/state/country? It is helpful to consider your values in this process as well; a plan that aligns with your values will be inherently more fulfilling and exciting than one that does not. Now go ahead and write down your wildest vision for your life next year. Don’t put limitations on yourself – if there is something you want to do and it makes your heart sing, go for it! If you find yourself thinking that your vision is too hard or too ambitious, ask yourself what is it about living that vision that generates resistance or fear?
When you have a clear vision for next year, you will need to break it into smaller goals. Goals are a manifestation of your vision. Next set your objectives; these are markers that you can use to measure if you are achieving your goals. For example:
Vision: To feel I am making a positive contribution to society, and helping those less fortunate than myself because compassion is one of my core values.
Goal: To volunteer for a non-profit organisation.
Objectives: To research non-profits in my area that align with my interests and skills; to apply for a volunteer role; to begin volunteering twice a week.
As part of this process, you may like to create a vision board to provide a visual reminder of who you want to be, where you want to be, and how you want to feel. If you would like vision board inspiration, we highly recommend Martha Beck’s vision boarding process.
As a glorious new year stretches ahead, remember that life happens for you, not to you. Create the life you want to lead.
With love and best wishes for the festive season,
The Inkling Women team