The end of the year is in sight. Cue the inevitable deluge of column inches and TV time slots devoted to looking back on the year that was.
Much as we all love reminiscing over shows with titles something like I Heart 2015, there’s actually something we can learn from this global wave of nostalgia.
Each year is filled with good and bad things, happy and sad stuff, successes and failures. Instead of just blustering about shaking your head over where the time has gone, take this opportunity to look back on your year, what was important to you, what you did and didn’t get to do, and how you can feel happier this time next year.
Taking the time to reflect will help you process all that’s happened in the last 12 month whirlwind, and to figure out what would be important to you next year!
Here are a few questions to get you started.
How did I succeed this year?
The more self-deprecating among us might find this one hard to answer, but it’s important to congratulate yourself occasionally on a job well done. Your successes might have been achieving big work goals, or something small and personal, but don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the moments when you rocked it.
What made me the happiest?
What gave you the most enjoyment during the past year? Was it work, friends, family, travel or some simple aspect of just being in the world? Sometimes we race through life chasing pipe dreams and forget the important things that really make us happy. Once you realise what puts a smile on your face, resolve to do more of that!
What did I fail at?
This doesn’t have to be a negative question. Failing at something means you’re trying. As J.K. Rowling said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” Thinking about what you failed at might show you what you need to learn, and what you need to do to be successful next time.
What do I regret?
Regrets… we’ve all had a few. Think back on what you regret, and you’ll probably find that it’s not the mistakes you made, or the things you did. Regrets that hurt the most often revolve around opportunities passed up, things you left undone, and the words you didn’t say. Examining regrets can help you to create a contingency plan for how to avoid having them in future.
What did I learn?
One of the most beautiful things about being human is that we’re in a constant state of learning. Every day, we soak up information and knowledge and get to know new people. Did life teach you any lessons this year? Take some time to consider them and let them help you grow.
What will I do differently in the coming year?
Poets have a knack for hitting the nail of the head. Keep in mind this oft-repeated line by Victorian wordsmith, William Ernest Henley: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul”. You are the only person who can control your actions. Indeed, you are the only thing you can really control at all. Choose your attitude, and plan to actively change behaviours that you dislike in yourself.
Where do my goals stand right now?
Creating internal goals and striving for them is part of what drives the human race forward. Think about your own goals, and whether you reached them this year. How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished? Assess the status of the goals that you didn’t reach yet, and ask yourself how you want to achieve them, if indeed you still do. It’s perfectly fine to let go of things that don’t move you anymore. Is there a way you can put more time or effort into the ones that do matter to you?
What do I need to do more of?
Is there something that you need to do more of? Would you like to travel more, save more money, or spend more time on activities that make you happy? Whatever it is, think about ways to fit more of what you want into your life.
What do I need to stop doing?
None of us are without our bad habits. The start of a new year offers a great opportunity to kick bad habits and take up good ones. Don’t forget, when you’re trying to break (or create) a habit, start small and be consistent.
What are my new goals for this year?
Goals don’t all have to be enormous and world-conquering. Take the time to review what you really want and set goals for the year. Modifying existing ones is totally fine, and make sure that what you want to do is achievable, or you’ll just lose motivation. Nothing is set in stone, and your goals should be adaptable because you don’t know what the year will throw at you. Whatever they are, focus on your own personal fulfillment and you’re most likely to achieve something really worthwhile!
Good luck, and here’s to a new year of adventures!
Featured image: Gorilla Thinking by Eric Kilby