the art of the annual reflection 

While it’s so tempting to catapult yourself into new habits, new foods, new ________ all in the name of “new year new you;” however, I dare you to pause and reflect instead. How rebellious! 

Why? Because reflection is the most targeted catalyst of both celebration [honoring how far you’ve come], gratitude for all you have and a more accurate audit of your habits. 

Below I have a beautiful, tried and true annual reflection tutorial. Savor the process of making your way through each prompt and only at the very end is it time to define the spaces of growth to pursue in 2023. You will be delighted by the fact that you discover prompt by prompt that you are indeed right where you need to be and a new year is simply another invitation to celebrate just that. 

step one: catalogue the year

Start by first looking at your calendar from just the past year to take stock of trips you took or accomplishments you’re proud of, just big massive things you’ve done this year.

Twelve months is a long time and it’s easy to forget big moments, whether it’s travel, time with family, work, goals, friendships. 

Even your relationship with food, which can ebb and flow just like any other area of your life, deserves celebration. Notice what you now embrace that maybe didn’t have a place in your life last year. 

In order to fully honor the breadth of experience wrapped up into a year, I look at everything [especially my iCal] for events and dates and appointments. I also flip through my journal for hints at what my year ended up filling up with. 

It’s truly a fascinating process to see what you spent the bulk of your time on. It’s the ultimate value audit. But remember! We’re doing this through the lens of celebration not criticism. 

The goal is simply to take stock of what happened– the good, the bad, the ugly, the up and down, and in between. We’re simply building a memoir of 2022.

Here are some of my favorite categories I use to build a catalogue of the year:

  • trips taken/places traveled
  • big highlights of the year
  • most meaningful time[s] you said “no”
  • most meaningful time[s] you said “yes”
  • song[s] of the year that sums it all up
  • best investment you made this year for yourself [a time, experience, program, book, etc]
  • best meals you cooked at home
  • best sparkliest treat you savored to the fullest [sans an ounce of guilt or shame – yay YOU!]
  • best hobby or way you spent time at home you never would have had time for before
  • the times // places you felt most at peace
  • most creative surprise you planned for someone [or received from someone special!]

step two: ditch what no longer serves you

Now that I have a repertoire of reflections, I answer these 4 questions [same questions I ask myself annually so that I can compare from year to year]: 

  1. What things were definite YES’s!?!; the things that were so life-giving and such a great use of your time and energy? Make a list of them. These are great to keep fresh in your mind for the next year. 
  2. What things weren’t worth the time, energy, stress, or mental space that they took up in your life? This is key to stop yourself from making the same mistakes next year and get more ruthless about where and what you’re spending your precious energy on. This is a list of what no longer serves you. 
  3. Write down 25 things you are proud of this past year. It can be anything. Don’t be modest – too often we brush things aside that do mean a lot to us- even if they are smaller seeming things. If you get any spark of joy or a smile from it, write it down. 
  4. Pick a word or phrase that summarized the year, overall. Keep this word positive though! It’s easy [especially this year] to use words like “bleak.” But what word or phrase can you use to celebrate what growth you experienced. 

step three: share the celebrations with someone you love

Now is the fun part… go share your reflections with someone you love and trust. There’s a certain beauty in saying these things out loud– not to brag, but to truly let them all sink in. To be encouraged, celebrated and to motivate you to do more of the things that matter to you in life. 

Kind of fun right?

I like to make it pretty. And I like to write all of this in the same journal that I wrote last year in [snd the year before that]. It’s such a great way to reflect on how much you’ve grown from year to year. 

Ok! Year in review, done. 

step 4: imagine what this next year holds [optional, but notice we didn’t skip right ahead to what to change!]

  1. I want you to imagine that it’s December 31, 2023, one year from right now, and thinking through and imagining it was a year of deep celebration; one that you are so proud of!  What made it that way? Write it down.
  2. What did you do differently in 2023 to make it so? 
  3. What did you have to let go of, shift, and change in order to actually show up in the ways you’re wanting to in every area of your life? Write it down. 
  4. Pick a word for 2022. Write that down too- how you want to feel, a mindset you want to take on, or a way you want to show up. What is this year about for you? 

Ok, that’s a wrap!

Are there any themes you found? Nuggets [or even little flakes] of gold? Whether you had any tremendous “aha” moments or not reflections are treasures in and of themselves. Reflection defines your values and values root you in how you want to live and what you are willing to defend to be the truest most powerful version of yourself.  

Whenever you feel like you need a boost, pull it out again and remind yourself where you want to go, and what needs to happen for you to do so. 

I personally keep these annual reflections around and review them monthly. 

Reflection not perfection breeds a deep and meaningful life.

Whether it’s the next month, year, or 10 from now. Living your best life requires some planning, mindfulness and intention, but it’s always always worth it. You are worth it. And you got this, sister. 

2023, here we come!

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