It’s the time of year when I begin to wind down, wrap up and take a mindful look at the year I just experienced.
For me, that year-end review always starts with celebrations and successes. I’m a firm believer in leading with the positive for the simple reasons that this gets better results and is more fun than the alternatives.
I like to keep a running success list throughout the year, so my personal process involves reviewing that list and savoring the goals that I achieved, the things I’ve learned, the areas in which I’ve grown. Often, just looking at the list sparks me to think of more that can be added.
It’s a great wake-up call that, even when life is full, chaotic, challenging or messy, there are still successes. Successes defined by me.
It’s also easy to see where my time and energy have gone over the last 12 months.
I always incorporate rewards as part of my review because I like to be rewarded for my successes, and that’s something that starts at home. With me. (Again, it’s fun.)
There’s a science to this. Savoring and reminiscing positive experiences is a delicious—and proven–way to increase your positivity.
It’s also something we often skip as we scurry off towards the setting new goals or juggle challenging circumstances.
Once that’s complete, I look at the areas where I fell short of my goals, redirected my energy, felt disappointed or challenged. I make a list. It may seem unlikely that there will be anything worth celebrating here, but there always is.
I find it by asking why that experience happened and how it could potentially serve me going forward.
I explore what I might have learned along the way and what, if any, changes need to be made.
I leave any to-do items or ideas that are no longer relevant to me behind.
More often than not, there is a positive takeaway. Finding it offers a far more effective motivator for the year ahead than dwelling on what did not happen the way it was “supposed to” happen.
Mining the lessons learned gets us further, faster, than beating ourselves up for perceived shortcomings or dwelling on disappointments.
Now it’s your turn
If you’d like to do your own mindful year-end review, here’s a simple way to do that. You can write it all down in a fancy planner, a journal or on a piece of paper— or even consider the questions on a long walk or over a cup of tea.
Reflection doesn’t need to become a Big Project to deliver its value. Simply ask yourself these questions:
- What were your (small and large) successes this year?
- What did you learn, experience, create or achieve?
- What did you do or believe that helped create those successes?
- What support made a difference for you this year?
- Where did your strengths and values shine most brightly?
- Where did you fall short or face challenges?
- Where are you (genuinely) grateful for the challenge?
- What did you do or believe that may have held you back?
- What part of you or your experience are you ready to let go?
- What did you discover that will serve you well next year?
- What new decisions will you make as a result?
Whether your year was a stellar one or you’d rather see the back of it as quickly as possible, I encourage you to take a mindful pause at the year-end, before charging off into setting any goals for the next one.
How you frame your year– and what you carry forward— is all about focus and intention. It’s a decision. And that focus, intention and decision-making will be the most important foundation for the year you create next.