Stretching and Reflecting

As your year draws to a close it’s important to take stock in the previous year. Before jumping to set your new goals, look back on the last 12 months in order to recalibrate for the future. The point of writing down goals is not to add stress to yourself with inflexible expectations or limitations like “must lose 10 pounds or else!!” but to to stretch and grow you as you focus your aim for the upcoming year. But just as equally important as goal-setting is reflecting on what your past year was like and what you’ve accomplished. In essence then, life is a series of growth and reflection periods.

In your reflection process, look at these 3 areas to help take inventory of the year.  

1) People and Relationships

As you reflect back, think about your most important relationships and the ones you’re proudest of. Ask yourself these questions: Who are you grateful for in your life this past year? Who has helped you move forward? How did you feel when you were with them? Equally important, who are some people that you’ve made an impact on? Did you help them propel them forward in some aspect of their life? Also think about the new relationships you’ve formed. What is the quality of people that you’re meeting?

2) Experience

In addition to our relationships, we can see how our experiences in the past year have helped to shape us. Experiences can be both events and places you’ve been to. It may be helpful here to go through your planner or online calendar to give you some ideas. When reflecting back, think about what kind of emotions this experience created for you. What did you appreciate about it? Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to go back to that place or event again?

3) Growth

Everything together contributes to this last area, which is your growth. What were the things you were proudest of accomplishing this year? It may be not be your greatest achievement, but the best part of life is celebrating each small win (like learning how to cook a perfect grilled cheese sandwich). We also have the opportunity here to reexamine our “failures” (read: lessons) as passages of our growth. If you keep a journal, this could be helpful to review as well. What were the skills you picked up this year (flipping that grilled cheese)? What were the emotional or spiritual lessons you learned?

As you think back on all these areas, notice if there is a main theme emerging in your relationships, experiences and growth. Perhaps the theme is family or exploration or even reinvention. Finally, set a new theme you’d like to focus on for the new year. The most important thing is to have fun with this process.