Happy holidays to you and your family!
Each year, I share some key principles regarding how I personally end each year—both with a time of reflection on the current year and a look ahead to the coming year. I hope that some of you find it helpful as you reflect on the year that was and anticipate the one that’s to come.
For those who aren’t familiar with my process, I take time each year over the holidays to do the same two exercises: on New Year’s Eve I reflect back on the year; then on New Year’s Day I take time to create my plan for the coming year.
I so look forward to these few hours each holiday. They’ve become a special time for me and my family, and now they’ve become a habit that we look forward to with great anticipation!
Looking back on the year gives me the chance to pause to celebrate and appreciate all that transpired. My reflection process is the same each year:
The first thing I do is read all of my journal entries from the year. I typically journal a few times a week and write about things going on in my world. If you haven’t developed the habit of journaling, I highly recommend it.
Reading my journal entries reminds me of all the things I did, experiences I had, and things I felt along the way. While I’m reading, if I come across something noteworthy, I add it to one of my year-in-review categories.
My seven review categories are:
- Accomplishments (most are related to goals I set at the start of the year)
- Highlights (my favorite memories from the year)
- Top books I read and top movies / documentaries I watched
- Special people I met or connected with
- Ways I helped others
- Things I learned
- Desired outcomes not achieved (i.e., where did I miss the mark?)
I find my journal entries really helpful, as I wouldn’t possibly remember everything from the year for each of these categories. (Speaking of categories, create your own based on what’s important to you … ).
As a side note, my wife and kids do this exercise without reviewing a journal from the year. So, having a journal isn’t essential.
Once I’ve filled a few pages in my journal with my review from the year, we sit down as a family and share everything we wrote. (You can do this exercise with your entire family, an individual family member, or a friend). Then we take time to give thanks and appreciate all the things that took place in the past year.
The year ahead
Looking ahead gives me the opportunity to think about who I want to be and what I want to accomplish in the coming year. It’s a time for me to dream…
My four year-ahead categories are:
- Systems or habits I want to develop (related to health, finances, faith, etc)
- Goals (related to holidays/trips, home improvements, giving, etc)
- People I want to spend time with (family, friends, mentors)
- Areas I want to grow in (which influences the books I’ll read, etc. …)
To understand what I mean by “Systems or habits,” read this short post by my favorite blogger, James Clear. James was one of our speakers at a recent PGC Snaps event, and he spoke at length about habit development. You can check out his Snaps talk here.
Once I have written in my journal on these topics, I do my best to get specific and measurable by adding a “how” and “when” under each “what” (where possible). This is an important first step in turning the vision for my upcoming year into a reality.
To ensure your ambitions for the year don’t turn into New Year’s resolutions that die within weeks, I recommend reading other posts by James Clear.
If you want to make this process part of your year-end wrap up and kick off to a new year, here’s how to do it:
- Pick up a journal to write in for the year and use it to capture your year-end review and new year plan.
- Share your review and plans with a family member or friend.
- Start the habit of writing in your journal each night or every few days.
If you plan to utilize this process, or if this post has been helpful, please let me know below. I also welcome any additional ideas you may have.
All the best in the new year!
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