My pastor has a saying that goes something like "How you exit is how you enter." How you end this year is how your begin next year.
At the end of each year I read through that year's journal, review my plans/project notes, and reflect on my relationships. I'd like to say this is a quaint experience, with tea in hand by a fireplace. The reality is that I move from office to kitchen table to the local library, as I really dig in for several hours over the course of a week.
Here are the questions I answer:
- What are the themes I see? (Topics that come up regularly? Both growth and struggles.)
- What are the lessons to carry forward?
- Is there any change I am currently in that I need to handle differently?
- Is there any change coming up this next year for which I need to prepare?
- Is there any change coming up over the next 7 years for which I need to prepare? (I got this idea from a friend who said "Don't think of life in 10 year markers - ages 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and so on. Think of life in 7 year markers - ages 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63 and so forth, because it is easier on the ego and our bodies change more at those markers than at 10 years." I don't know if her reason is true, but the 7 year markers work well for me.)
- Were there any difficult times this year that I need to understand better?
- What relationships do I want to add? Subtract? Why?
- Evaluate: My systems, resources, motivation-passion-joy
- For what am I grateful?
- What are successes and fun events to celebrate? (And how will I celebrate them?)
Because I refer back to my journals periodically, I also add a table of contents (by theme) to my journals. It has been fun over a few years to see certain themes become less frequent (such as the diet mentality) and others become more focused (such as mindfulness/intention).
If you don't regularly journal or keep notes from your year, just go to your social media sites to get triggers to answer your questions.
After reflection, then it is time to plan the next year ... I'll share that process next.
For now, go grab of cup of tea as you reflect on your successes and lessons this year.