Reflecting on the Year

By Sarah Spitz, LMSW

I have always enjoyed setting aside time to reflect and set intentions for each new year. Back in 2013 I came across an article on Mind Body Green titled, “25 questions to ask yourself before the end of the year.” I answered these questions in a journal, and have found myself coming back to reflect on this list each year.  While these questions may not be for everyone, there are a number of takeaways from the article that I wanted to share as we approach 2017.

Create a Ritual
Whether formal or informal, making a point to spend time reflecting before each year is important. Maybe you like to journal, or you prefer art and creating a vision board, or simply finding a quiet place to think.  If we dedicate a short amount of time to taking stock of the past 12 months, we can set ourselves up for success in the new year. 

Focus on the Positives and the Negatives
Often new year's resolutions are based on what we feel we lacked in or failed at in the past year. What I love about the 25 questions is that it includes the opportunity to give ourselves credit for our strengths and what we have accomplished. While there are questions such as, “How have I procrastinated?”  and “How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?” there are also questions like “What am I most proud of this year?” and “When did I feel most creatively inspired?”  We can learn not only from our mistakes, but also the moments that we excelled.  From these reflective and open-ended questions, we can begin a dialogue with ourselves about how we would like approach the new year. 

Focus on the Different Areas of Your Life
In addition to reflecting on your past year as a whole, it’s also beneficial to look at each area of your life — career, health, relationships, etc.  Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses in each area.  Are there some areas where you are feeling stuck? Can you identify things that you did well in one area that can be applied to other facets of your life? From here you can figure out where you need to make changes in the year ahead. 

In our reflections it is important to include compassion for ourselves. It is easy to beat ourselves up and feel that we need to set strict guidelines and rules for our upcoming year. So I love the question, “Where do I need to allow myself grace?” We are human and we make mistakes.  It’s natural. If we learn to be kind to ourselves and leave space for forgiveness, we will be better equipped to venture outside of comfort zones and pursue our goals in the future. 

While we all have our own process for making resolutions or setting intentions, I feel that a reflection of the past year is a great place to start. 

Sarah Spitz is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy.  If you would like support with changes in the new year visit to learn more how therapy can help.