End of year reflection: Close the door to 2020, in preparation for a clean slate in 2021

When any year comes to a close, we're filled with a level of excitement in us that only seems to crop up at this time of year.

Excitement for a brand new chapter, a clean slate.

12 new months ahead, housing strong intentions to make this year better than ever with new goals and new targets to hit.

But, what is fueling this excitement?

Was 2019 better than you had planned? Great!

Or, was 2019 an "I don't want to talk about it" type of year, and you're glad to see the back of it?

If your 2020 intentions are fueled by a negative outlook on the last 12 months or, the last decade, your potential to make meaningful progress is shot.

A quote that comes to mind here is, "We think too much and feel too little" as said by Charlie Chaplin.

We think too much about what could lie ahead, and forget to absorb those good and bad moments that made us who we are today. These are opportunities and lessons we can reflect on, so we know what to do or, what not to do, to achieve success for the future.

Every experience, every moment we face is a lesson, and a lesson will keep presenting itself to you until you commit and finally take a stab at it.

So, take some time now to ponder the year that was...

You can rely on social media for an algorithmic yearly wrap of everything you were game enough to commit to cyber history. And while all of this is terribly nostalgic, was 2019 really the year you thought it would be?

Whether you experienced successes beyond your wildest dreams or became a stronger person for the hardships you endured.

Reflect on the past year so the New Year is full of greatness and fireworks Credit: Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Reflect, plan, make way for improvements

Reflecting on what you took from 2019 is the best way you can prepare to make this year even better.

Whether you are planning on one-upping what was a brilliant year or turning a shit-storm into something more manageable...

To help you reflect on your year that was, we have put together some questions, activities, and resources to help you peer into the mirror of 2019.

You will notice that a lot of these exercises revolve around the written word, but for good reason, committing these valuable reflections to paper make it easy to revisit your memories, achievements, and regrets in future. Even if you never look at them again, research says recording these things helps to drill them in.

Tending the garden of life

Take some time on your own to contemplate your personal life with a blank piece of paper or file and make a list with three headings;

  1. Flowers (what did you love)
  2. Weeds (what would you leave out)
  3. Fertilizer (what could you add or improve)

This exercise is best for those who are new to the art of reflection.

Here is a worksheet to help you with tending the garden of life.

The garden of life

Ask yourself the following questions

  1. How did I grow in the past year?
  2. What was the single biggest challenge I overcame?
  3. Who needs to be acknowledged in my life? Is there anyone I should express gratitude to for what they have done for me or helped me with over the past 12 months.
  4. What were my most memorable, stand-out moments?
  5. Pick three words someone close to me would use to describe this year?
  6. What was the best thing I learned?
  7. What was I most grateful for?
  8. What was my single biggest time waster this year?
  9. Name a song that would be my soundtrack to the past year.
  10. Name the year. 2019 the year of...

If you want to make this a fun, reflective family/friend discussion write out the questions on pieces of paper put them in a bowl and take turns at answering them.

This exercise is best for those who need a little guidance in their reflection or for groups of people who wish to get to know each other a little better.

Here is a template to help you with this exercise, there is also a layout for cutting out the questions to use with friends and family.

Questions to ask yourself

Write a meaningful letter

Throughout life we all have moments where we really crave the advice of another human but, for various reasons, we decide not to ask (fear of sounding stupid, acceptance that we are the masters of our own destiny and only we can make the decision, trepidation that it might not be the answer we truly desire).

Why not take the opportunity to share a little of the worldliness you have acquired over the past 12 months. Sit down and write a letter to someone who might benefit from your insights (your children, a niece or nephew, a friend), either now or in the future.

You might include;

  • Some advice from the lessons you learned.
  • How you have found success or happiness in life.
  • The little things they might be likely to overlook or take for granted.

This exercise is best for those who would like to pass on some of the lessons they feel were important in their year. Perhaps someone who feels they would benefit from such a letter themselves occasionally.

If you aren't sure who you would write to, you might like to write to your future self. Record some memories, important experiences, what you learned, hopes and fears from the last 12 months and put it away for another day to read over.

Here is a rundown of the exercise and an example and here is a template for you to use.

Write a meaningful letter

Let go. Not every year is a good one...

Things go wrong, loved ones fall ill, friends part company, we fall in proverbial holes.

This might sound very negative after all the exercises that have come before but recognizing what isn't working for you is very positive.

What are you holding onto from the past 12 months that are no longer serving you well?

What, in your life, doesn't work? What is causing you pain? What is making you angry?

Recognize these things and consider what holding on to them brings you. None of the things that grate us have a positive impact on our lives and holding onto them definitely doesn't have a positive effect on those around us.

Letting go is vital to create space for new experiences, shed excess baggage.

It is time to release the things that bother you...

  1. Write all the things you want to let go of on a piece of paper. Nail biting, an unreasonable ex, a frustrating parent...
  2. Accept it bothers you but that you can't change it.
  3. Practice compassion. Understand that behind everything that frustrates you is another person who has a reason for behaving the way they do.
  4. Safely destroy that list. Release yourself from the burden of resentment.
  5. From now on, be aware of the present moment and enjoy it.

The exercise is best for people who find themselves focusing all their energy outward. You are tired, you are irritable, you need to release.

Once you've taken a moment to sit and reflect, the door to 2019 can be closed.

Now, jump over to the next post in this series and learn how to set some new year goals you can actually achieve!