Reflections on a year gone by

Woman sitting on a park bench looking out at the ocean.

As the year comes to a close, many of us like to look back on the months passed and reflect on what we’ve achieved.

Whether this has been a big year for you, or a year that has been a bit more ‘stock standard’, look closely and you are likely to find some valuable insights to take forward into the new year.

Taking time to reflect can be as simple as sitting down for 30 minutes with a cup of tea or coffee and writing down answers to a few of these questions below.

If you find yourself tempted to skip the writing part, try to resist. Not only is writing things down proven to commit your thoughts to memory*, it can have a positive effect on your wellbeing too#. So if you’re harbouring any negative thoughts, feelings or experiences from the past year, getting these out of your head and onto a page can help you process them, and move forward.

Grab your journal or notebook, and write down your answers to the below questions:

  • What am I most and least proud of? Often we feel proud when something is important to us and we’ve worked hard at it; whether it be raising a happy child, finishing an important project or taking our fitness to a new level. Writing down your biggest achievement is a good indicator of your values and what matters to you. The opposite can also be true. Our least proud moments can shine a light on the areas in which we don’t feel we’ve lived true to our values. While uncomfortable, reflecting on these moments can uncover some great clues on how you want to be in the coming year.
  • How did I surprise myself this year? Life has a habit of showing us just how capable we are. Whether it be need or desire that’s driving us, often we can surprise ourselves when we dig deep. In what way did you step up this year, to overcome a challenge, support someone or kick a goal? Perhaps your experiences this year helped you discover something new and interesting about yourself. Write it all down.
  • Where did I waste the most time? For many of us, time is a rare and precious commodity. Whittling away hours each week on something fruitless may have taken you away from achieving more this year. It may have distracted you from your goals or left you with less energy to direct towards the people you care about. Take a step back and acknowledge the precious hours you lost doing something that didn’t serve you this year.
  • Who should I have spent more and less time with? Is there someone in your life that lights you up? Could you have set more time aside to spend with your nearest and dearest? Or perhaps there is someone in your life that tends to have a negative influence on you. Doing an ‘audit’ of the people you’ve spent time with can help you set your intentions for the year ahead and make plans to spend more (or less) time with those around you.
  • What was the best and worst use of my money? As humans, often we don’t like to admit when we’ve made bad money choices. No matter how careful we are with the purchases we make, some just weren’t worth the money. Did you make a large purchase that you regret, or did you dip into savings when you shouldn’t have? On the flipside, is there something you invested in that was beneficial? Perhaps you hired a cleaner and it gave you back your Saturday mornings? Maybe you directed some surplus cash into super, or maybe buying a coffee machine saved you countless café-bought coffees. Large or small, often we make money choices that really make a difference.
  • What is the single most important thing I want to accomplish next year? Reflecting on your answers above, and your own desires for the coming year, reflect on the one thing that you believe will make a real, tangible difference to your life. Write down your number one goal, and brainstorm all the things that you can do to get closer and closer to it throughout the year.
  • If I had the time again, what do I wish I had done differently? A brand new year can be a time to reset. To wipe the slate clean, and start afresh. If you are harbouring any regrets from the past twelve months, call them out and make a commitment to do things differently next year.