Another year is coming to a close. The end of the year is a perfect time to look back on the twelve months that have passed and begin to look forward and set your intentions for the new year. Today, I want to focus on reflection.
What went well?
Look at the major focus areas of your life – work, health, family, friends, hobbies etc – and ask yourself: What went well? What were the highlights of your year, the moments you’ll think back on with a smile one day?
Try to think of 3 to 5 highlights of the year. That may seem like a small number but the goal here is to focus on just a few things that went well so that you will remember them as you go into the new year. The human brain can only retain about 7 pieces of information easily. After that, you need to start building a memory palace or use other memorization techniques to remember everything. As fun as top ten lists can be to build in your bullet journal, my goal is to take the highlights of the year forward and I can only take forward the things I can easily remember.
Less is more in this case, what are the few highlights of your year that you can look back on.
What could be improved?
Looking again at those same areas… what could have been improved? Try not to dwell in regret here. The intention is to look back for lessons to learn and opportunities for improvement. What lessons can you take from the year gone by?
In the same spirit as above, try to limit this lessons learned list to 3 to 5 items. Because of our natural negative bias, you’ll probably find it easy to rattle off a pile of things that could have gone better. The goal here isn’t to focus on the negative, it’s to find the 3 or 5 lessons you want to take into the new year.
I’d love to claim that I live without regret but regrets and second-guesses come as easily as breathing to me. It’s fine to write down all of the things that come to your mind that could have gone better. In fact, it can be incredibly cathartic to simply clear your mind of that negativity and write it down. One of my favorite practices is to write down my negative thoughts on a piece of paper and then watch that paper burn in the fire. It’s a great way to literally let go of what doesn’t serve you.
Most people want to jump right into planning for the new year but I invite you to take at least a day or two to really reflect on the year that has just passed. So many of us are so naturally focused on doing that we don’t take the time to simply reflect and appreciate our past.
Tomorrow I’ll walk you through exercises for setting an intention for the new year and a preview of the Bright Star focus on fitness in January.