How to Reflect on the Last Year

If your brain works like mine, you can’t take on 2018 until you’ve “processed” 2017.

I’ve learned over the last few years the value in taking these steps. Even if you can’t get it all done by January 1st. Guess what? If the planning police pull you over, they can’t really give you a ticket.

The new year can be overwhelming for us planning types. So I want to let you off the hook. It’s okay to not be perfect about your planning.

But the point of this post is to give you some tips on how to look back on the year that just was. So you can have a starting point for your 2018 goals.

1. Review your “what I learned” lists.

This will be my second year doing these lists from Emily P. Freeman. You can download the lists from Emily’s website and print them out, then tape them inside your journal. When something hits you, flip over and add it to the list. The lists are seasonal, so there are four for each year.

2. Look back at photos from the past year.

There are two places I like to review: Instagram and iPhoto. (This way you can review your filtered life and your unfiltered life.)

3. Make a list of highlights from the past year.

Your photos will help you do this. Don’t feel like you have to boil it down to a “top 10” or anything like that. And by the way, “highlights” don’t have to be only good things. Because negative experiences have a lot of power in shaping our character, they deserve to remember. So if you screwed something up, or if something sad happened, include that too.

4. Make a list of the books you read.

I know some people keep lists of books as they read them. That’s a great idea. I just scroll back through my Kindle app, Audible, and glance at my bookcase.

5. Make a list of the songs you listened to the most.

I get this list from Spotify. They compile a “best of” for you in December, looking back at your most requested songs from that year.

Side note about me: I get really stuck with music and listen to the same songs over and over and over. For years.

6. Do a SWOT exercise. 

I’m borrowing this from the corporate world. Businesses typically do SWOT exercises (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) to assess how their strategic plan is working, and to justify budget planning.

If you’re married, I suggest doing this with your spouse. Take an inventory of what’s going well in your life, what’s not going well, what you would like to change. Check your ego at the door. Be brave. Be vulnerable.

7. Look back at the goals/resolutions you set, and see how you did.

Don’t let yourself be all judgy here. Let’s be honest. You sat down with that shiny new planner this time last year and sketched out some hopefuls without knowing how the chapters would unfold. It’s okay. What’s really cool is if you see what you *did* accomplish, you can see who you *are becoming* and that’s what really matters anyway.

I do not suggest rolling over resolutions unless you’d also like to roll over shame. It’s okay to revisit them, and if the thought of accomplishing them gives you joy – and not shame – cool. Otherwise, live and learn, sister.


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