How to Capture Your Most Important 2018 Life Lessons
Each year I share a series of thought provoking questions to help you look back and gather what you’ve learned from the past 12 months. You could call it a personal year-end review.
This practice of year-end reflection will help you feel complete with whatever has occurred over the year, if you’re ready. And if you’re not, which is okay too, it will help you see where you might need to heal or complete unfinished business.
Looking within and answering these questions will also help you move into the new year with greater clarity and more confidence. And it’s a powerful way to align with what’s true and meaningful for you, on an annual basis.
While it might seem early to start the process, I personally like to plant the questions like seeds in the back of my mind. I let them quietly germinate for a few weeks before I journal about them.
But you could also set them aside and complete them on New Year’s eve as a closing ritual for the year.
You can use these questions as writing or journaling prompts, or simply as points for reflection. Dig deeply if you wish. Or work with them lightly to paint an impressionistic picture of your year. Especially if your year was a tough one, like mine was, you might want to proceed gently and work with just a few questions at a time.
There isn’t one right way. One word answers are fine if that’s what suits you, or you can pour your heart out if that will help you make the most of your experiences over the year. Decide what’s best for you.
Because the mind has a negativity bias, you might immediately remember the bumpy times. It’s good to look at those, but don’t stop or get stuck there. Be sure to focus on the positive too. And throughout the process, always be kind and gentle with yourself.
Ready to explore the questions?
19 Questions That Will Help You End the Year Well
When you feel ready to spend time with these year-end questions, get cozy. Find a quiet corner, inspiring natural environment, or a stool at your favorite coffee shop. Then engage with the questions.
If you begin to feel tired or like it’s too much, set the questions aside and come back to them at another time. Let the process be organic. Don’t pressure y0urself to rush through.
Describe your year in a single word, sentence, or paragraph. Capture your first impressions. Then revisit your response at the end of your reflections and see if you’re initial impressions have changed.
Who/what were the significant people, events, and places in your life during the past 12 months?
What were the highlights of your year? The low points?
What did you feel passionate about this year?
What distracted you this year?
Did you have spiritual aspirations at the start of the year? If you did, which ones did you accomplish? Which ones are incomplete?
What would you like to forget about this year, if anything? Do you have any regrets? Anything you would like to have done differently?
What was the emotional tone of the year? What were the dominating emotional patterns? Don’t forget the good ones.
Capture your year as a color, a taste, a feeling, a visual or a smell.
Look through your photos and choose the ones that best represent the year. Write an evocative headline for each one of your favorites. Create a photo collage that represents the essence of your year.
Is there anyone to forgive, including yourself? What needs to be forgiven.
List your accomplishments for the year. Be generous with yourself!
What challenged you this year?
List your most important insights about your body, emotions, mind, spirit, work, finances, relationships, and anything else important to you. If you wrote in a journal, you could go through your entries to help you remember.
Did you choose a single word as your guiding star this year? If so, how did it go with your word? Did you remember it over the year? Did you bring it alive?
Which lessons, insights, perspectives, and new behaviors would you like to carry forward into the new year? What would you like more of the coming year? What would you like less of in the new year?
Is there anything you would like to complete before the start of the new year?
If you had known this year would be your last year on the planet, would you have done anything differently? If yes, what would that be?
Create your own questions about the past year.
Reminder: Look back at question 1 to see if your initial impressions have changed. If they have, add your new thoughts.
To be honest, my immediate response to question 1 - describe my year in one word - was “hell,” given that I lost my home, land, and so much more during the lava eruption on the Big Island. But I gained in inner strength and resilience, and have greater resolve to heal my deepest wounds.
Even though it’s been a hard year, I’m looking forward to gathering my insights over the coming weeks so I can let go of the past, turn a page on the trauma, and get a fresh start for the new year. I hope you find this year-end reflection process helpful too.
And if you need some support as you leap into the New Year, set overarching goals and launch new habits, you might want to read these posts:
Your Turn: What are some of your most important life lessons from this year? I would love to hear. Please share in the comments.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for Wild Arisings, my twice monthly letters from the heart filled with insights, inspiration, and ideas to help you connect with and live from your truest self.