Reflect on Your Year

On December 31st social media gets filled with end-of-year reviews that showcase the highlights of the year passed. Is it really worth taking time to reflect on your year or is this just another social media trend to take part in?

Some say that the year change is a trivial thing and no one should set new goals or reflect on their lives just because the calendar says so. But then again, people have for thousands of years structured time and their lives through rituals, ceremonies, and rites of passage. I guess it’s in our nature to examine our lives – both the past and the future – through different kinds of milestones and divide our life into passages.

Self-reflection and introspection are skills that are useful every day of the year, but we don’t always have time for them in our fast-paced lives. Also, for many the turn of the year marks a fresh start, and therefore it’s a good time to reflect on things.

It’s important to acknowledge our achievements and successes and recognise our learning. And it’s equally important to understand where we didn’t succeed, what we didn’t enjoy doing and what we could do better. Making time to consciously review these parts of our lives can inspire us to learn and better understand ourselves, help us move forward, plan the year ahead, and set new goals (or keep old ones that have served us well). 

Only through self-reflection will we learn what is really important to us and where we find joy and happiness, but also learn what to leave behind and what areas to improve on. To understand what we would like from the year ahead, it’s important to think about how the previous year went.

As stated in the article published in Psychology Today, year-end reflection is important for our transformation, growth, and change. In the article, Diana Raab (Ph.D.) says: “Reflection is a good habit to engage in and has many benefits: it can be transformative, it helps facilitate changes, and it increases our sense of self-awareness. … When we don’t examine our life, it’s easy to lose perspective about what really matters and open ourselves up to prolonged unhappiness.”

3 tips to help you reflect your year

  1. List all your achievements and celebrate them
    It’s normal for us humans to remember only our mistakes and ruminate on things that didn’t go as planned. But it’s important to also remember our accomplishments. This doesn’t have to mean completing huge projects or getting a promotion, even small everyday achievements are important. Think about all the things you got done and all the positive differences you made. This helps to increase motivation, resilience, and confidence and also helps to create a feeling of gratitude.
  2. Look at the parts of your life that you’re not happy with and learn from your mistakes
    None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, which is totally fine. We can’t be succesful in everything we do, but the important thing is to try and learn from our mistakes. Instead of criticizing yourself, try to be analytical about why you weren’t able to meet your goals. List the things that didn’t go your way or that you weren’t able to achieve and try to analyze what you can learn from the experience and what you can do better next time. This is essential for you to be able to improve and progress. Don’t think of these things as failures, but rather as things that you can learn from. Also, remember that you have overcome many challenges and tough situations and have developed new coping skills due to that.
  3. Think what is important to you and set realistic goals
    One reason why we don’t achieve our goals is because they aren’t aligned with our values or are not realistic. Determine if your old goals are still a priority to you or if it’s time to set new ones. Be honest with yourself and think about what is really important to you. What is it that you want more of and what do you want less of? What things bring value to your life and make you feel good about yourself? Also try bringing gratitude into the process, as there are many scientific benefits to experiencing gratitude.

Before wrapping things up, I want to remind everyone that even though we keep seeing these super positive end-of-year recaps that are full of happiness, good fortune, and success, it’s okay if your year wasn’t filled with them. Sometimes bad things happen, sometimes we are numb, sad, or afraid. Sometimes we just have to survive, and that is okay too. World is a scary place right now, but I hope everyone can find some happiness and peace in 2024.