Reflection & Closure – The Year That Was


Here Comes 2019

Yes, I know. There is a lot on your plate this week. You are likely dealing with last-minute commitments and the all the things you need to organize before the holiday break. It may not even feel real yet, or maybe doesn’t even seem possible, but 2019 is almost here!

Many people will be thinking about goal-setting next week. Are you one of them. I would suggest something is done first. I don’t believe you can set effective goals without doing some “reflecting” exercises first. Reflecting is the base before planning and creating your amazing year.

The First Step is Reflecting

Reflecting is what gives us closure. Reflecting is what allows us to look at what has been and prepares us for what can be. A fresh, new and exciting year. Reflection is the first step in wrapping up the year’s loose ends.

Finishing and completing our year is what gives us an inner state of peace, resolution, closure, and fulfillment.  “Releasing” the year in our mind helps remove any emotional charge that may be left in it.

Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous. ~ Confucius

There’s Power in Reflection

Self-reflection happens when we systematically ask ourselves thought-provoking questions.  The biggest benefit of self-reflection is that we gain a big-picture and clearer overview of our lives. A better understanding of our personal place, our life situations and how we impact our own thinking and feelings. This insight is what gives us the power to act more wisely in the future.

New understandings of ourselves lead to new thoughts, new thoughts lead to new emotions and that, hopefully, brings about new actions and behaviors. Self-reflection is about becoming a wiser person and a better-positioned individual who will act smartly, efficiently and effectively in our lives.

“Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.” ~ Jennifer Porter

calm reflectionStep One

So are you ready to “clean the slate”? The easiest place to begin your reflection exercise is to summarize 2018 and “get complete” with this year.  By taking this initial step, it makes it so much easier to become spontaneous and natural in planning 2019.

Start by putting any resistance behind you. Chances are that your memory may not be totally “fresh” on the last 12 months. Do you have a journal? No? What about your daytimer/Outlook Calendar? Does that help to remind you what transpired over the last 12 months? You need to do a bit of mental download  (written in point form) to create your narrative of Jan – Dec 2018.

Step Two

Next step is to begin a conversation with yourself. You have some questions to ask. Including some feelings to explore and a few realities to acknowledge.

Begin with these 10 Questions.

  1. What were your major events/turning points in the past year? (Relationships, work, education, service, travel, home, friends, family, creative pursuits, finances, etc.)
  2. Do you have any failed or unmet expectations for the year?  Are any goals still outstanding?
  3. What are the challenges you faced? Have they helped you grow and learn more about yourself this year?
  4. What relationships have you developed or deepened – again in all areas of your life?
  5. What has given you the greatest joy? The most satisfaction?
  6. When did you feel inspired, alive or excited this year and why?
  7. What are you proud of having done? Even a small change can have a lasting impact.
  8. When did you feel at your lowest this year and why?
  9. What do I want to release/let go of/ leave behind from the past year?
  10. What are you most thankful for in 2018?

Remember to give yourself credit for your wins, successes, and accomplishments in all of the areas of your life. 

Step Three

Now that you have done the review of your year, next is deciding how to summarize and close off your year.

To wrap this all up with a nice bow and move forward, ask yourself.

  1. If you had to describe your past year in 3 words, what would they be?
  2. Is there any one overarching common theme that comes to mind?
  3. What would you have done differently? Why?
  4. Does anything feel incomplete?
  5. What are you going to change in 2019?

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”~ Peter Drucker

Each Year Must Come to an End 

reflectionThe last week of December is often used to wrap up loose ends. Going back over your year is often aligned with employer year-end bonus programs and/or year-end performance reviews. (Maybe your thoughts on business or career plans will take you in this direction?) Occasionally, when one is really on the ball, they might have finished these steps and are moving on to plan new beginnings.

Even is you are just starting your reflection process, it is a still good idea to think about requesting feedback from colleagues, employers, friends and family. This fresh information can offer additional insight. In particular, if you are struggling with your ownself-reflection. Why not connect now with some of the people who know you best?

Remember, allowing yourself to be open with the people who understand your ambitions, and sincerely wish you success, is a safe and effective way to jump-start your reflection.  There are most certainly benefits to listening to the perspective of your “support team”. Why not arrange a casual conversation or two over a holiday lunch, coffee or a drink?

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations, and that all reality has spiritual control. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

In Closing

Self-reflection helps us grow and it encourages us to successfully set goals for our future. Even if you already have some defined goals, and are actively working to achieve them, self-reflection just might provide you with another opportunity to grow.

Get Inspired to Reach Your Goals with These 12 TED Talks

Wishing you the best 365 yet!

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