Anyone started on their New Year's resolutions, yet?
After Christmas I typically put aside some time to process the past year, look for themes, and identify and articulate what I learned along the way. Reflection is powerful - if neglected, we forfeit the opportunity to build on what we learned and experienced throughout the year and often become ignorant to our own lives and what's happening under the surface.
Once I spend time reflecting, I look forward. It's popular this time of year to set goals, but I also think through how I want to achieve those goals and what sort of rhythms or boundaries I'm going to put in place so that I know what to anticipate and what to say yes (or no) to. Even if you're more spontaneous than structured, preparing and looking ahead creates an opportunity to take advantage of, anticipate, and be expectant for the new year. And I for one could use a little hope moving forward. 2017 is going to our year, friends.
Below are some reflection and anticipation questions to help you get started and feel prepared heading into the New Year.
What are some highlights of 2016? Make a list of 5-10.
What kinds of disappointments happened in 2016? Make a list of 5-10.
What are some game changers of 2016? Maybe a specific friendship or a goal you set or some kind of rhythm you put in place.
Can you list any specific "grace moments" you experienced this past year? Where did you experience grace and from whom?
Who did you most learn from this year? And what did you learn?
What worked for you this year?
Can you identify any themes? What's something you kept coming back to? Maybe some word, phrase, category, or passage comes to mind.
Now can you begin to list your top 3-5 takeaways?
Out of your list of takeaways and themes, which do you wish to focus on or develop this year?
What are you hopeful for in 2017?
What sort of promises or dreams are you believing for?
This is the year that __________.
Who do you want to learn from this year? Why? How?
What do you want to grow, advance, or move forward? This can be in your own life or in some place you're investing in.
What's your edge? In other words, where are you going to dig a little deeper, move a little closer, risk a little bigger?
What do you feel most passionate about or invested in going into the new year? How can you make these things a priority?
What sort of rhythms will you put in place this year? (Daily, weekly, and monthly)
What will you say yes to this year? List your top 3-5 priorities to help guide you.
If you were to sum up what you're most excited for, what you want to focus on and develop and move forward with, what sort of theme or word would you choose? I like going into the new year with a word or phrase that's easy to remember. I'll often keep it in front of me in creative ways throughout the year.
After answering some of all of these questions, think through the best ways to check in with yourself throughout the year. I like to take a weekend (or at least a day) 2-4 times throughout the year to revisit my goals and plans. It helps keep me focused and hopeful.
Lastly, once you reflect and think ahead, do yourself a favor and thank the people you learned from this year and notify those you want to learn from next. You may even decide to send your questions to a close friend for accountability or a second pair of eyes. I think we're our best selves in the context of community - don't be afraid to reach out and recruit others to help you meet your goals!