You can’t really move forward until you look back.
I have taken a moment here to rest . . . to look back on the distance I have come. —Nelson Mandela
It is necessary now and then [to ask] “Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?”
What’s past is prologue. ―William Shakespeare
Talk shows, news outlets, and magazines are filled with the top stories of year—new tech, political sideshows, pop culture, and economic trends. But while icons and pundits cover the usual year-end wrap up—collective memory of public events—only you can address your personal year in review. So before you launch into the next, why not take a few moments to reflect on where you’ve been?
Some questions to get you started:
- What have you accomplished this year?
- What have you experienced? Felt? Witnessed?
- Do you wish you’d done anything differently?
- What’s changed? Who have you met? Who have you lost?
- What have you learned? How have you grown?
- How does the last year’s chapter fit into the larger story of your life?
Most of our days are spent fielding urgent, concrete tasks like assignments, appointments, and errands. But their clamor can drown out the quiet but crucial work of absorbing, reflecting, evaluating, and prioritizing. So with the hectic holiday season winding down, now is a great time to contemplate less pressing, more important stuff like relationships, forgotten dreams, and long-term goals.
Try this: turn off your phone, shut the door, take a deep breath, and consider the past year. Process the blur of activity, obligations, distractions, efforts, and good intentions that have filled your days. Give yourself credit for all you’ve accomplished and endured. Don’t forget the milestones. Think about how far you’ve come since you last sat down to think about these things.
Next, contemplate who you are and who you want to be. Remember your desires and review your plans. Look at how you spend your time. Imagine how you could use the next year to fulfill yourself personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and creatively. Such insights can help you make more relevant, meaningful, and effective new year’s resolutions.
Before you raise a toast to new year, remember to take some time for yourself to appreciate the year you’re emerging from. Reflection is action and your discoveries will help you make the most of your coming year.