The end of a year is a popular time for reflection. And I encourage it. However, I believe it is important to have a balanced view of your year. By balance I mean taking time to recall everything that you are grateful for—challenges faced, support given and received and what you have learned. It is a shame to sign-off your year without acknowledging and celebrating all of these gifts.
This blog post requires you to do some written work too, so take out your journal or electronic device, and get ready to sign-off your year in style.
Sign-Off Your Year
As you reflect on your year, consider your personal health and wellbeing, family, social activities, and career.
- What came easily?
- What was tough?
- How did you manage the surprises?
Learning is an ongoing activity. We are naturally wired to gather facts, interpret them and improve upon our experiences in life.
Learning doesn’t mean that we always get it right, it means we are willing to try different approaches until we find something that works for our unique situation.
1) Write down the important lessons that you have learned this year.
To me, progress is putting what we have learned into practice to pursue a direction or goal.
You may have set a goal to improve your eating habits during the year.
For example, you may have been aware that you had a habit of skipping lunch, which caused you to overeat during the evening.
To measure progress, you need to have a particular outcome in mind. For the example above, your desired outcome might have been, eating lunch every day and not feeling overfull when going to bed at night.
2) Did you partially or fully meet your goals?
3) What and who supported your progress this year?
4) Do you have goals to take into the New Year?
The Eating for You book and workbook provide templates to set out your goals, step-by-step.
#3 New Experiences
New experiences can be planned or unexpected. And they can be internal (making observations during meditation and transforming our thoughts) or external physical experiences (travel, work, health, social).
Interestingly though, it is difficult to have a new external experience, without an internal one as well.
5) Record your new experiences and how they have helped shaped your year.
#4 New friendships and reconnections with old friends
We form new friendships through common interests and existing friends. We often learn alongside our friends.
6) Write down the names of your new and reconnected friends.
7) Also, reflect on how your friends have influenced your internal and external experiences.
#5 Letting go
I often compare my life to my office cupboard. This cupboard is the place where I store treasures and things that may become useful at some point in time.
But, because it is a regular cupboard (not a magical expanding one) it becomes full. I then have to go through the process of de-cluttering and passing on items that I haven’t used during the past 3 to 6 months.
“Our day and our mind also become full.”
Our day has 24 hours, so we have guidelines about time. The risk here is decreasing sleep and personal health and wellbeing time. We have to stay clear about priorities for how we use our time.
But our mind is not so straightforward. Why?
It is possible to be unaware of our thoughts. We form thoughts from our beliefs, feelings, and perceptions, which may or may not be current or based on facts.
This is why meditation and mindfulness practices are vital. Firstly you hear what is going on in your mind, secondly, you learn to observe without judgement, and thirdly you choose what to focus on.
8) Did you make any changes to your daily routine?
9) Did you make any changes to your internal thought patterns?
10) Did you let go of any habits or physical items you no longer needed?
Letting go is crucial to being able to sign-off your year, as this practice creates space for new things. Forgiveness might be the missing ingredient to letting go.
As mentioned in #1 above, learning doesn’t mean that we always get things right. It means we can often make mistakes.
Sometimes we don’t progress because we are afraid of making mistakes.
But making a mistake is not the real issue…
How we handle the mistake is the challenge.
When things do not go to plan, do you blame yourself? Or do you blame others?
Blame stops progress.
Forgiveness reminds us that we are not perfect, and neither are other people. Forgiveness and acceptance encourage us to keep trying new things, learning and progressing.
11) Is there anyone (including yourself) that you choose to forgive?
#7 Your To Do List
You are not alone if you have arrived at the end of the year with things still to do.
A daily practice that I recommend is writing a to-do list. The daily list contains small actions that help us to achieve bigger goals for our personal health and wellbeing, family, community, and career.
For the end of the year to-do list, I would like you to consider the bigger projects that you are carrying over to the New Year.
For example, improving your relationship with food, planning a holiday for the family, and launching a new work project.
12) Take time to record your priorities for the New Year.
I believe that it is important to sign-off your year, to bring closure and to celebrate. It helps start the New Year with a clean slate.
And remember, you don’t have to wait until 31 December to do this. You can do it at any time.
Next week, we will take a look at your priorities as we welcome in the New Year. I will also outline daily and weekly practices that will help you to focus on what is important to you.
The Eating for You book and workbook are designed to support you with healthy eating and lifestyle changes.