The Greek philosopher Socrates once said “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Maybe he’s right. I know I’ve found writing in a journal and reflecting on my experiences enormously helpful.
But whether or not your habits include a regular review, his guidance seems especially meaningful as we meet the new year. Before you leap into 2016 goals and intentions, see what you can discover by reflecting on the year that was. Choose your favorite questions below to answer on your own, or with a friend:
How you spent your time
- What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
- Most challenging thing that happened?
- What books, blogs, or other reading stand out from the past year?
- Which part of your life saw the greatest change in 2015?
- How did you waste time this past year?
- What activity was the best use of your time?
- If you set 2015 intentions, which were met? Which were not?
If you keep a planner, you can review it for appointments, scheduled activities and events. Or you may bear witness to your life in other ways. Perhaps you have saved photos, posts or emails from the year that tell your story.
What went well this year
- What did you really enjoy?
- Where did you create new work or opportunities?
- How did you connect with exciting people, ideas or experiences?
- How did you grow or change in ways that support your well-being?
- What did people seek you out for? – an expertise, mentorship, kindness?
- What is one way you made a difference in the world?
What didn’t go well
- Where did you struggle or feel resistance?
- Have you outgrown some events, activities or relationships?
- What is uninspiring you?
- What were you afraid might happen, and didn’t? Or did? And then what?
- Have any of your dreams come to an end?
- Are there ways in which you are failing to respect yourself? Or allowing others to disrespect you?
What do you want to be different?
It makes sense to do more of what works well, and less of what doesn’t. Let’s use diet as an example. Experts say most diet decisions are made at the grocery store. If you buy a selection of appealing vegetables and fruits that fit your preferred diet, you’ll increase your odds of success. But loading your cart with cookies, ice cream and pizza will make it harder to eat well at home. In other words, if all the options you give yourself are reasonably positive, then any one you choose will be OK.
If there are necessary but unpleasant activities you really can’t control, you could explore how to improve them (such as putting on music when you clean the house or rewarding yourself for finishing a task.)
And now, for the future!
Imagine it’s a year from now. Picture sitting down to this kind of review of your 2016 experiences. Besides using insight from your answers to the previous questions, consider:
- What do you most want to see when you review 2016?
- What do you want to learn this year?
- Which skills or habits you want to share, contribute, or develop this year?
- How could this year be more inspiring and satisfying than last year?
May your own new year reflect what will make you truly happy, healthy and successful.
Best wishes from CareerOneStop.