Reflection gives us the opportunity to see things we may otherwise have missed. As a society, we tend to value 'doing' and being productive much more than we do, pausing and thinking. But in those moments of quiet reflection we can seek to understand, we can observe behaviours, we can consider what we have learnt and how we would like to move forward.
When you think back over your 2021, what do you notice? How would you summarise the year that you’ve had? Taking into account your work life, your relationships, your well-being, your times with friends and family, the celebrations and the harder times.
This time last year, many of us looked to 2021 as the year of opportunity as we said goodbye (and good riddance) to 2020. In some ways 2021 has been and gone in a flash. Days have been busier than ever, boundaries have blurred and downtime has become more elusive.
And in many other ways, the months have dragged by as we’ve continued to negotiate our way along the pandemic pathway. We haven’t been where we thought we would go, we work from home (or live at work), we continue to be cautious.
Perhaps the essence of time hasn’t changed at all. Perhaps I’ve changed. With each year that passes, do we interact slightly differently with time? Do we become wiser? More nostalgic? A little more reflective?
What can you take from the moments of joy? How can you see experiences through fresh eyes? What have you learnt from the more difficult challenges you’ve faced? How will you use this to shape your 2022?
Whatever your year has brought you, I invite you to pause and reflect. We can learn so much from our experiences when we give ourselves space to look back and learn. We can then move forward with intention towards the bright year in front of us.
Here are some different ways you can reflect on your year gone by and prepare for the new year ahead.
1. 3 things
Take time to think about 3 things that have gone well, 3 things that have challenged you, 3 things you are grateful for and 3 things you'd like to differently next year.
2. Write a letter to yourself
Take time to write yourself a generous letter highlighting the key things that stand out for you (big and small, light and dark moments). In this letter you can share the main things you've learnt and share some advice with yourself for the year ahead.
3. Journaling prompts - looking back
Here are some journaling prompts to get you thinking about the last 12 months:
Summarise your year in a word, phrase or short sentence
What have you learnt about yourself?
How have you adapted to changes around you?
What changes have you made this year?
How do these changes align with your needs and values?
What have you done that has surprised you?
What lessons can you take from this?
What do you recall from this year that sparks joy in your heart?
How do you want to retain this (or do/get more of this) next year?
What has drained you?
How can you remove this or limit it in the year to come?
Describe anything you feel is 'unfinished or incomplete' - what would you like to do with these things next year? Let them go? Re-evaluate? Re-prioritise? Continue to move forward with them?
4. Journaling prompts - looking ahead
Use these prompts to help you look ahead:
How would words and phrases would you like to use to summarise your 2022?
How can you incorporate more of this [insert word or phrase] in your work, life, relationships, well-being?
What have you noticed is missing from the last 12 months that you would like to incorporate into the new year?
What do you need to do for yourself to ensure you get this?
Think of your four bodies - mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. How will you nurture each of these in 2022?
What is your most heartfelt desire for yourself next year?
If money was no object, what would you do?
If time was endless, what would you do?
If you could grant yourself one wish, what would it be?
What is the greatest gift you could give yourself?
Think of one area of your life (work, hobbies, relationships, well-being...). In 12 months time, what would you like to be different in this area? What are three things you can do to get started? Who can you share this with to make you more accountable?
5. Stop doing
Reflect on the last year - using photos, messages or conversations with people you're close to. Then create a list of everything you wish to stop doing or give up in 2022. We're very familiar with writing to-do lists, but what about 'Not to-do'. These could be career, personal, health and well-being items. Or they could simply be an account of all the things you're going to say no to in 2022.
6. Buddy up
Sometimes it's useful to reflect with a friend or someone close to you. It's important to do this with someone you trust and would want to share this moment with you. You could take it in turns to actively listen while the other person shares:
their greatest moment of 2021
their biggest challenge
one thing they've learnt about themselves
what they would like to change in 2022
Sharing with other people can make us more motivated to go through with the things we've said we'll do but also means we can check in with each other later on, for support or encouragement.
If you'd like to continue your reflection with others, join my free journaling workshop on 6th December where we'll be jointly reflecting on the last 12 months. You can book your place, here.
Gemma Brown is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, working with individuals and groups to navigate successfully through transitions - be it career, relationships or life in general. Her belief is that when we confidently bring our whole selves to all areas of life, anything is possible. Transitions exist in both our personal and business life, and so often, the two fiercely overlap. Coaching with Gemma focuses on you as a whole, enabling you to identify your strengths, build confidence and to live a life with increased purpose and direction. Gemma works face to face with clients in the Cambridge area as well as via Zoom. For more about Gemma, visit her 'About' page or contact her directly.