Today is my birthday! It’s hard to believe yet another year has passed. We all know how quickly time flies, but I’m noticing this to be especially true lately. I feel like my birthday (my favorite day of the year) was just here. While the day comes and goes in the blink of an eye, I like to spend some time around my birthday to reflect on the past year, celebrate the year that was, and consider what I want for the next one.
Next month, we’ll dive into creating a vision for 2020. But for now, let’s look back at the past year. After all, you can’t effectively plan for the future without reassessing your past. So let’s dive in and ask ourselves this valuable question:
What happened over the last year?
In order to dive deeper in our reflection, we’ll break it down to the following four questions.
Where was I a year ago?
Asking this question encourages us to reflect on where we were and what was most important to us at that time. The purpose is to look back with gentle, non-judgmental analysis. We aren’t criticizing whether or not certain things were accomplished. We’re simply noticing how we felt then, what was important at the time, and if it ended up being important to us in the long run.
Who do I spend most of my time with?
This question can reveal a lot about our overall well-being. When we take a look at our social relationships (not necessarily the relationships with our spouses, children, and parents), it’s important to examine how we feel when we are with each person we spend time with. Are these relationships ones that fill you up, or are they certified energy vampires?
You can take this question a step further and take a look at your ‘permanent’ relationships (i.e. family members). Think about the ways in which you’re managing these relationships. Are you frustrated day in and day out? Or are you learning to manage them better over time?
What were this year’s biggest lessons?
One of my favorite quotes is, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.” This question gives us a chance to reflect on times that might have been extra challenging and create a new narrative about them. One with the benefit of perspective. Oftentimes, we encounter the same challenges again and again because there is a lesson to be learned. Approaching difficult times with the intention of learning means reducing the negative feelings around the experience. Looking for the lessons serves as a great reminder of how you’ve grown. Give yourself some credit here. You are strong, and you’ve made it through another year!
How am I allocating my resources?
Our most valuable resources are time, energy, and money. These are not infinite resources (as much as we like to think they are). Look back on the past year and assess how you have allocated these resources. Think about it like this: you create a budget to be mindful of your spending. Rarely do we create a budget for how we spend our time and energy. Did you spend enough time with yourself and on yourself this year?
When speaking with my clients, the answer to that question is usually a big, fat no. If this is true for you, I encourage you to start creating extra ‘white space.’ White space is time reserved just for you to do something that makes you happy or fills you up in that moment. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. White space can look like 15 minutes of unscheduled time where you simply sit and look out the window, or listen to some music, or read something, or power nap, etc. Notice that I’m not calling this ‘me time.’ As parents, ‘me time’ can trigger our false sense of guilt. We feel we aren’t entitled to take care of ourselves until everything else is done. White space is simply blocking out some time to rest, restore and replenish your energy.
Take time to celebrate your life by looking at it more deeply. Perhaps you can block out some white space to consider these questions and write the answers in your journal. This will help you plan for next year and remind you of how far you’ve come.