Now is the perfect time to give yourself an end-of-year review, reflecting on what happened during the past 12 months with a goal of learning from what went well—and what didn’t.
Oftentimes, we go through life without thinking. We run on autopilot from one task to the next without pausing to consider whether life is going well and working for us. Are we even doing what we want? We may be in a relationship that isn’t working, for example, or a job that we don’t like. But we stay. The result: We feel stuck and unhappy.
Self-reflection helps us gain perspective, which allows us to be more directed and intentional about what comes our way, rather than being reactive and accepting. Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Reflection is essential for our growth—personally, professional, and spiritually. Otherwise, we move from one thing to the next without considering its lessons and value.
To get started, think of this process as a gift of time and attention just for you. Then, find a calm, quiet space and give yourself about a half hour. Approach self-reflection with curiosity and no pressure. It may feel strange at first if you’ve never done it before, but simply show up.
Ready to learn something new about yourself? I’ve chosen seven of my favorite questions that are simple yet incredibly powerful for your end-of-year self-reflection.
1. What went well?
What were the highlights of the year—your shining moments that stand out? Think of both personal and professional examples. Was it that long-awaited post-pandemic family vacation? Maybe you had a big accomplishment at work. Did you drop a bad habit, or make a new habit and stick with it? Your kids’ growth, a problem you solved, a new friendship you struck up—consider the possibilities.
2. What didn’t go well?
What do you wish you had done differently? What was lost? Where do you wish you had listened more, or where was there an opportunity for you to grow? Recount failures and mistakes. Maybe you made a decision that could’ve gone better. Did you experience an upsetting event, or did something unexpected happen? Was there a health issue that you or your family had to deal with?
3. When did you have to be brave and step outside of your comfort zone?
What stands out at the moment you had to push yourself?
4. What did you avoid?
What did you not do? When did you not take the risk, staying in your comfort zone? When did you let fear—fear of failure, the unknown, embarrassment, being in the spotlight—win this past year?
5. Who was your fan club?
Who really supported you this year? Who showed up for you? Who remembered to reach out, did something thoughtful, and was part of your personal “board of directors”?
6. What was your favorite book?
What did you learn from it, or why did it stand out as your favorite—whether it was reading for pleasure or knowledge?
7. What sticks out as the most meaningful moment?
Was there any one moment that stands out, perhaps a reunion, a promotion, or a big win professionally or personally?
Use what you learn to understand yourself better and as a guide for making changes and establishing goals.