As we are nearing the end of 2018, many of us find ourselves reflecting on the past year. Self-reflection can be a helpful tool in assessing what went well and what to change in the new year. Unfortunately, it can turn into negative self-talk about what we ‘should have’ or ‘could have’ done which hinders our overall growth.
Let’s look at how to reflect with purpose instead of pessimism.
Timeline life events
When you think about 2018, what stands out as significant life events during the year? If it’s helpful, write down each month and a couple key events from each month. Did you change jobs, get married, have a child, or become a grandparent? Document challenging life events too like losing a loved one, divorce, or having to relocate when you didn’t want to. Also, write down the smaller but still meaningful events like trying that painting class you always thought about or learning how to ride a motorcycle. It’s helpful to visualize these linear events to see the progression of the ups and downs in our life. Notice patterns over the year such as multiple negative events impacting your mood or changing jobs really increased your motivation to try a new hobby. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day routine that we forget to look at the big picture and how it is all connected.
Assess your values
Think about what is important to you and the amount of time that you spent doing that in 2018. Sometimes we have great intentions but then there is a disconnect which causes sadness or confusion. Write down a simple list of values such as: love, wealth, family, success, knowledge, friends, free time, freedom, fun, nature, honesty, independence, spirituality, peace, and achievement. Then, rank them from 1 to 15 with 1 being the most important item. Does your 2018 life reflect those values in that order? Sometimes, when I do this activity in sessions, people find that they say that family is #1 but they are rarely home, or they rank spirituality in their top 3 but they struggle to spend time in scripture. For 2019, think about how can your time align with what you value.
Reflect with gratefulness
I know someone who, throughout the year, writes down her thoughts on small pieces of paper and puts them in a jar. She writes down happy things, sad things, big life events or small events. On New Years Day, she reads her jar and reminisces over the past year. This is such a simple but intentional way to reflect with purpose. Make this a goal for the new year to start in January so that next year, you have these moments of time to reflect on from the past year with a grateful heart.
I hope this was helpful in learning to reflect with purpose. Are you thinking about making changes in the new year but aren’t sure what steps to take? Connect with one of us at FFT to help! We have convenient offices in Raleigh and Fuquay-Varina.
Renee Pugh, Licensed Clinical Social Worker