The year 2020… How will you remember this year? What stories will you tell yourself and others about it? What will you emphasize in your memories and what will you skip over?
It’s been a strange and uncertain year for us all. It’s tested our resilience and made us grateful for the life we’ve been able to lead for so many years. Not only has the global pandemic tested our resolve, we are facing some challenging societal issues that we need to address; a racial reckoning as well as the importance of character in leadership and politics, and more broadly. Now that’s a lot to reflect on!
Connection and Reflection
It can be all too easy to skip over the experiences of the last 12 months like a bad dream to be left behind quickly. In fact, we can only truly learn from the experience if we take the time to reflect and understand what we’ve learnt and use these reflections to try something different as a result of the experience. Reflection can be a powerful learning tool to ignite your self-awareness, relationships and leadership. Better yet, it’s absolutely free to do, and your reflections get better with practice.
I’ve made it simple for you and created a list of questions you can send to your friends below. Or better yet, make up your own list of questions to explore! Let’s face it, our reflections to these questions might look very different this year than in previous years.
Here we go… 10 key questions to fuel your end of year reflection.
1. What did you miss the most this year?
Ok, let’s have a place to mourn. What did you truly miss that you didn’t get to do this year? It might have been as big as global travel plans or as small as dinner with friends and family. What parts of life did you miss the most with the challenges of this year?
2. What triggered negative thoughts and emotions in you the most this year?
First, think of the challenging feelings you had this year; grief, sadness, anger, jealously or loneliness, perhaps. Researchers suggest identifying the emotions we experience is the first step to manage them better. So what were the feelings that came up for you this year?
Now think if there were any themes or patterns with what prompted those feelings? Loss of control, lack of certainty or close quarters with people?
Be real and honest with yourself. Often we think of the negative times in our lives but we don’t think about what triggered it!
3. What did you gain this year?
Even with all the changes and uncertainty, what did you gain? What were the silver linings?
Think about those negative triggers above, could you bring some reframing to it – how has it made you a better person, how did you grow and what did you learn? If it’s still tough to revisit, perhaps it’s time to gather a new meaning about the experience.
4. What new insights do you have about yourself?
What stretched and challenged you the most this year? What did you learn about yourself this year?
Instead of sailing into the new year without fully gaining the benefit of all your experiences this year, consider the three main things that you’ve learnt about yourself. What did you set out to learn and improve on during the year? Where can you see you improved from last year?
Where have you grown the most as a person, leader, family member or friend? Were these intended learning curves or a by-product of circumstance? Either way, we can take each experience to the next level by reflecting on what we learnt.
5. What is important in maintaining a strong sense of mental wellbeing?
When we were dealing with challenging situations this year, it also highlighted the importance of our mental wellbeing.
What did you rely on to help you through this year? Exercise, connection, reading, meditation, healthy food or music. We had to be creative. There was definitely some constraints – perhaps your gym closed down, you couldn’t leave your house or visit your friends! So what did you do?
Your mental health is important, not just in a pandemic. How many of these practices can you retain as part of your normal routine?
6. What did you realise is most important to you in your life?
What do you truly need to be happy and fulfilled in life?
It is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else wants you to do – your family, friends, work or even society, in general, can dictate what we focus on.
Think about when you get into work every day, do you reflect on your key priorities and set in for some deep, deliberative work or do you check your email and focus on what others want of you? Let’s get more intentional about how you want to spend your time.
Personally – did you get to focus on what was important to you this year or did you get pulled in different directions? What is fundamentally important to you and how do you ensure it stays the priority for you?
7. What are you grateful for?
Time to evoke a little gratitude. Make a list and check it twice!
Gratitude has immeasurable benefits to your physical and mental health. It improves your relationships, increases your resilience, helps you sleep better, improves your self-esteem and, not to mention, it makes you happier!
From the huge big things to the tiniest little things. What are you grateful for? If it involved people around you, this might be a nice way to reconnect with people during December and tell them what made you grateful too!
8. What has made you proud this year?
What behaviours or situations have made you proud? Perhaps where you have truly lived your values? Perhaps it was how you survived a tough experience, or maybe it’s how you supported others through the tough times this year?
Feelings of pride can include feeling satisfied, joyful, delighted or fulfilled. This year, it might be about the small moments that have made you proud or content. Think about your relationships, goals or simply your attitude.
9. How did you foster connection and relationships?
Family and friends, business colleagues and community – relationships can play a key part of your wellbeing and also your success.
It was definitely made a little harder this year, so how did you overcome this? Which relationships made you feel strong and empowered? How did you intentionally foster the relationships in your life? Are you hanging around the right people? Are they lifting you up to be your best? How has your presence positively impacted on the people around you too?
10. What change of routine happened in 2020 that you are going to keep long term?
Looking forward, what are you going to keep?! I love a good experiment! Whether it’s working from home or hiking on weekends!
2020 was the year of experimentation – what would life look like if we worked from home? What if we didn’t travel nationally or internationally for the next 1-2 years? What if we participated in events and conferences online? What if we had to run our business or develop our careers in a different way? What if…?
We can always try new habits and rituals to enhance life meaning and wellbeing.
Take some time this December…
Grab your favourite drink, put on some encouraging music and sit in your favourite chair or go outside into nature and answer these questions for yourself!? Then come together with friends and share your reflections from the year.