As the year ends, I like to use the time between Christmas and New Year’s for my annual reflection. I might end up using a few days after New Year’s, actually. Looking back, I will see more clearly what is possible within a year and what has been a success. I will also know what I would like to give more time and attention to in the new year.

5 Ideas for your annual reflection

Drawing on my own experience with reviewing my year, I would like to share five suggestions for your annual reflection.

What happened?

First of all, I look back on the year. The entire one. Reading the entries in my BulletJournal, looking at the pictures in my phone and clicking through my calendar I note what I planned, attended to and experienced over the course of the last twelve months. Many to-do-apps come with an option that allows you to view your completed tasks. Next, I write down a few bullet points for every month. What did I enjoy? Which sad things occurred? When was a whole lot going on at the same time?

Which of my goals did I reach?

Secondly, I review my plans: What was I planning to accomplish this past year? How much did I intend to get done? I have a look, remember and write my old goals down, also noting to what extent I made them. I applaud myself for everything I have accomplished. And then I try to find out why I didn’t attain some of my goals. I would assume that you also didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do. Why might that have been? Maybe you planned to do too much, or other goals turned out to be more important. Maybe you lost sight of some of your goals as life happened. Do these goals still matter to you this year? Review: What actually helped you accomplish goals last year?

Who was along for the ride?

Furthermore, I consider my social life. Who did I spend my time with? I think about how often I met with friends and family. Who would I like to thank for their support? Which persons entered my life? Who left? Maybe you feel like thanking these people – with a letter, a card, or a phone call.

How did I feel last year?

The turn of the year also marks a good opportunity to reflect on your health – your physical and mental health. How often did I fall sick? When did I feel good, bad, happy, empty? Looking back on the year in its entirety, you might be able to figure out when you feel particularly great. What could you do to experience that more often?

What did I learn?

Once I have browsed through all of my notes and thought about all that happened, I am ready to write down what I learned last year. What am I better at now? What did I do for the first time? Which insights have I had about myself? If you write that down, you might be surprised to read next year what once was new and now feels understood. And maybe this new insight you think you just had turns out to be one you already had last year. When that happens, it always makes me smile.

Note down your annual reflection

Even if you prefer reflecting as you are taking a walk or talking with a friend: Take the time to find a moment to jot your thoughts down on paper. Words or drawings add clarity. Plus, you will be able to read later about your experiences and your thoughts. Above all, writing will help you learn from your review.

Photography: Christiane Kasack