One of my favorite weeks of the entire year is the week between Christmas and New Years. The pace of the holidays is decidedly slower that week as the excitement of Christmas fades away and the hope of a new year beckons us forward. Until a few years ago, I didn’t see the full beauty of that in-between week. I never noticed it for the unique opportunity it provides us, as a window of time between an ending and a new beginning.
So often change happens in our lives quickly, without any time for reflection. Years come and go, leaving behind a vague sense of memory and feelings. But nothing concrete. Nothing we can build on.
Being a dreamer, the idea of a new year captivates me. It’s tempting to focus on all the shiny unknowns and idyllic hopes without pausing to reflect on the realities of the past year. But, as Yvonne Woon said, “Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.”
I’ve learned that to not examine the recent past is to miss out on the chance to gain anything from our experiences. We live life at such an incredible rate that while we live through something, we may not learn from it. And to not learn from these things is to risk not growing from them.
How can we move into the next year of our lives without evaluating who we have become in the previous one?
That is why one of my New Year’s Resolutions will begin a week early this year. I am resolving to reflect this year. In her podcast, The Next Right Thing (which I absolutely adore and highly recommend) Emily P. Freeman suggests taking time to reflect seasonally every three months. I love this as a coach’s wife because my life already feels segmented by the seasons (Fall: Football, Winter: Basketball, Spring: Track, Summer: Freedom!) Each season that passes teaches us something new that will prepare us for the season ahead.
So how do we capture our reflections?
It can be as simple as occasionally jotting down your thoughts in a journal, or a loose-leaf piece of paper kept on your bedside table. Or perhaps you would like a more guided reflection. If so, there are a ton of free “year-end reflection” printables available online. But below, I’ve listed a few questions I plan on considering this year, as I curl up in my favorite chair, with my favorite journal, and a hot cup of coffee.
- What were my favorite moments of 2017? (Try to pick at least one from each season)
- What did each of these moments teach me? (about myself, my family, my community, etc)
- What were the hardest moments of 2017?
- What did each of these moments teach me?
- If you could summarize 2017 in three words, what would they be?