Year-End Review: A Gift to Yourself

As we get closer to our farthest distance from the sun here in the northern hemisphere, I think of this season’s offerings.

The dashing around for the past few weeks will soon come to an end.  It will be time to switch gears.

As a friend once said, “it is time for human being rather than human doing.” 

Victoria:  Provincial Legislative Building

Victoria:  Provincial Legislative Building

The long nights are a good reminder to retreat.  In the midst of darkness, Victoria celebrates with an abundance of holiday lights wound around trees and light standards.  Some of the white lights on the provincial Legislative Building have been replaced with red and green ones.  The dazzling display is an invitation, too, for contemplation.

I have a journal I write in once a year, recapping what I have done in the last 365 days. I do this in a free-flowing way, letting events that have weaved through my year arise.  Having a non-linear process allows me to reflect on what has inspired me the most.

I have done this for 20 years – my journal has 20 entries.  When my friend Monique introduced me to this yearly tradition of hers, I adopted it immediately.  It was like a to-do list in reverse, with all the satisfaction and no pressure. 

Later when I was helping others set goals, I realized how important it is to review progress, particularly when facing something new.  Like another year.

But more importantly, it sets the tone for what’s to come.

Sometimes I read my previous entries and am reminded how far I have journeyed and how I have worked through different challenges.  It is an opportunity for me to honour what I have done and who I am.

In a culture that makes many demands and often tells us we are not good enough, taking time to celebrate who you are is a bold act.  It breaks the rules of propriety.

We are told that talking about ourselves is akin to bragging or being self absorbed. 

But how do you move through this world if you don’t know who you are?  How do you contribute at all if you don’t understand your place?  And how do you contribute anything meaningful if you don’t know what gives you meaning?

Part of that journey is being able to explore your gifts.  Your gifts and talents are where you are going to make the biggest difference in the world. Even if changing the world is not on your to-do list, you likely want to contribute. Or help.  Or at least reduce the suffering of others. 

My once-a-year journal

My once-a-year journal

The journal is my starting place.

Before you rush off to make resolutions or major changes, consider what you appreciate about what you did last year.

Here is an 3-part exercise for your year-end review.  It can relate to the work you do or your personal life. 

Part One:  What did you accomplish?

  • What activities did you do in the last year? 
  • If you like linear methods, look back month-by-month to see what stood out for you. Remember this exercise is about recognizing yourself – focus on what you did rather than what others did.
  • What did you do in the last year that made a difference in someone else’s life? 

Part Two:  What did you learn?

  • What you learned can be formal or informal, personal or skill-based. 
  • Throughout the year, what personal growth did you experience?

Part Three:  What is your overall summary?

  • When you look back over the year, what are you most proud of achieving?
  • How would you state your satisfaction? 

You may notice this exercise does not ask what you could have done better. Although that can be informative, self criticism already gets a lot of air time.

This year-end review is about allowing magnificent parts of yourself to surface.  We are all drawn to work with our gifts and talents.  The trouble is that we don’t recognize them.  Or we diminish them.  But we are expressing them all the time.

Your self-appreciation year-end review allows you the space to move away from keeping yourself small.