Have you done your year-end reflections yet? The year is almost up and a new one will begin. Think about all that has been and what you can do to have a better new year!
Realistic Year-End Reflections, From One Homesteader To Another
As the calendar year draws to a close, it is customary for the media to offer up an assortment of year-end reflections, milestones, losses, and accomplishments. We hear stories about global summit talks, changes in economic conditions, deaths of public figures, outrageous behavior of people in the limelight, new technology, and words that have been added to the dictionary over the past year.
It’s all interesting, but what impact does it truly have on our lives? Celebrities and politicians get married and get divorced and have children and create scandals, but do we really care? World leaders project policies and take stands, but it doesn’t always affect us personally.
None of that is as important as taking an assessment of one’s own year. While it is true that the outcomes of some large-scale developments do trickle down into the lives of individuals, most results are out of our hands. The things that matter most are the things over which we have some control.
It may not be as appealing to turn inward and reflect back upon your own year. It might be scary, or hard to recall, or difficult to sort through all that has happened. However, it is worthwhile to do so. If you don’t know quite how to get started, following are some ideas that can help.
Start by thinking about your life in the past compared to today.
How is it different now from a year ago? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Consider concrete aspects such as your job, your health, and your home. But don’t forget to evaluate intangibles like your family dynamics, romantic relationships, time spent with friends, and celebrations.
Name all the things you have accomplished.
Include big events like promotions and renovating the family room and completing your degree work, and smaller achievements such as learning to ski and eating more vegetables. Did you spend more time reading and less time watching television like you wanted to? Did you and your spouse do marriage work? Were you more successful at recycling and reducing waste than ever before? Are your skinny clothes fitting better? Did you help your child finish homework every night or attend soccer game? Is the car paid off? Did you finally take the cruise to Alaska or the road trip you had been putting off for years?
Consider all the positive things that have happened because of your accomplishments.
Not only in your own life, but in the lives of those around you. It could very well be that your child’s school performance has improved due to your diligence, or your grandmother’s quality of life was affected by your faithful attention to cards and phone calls. Your coworker might have things easier because of a workplace change you initiated. You may even have helped change a person’s life indirectly by way of a small gesture – helping a stranded motorist might have gotten them to a job interview on time and resulted in an income that took better care of their family.
Contemplate personal growth.
In what ways are you a better person than you were in the past – have you become kinder, wiser, more patient, harder working, more organized, or moved closer to any other trait you value and strive for? These areas of progress might be a direct result of your achievements, or they may be completely unrelated. Either way, embrace them and be proud!
Don’t rest on your laurels too long.
Use your lists of changes and accomplishments and growth as a platform for the future. No matter how many or few good things you can say about the past year, use what you have to build onto for the coming one. If you lost ten pounds but have ten more to go, keep working at it. If you created and managed a successful project at work, start thinking about your next one. If you learned to do simple crochet stitches, move on to more complicated ones. Successful tomato crop in your beginner garden? Try peppers next season! Is your retirement account fully funded? Look for other ways to invest for your future. Is the baby out of diapers during the day? Work on overnights next.
Just like major media stories do, focus on the upside. Dwelling on disappointments and failures cannot serve you. Keep them in mind, but use them for stepping stones, not road blocks. Keep losses in your heart, but don’t let them swallow you whole. Acknowledge areas where you need to do better but don’t beat yourself up over them.
Wipe the slate clean.
One of the many beautiful things about the end of a calendar year is that you can start over. After considering all that has happened during the past twelve months, making lists of all the good things that came of it and all the ways in which you moved forward and pondering how you can use the past year’s endeavors as building blocks, you can let go of them. Just open your heart and release the past like a bunch of helium balloons, so that you will then have space to fill it again.
With your own personal year-end story written, you will be free to reflect on what matters. If so-and-so in Hollywood is having another makeover and a government scalawag is philandering, who cares? Your own life will be so filled with working, playing, growing, learning, and moving forward that you won’t have time to worry about them. The best part is, by next year at this time the stage will be set for you to sit down and contemplate how, once again, your life has changed for the better.
What do you think of these year-end reflections? Do you think these pointers will help you see if you’ve become a better person? We’d love to hear what you think. Is there another aspect you think should be worth reflecting on? Let us know in the comments section below.
While you’re reflecting, why not listen to the 2015 music and video mashup from Daniel Kim: