Although we’re now over two weeks into January, it’s still not too late to debrief last year and learn some valuable lessons to carry forward into 2018. In today’s post, I share some resources for how to do this, as well as provide a glimpse into my own yearly review process and what I learned from it.
How to Close Out a Year on the Right Note
There are many rituals we can use to help us powerfully close out each year and gain knowledge for better navigating our path into the next year. Of course, there is nothing particularly magical about the year end and we can do these processes at any time. However, there is a sense of closure as we move from one calendar year to the next that makes the time around New Year’s a great time for us to take stock. Our birthdays are also meaningful times to take inventory and set goals, as I wrote about in 2010, 2013, and 2016.
If you’d like to take some time now to debrief 2017, below are some tips from my fellow bloggers on how to do so. These processes range from a handful of questions to consider to as many as fifty, and they also vary in terms of their scope and approach. I’m including a variety of options because we’re all different and what works well for one person may either be overkill or not enough for another. Also, feel free to pick and choose which questions you wish to answer. Just because someone has presented a long list of debrief questions for us, it doesn’t mean that we need to take them all on.
- “End Your Year Intentionally with These 10 Questions” (No Sidebar)
- “31 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Setting Next Year’s Goals” (Inc. Magazine)
- “Your Year in Review: 50 Questions to Help You Reflect, Appreciate and Get Excited for 2018” (Anuschka Rees)
- “9 Essential Questions Everyone Should Ask Themselves at the End of the Year” (Medium)
- “40 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Year” (Medium)
- “50 Year-End Reflection Questions to Help You Review 2017” (Daring to Live Fully)
- “11 End of Year Traditions that Will Make Next Year Amazing” (Yes and Yes)
I really like the last one because in addition to year-end questions, it also outlines some fun activities for closing out the year, including writing a letter to your future self, organizing your photos, and cleaning up your social media. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t need to only do such things in late December or January. In fact, I plan to take some of them on myself in the coming months and will likely share my process here on the blog.
How I Closed Out 2017
I opted to answer the “year in review” questions from Anuschka Rees, who is also the author of the helpful wardrobe management guide, The Curated Closet (I highly recommend it for those who are struggling with their wardrobe and style). I downloaded and printed out Anuschka’s PDF worksheet on New Year’s Day and thought that I’d maybe just answer ten or so of these questions, but I ended up responding to all of them over the course of about an hour and a half. One thing that I liked about doing the exercise on paper instead of screen was that I could only write so much in the allotted space, so I didn’t overthink things like I usually do. I won’t go into all of my answers here, but below are a select few that I felt were especially meaningful (I will also elaborate on some of these topics in future posts):
What was the most important lesson you learned in 2017? (okay, two lessons…)
- Done is better than perfect!
- It’s very important that I honor myself and my needs and put myself first. This isn’t a bad thing! I shouldn’t say yes when my heart says no (read more about this concept here).\
Which mental blocks did you overcome?
- I have mostly let go of my feelings of “should” around being in touch with people, especially on Facebook, which always seems to have a sense of urgency attached to it. I don’t need to be in touch all the time in order for it to be meaningful and for people to know that I care about them. I had been pushing myself to go online every day and due to other tasks and commitments, it often ended up happening late at night, which I now realize is bad for me.
- I let go of needing to know what’s next before ending things that are no longer working for me, like my previous blog and the contract writing work I was doing during 2016 and 2017.
What new habits did you cultivate?
- Not going on my computer in the late evenings (I don’t stick to this 100% of the time, but I increasingly do and it’s made a huge difference!).
- Going to bed earlier (I still need to improve upon this more, but it’s a lot better than it used to be).
- Less time on my phone and social media.
- I go outside before dark on most days (this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s harder to do this time of year and helps my mood a lot).
What advice would you give your early 2017 self if you could?
- Take “baby steps” toward change in key life areas. A little bit adds up to meaningful changes over time, and I actually make more – and more lasting – progress this way than when I try to make big shifts all at once.
- If it’s not a “hell yes,” it’s a no!
How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I’m better accepting my limitations in terms of my health and my temperament, and I’m not trying to do as much as I did before. I’m also redefining my definition of success so that it’s not so much about income level and job title.
What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
I’m not very good at acknowledging myself and my accomplishments, but looking back I’m proud of myself for what I did with “Recovering Shopaholic” and its follow-on projects. I published over 400 blog posts, wrote two books, and set up a Facebook group (now transferred to new leadership) with over 1300 members. I stuck with “Recovering Shopaholic” for over four years through many health and life challenges, and I know I made a difference with what I did there. I hope that I can continue to help people through “Full Life Reflections,” and I’m excited for the fresh start and new direction here!
What had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
My “peace” theme was life-changing in that it helped me pull back on activities and relationships that weren’t really serving me. It also helped me to better prioritize my health and well-being. I listened to my heart and my gut more, which was highly beneficial to my overall personal evolution (more on this in my next post!).
Coming Attractions and Your Feedback
I hope you found the above resources and glimpse into my personal 2017 debrief process helpful. In my next post, I will share more about how my “peace” theme made a difference in my life last year. I will also let you know what I have selected as my word for 2018 and provide guidance on how you can choose a theme for this year, if you have not already done so.
Now I would love to hear from you:
- If you have done any of the exercises mentioned above – or something similar, what did you learn?
- What were your most powerful lessons from 2017?
- How would you answer the questions I highlighted above? (I also welcome your feedback on what I shared)
- What were your greatest wins, challenges, and memories from last year?
I invite you to answer these questions in the comments section. You’re also welcome to share anything you’d like related to today’s post. I look forward to reading your thoughts and insights.