Wednesday, January 1, 2020

How To Do a Year End Retrospective

Before we start choosing our resolutions, word for the year, or motto, we need to take some time to reflect on the past year. I recently heard someone call it a retrospective and I think that is a perfect word for making the most out of our 2019 life inventory. Get your calendars out, pull up your Instagram account, or sit down with your planner and let's get started. 

Start in January and go month by month listing the way you spent your time. Your planner/calendar is good for this. Your Instagram account or Facebook is a pretty good indicator of things you did you were proud enough of that you shared them. 

My daughter gave me a calendar this year that was a bunch of individual cards in a case. At the end of each month, as I pulled the new card for the next month forward, I flipped the previous month's card over and I wrote a couple of things that were my favorite memories for that month on the back. Those things that I noted are things I'd like to do more of in the coming year. 

While a year seems like it flies by it is actually a pretty good chunk of time. A lot of the things I did weren't on my list on January 1. You simply can't predict all the opportunities or obstacles that will be presented to you over the next 12 months so at the end of the year it's also fun to include some things on your TA-DA! list. I have always done this and called it my to-done list, which makes no sense except to me but then I heard Gretchen Rubin talk about the same concept as a ta-da list. It sounds so much better. 

These are the things that you accomplished that weren't on your To-Do list. Kind of like when you do a bunch of extra chores and write them down on your To-Do list just so you can cross them off. 

Come on, you know you do it. 

After you review how you spent your time, ask yourself some questions: 

What did you do that you are most proud of? 

What would you want to do more of? 

What did you learn? 

Write those things down. That's the direction you want to go in for 2020. Now you are ready to think about how to prioritize and schedule your shiny new year! 

Several years ago I read about a wise person who said that most of us think life is like a train ride where you figure out where you want to go and you imagine if you make the right decisions along the way you'll arrive safely at your destination. 

In fact, it's much more like sailing in a boat. You have a destination but some days or weeks or years the seas are rough.  Suddenly the wind changes. You catch a tailwind and sail along with ease or you enter the doldrums and can't seem to make any progress. A crosswind rises up and you must correct your course and adjust the sail to keep moving in the right direction. Perhaps you even decide your original destination isn't where you want to go and you replot your course.  

As you look back over your year don't beat yourself up because you didn't lose those ten pounds
yet again or didn't get that promotion. You did the best you could. After one particularly bad time I wrote down every bad thing I could think of that happened or hurtful thing someone said and threw those scraps of paper into the fire on New Year's Eve. 

Dramatic, I know. 

But sometimes it can help to have a physical action to go along with mental, emotional, and spiritual reckonings. I have a friend who burned all her journals after she came through a painful period. If you need to let go of some negativity from the past months or years make a plan to do it sooner rather than later. 

Be sure not to overly focus on the negative. Write down all the kindnesses that were done for you or moments of joy. A movie that lifted you up or coffee with a friend. Let's start our new year off with a spirit of joy. 

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