New Years has become known as a time for resolutions, which is great (when they actually happen). So often, however, life gets in the way.
This year instead of shaming yourself into change, I want to invite you into a different approach: reflection.
Let me be clear, reflection is not about judgement. When we are too hard on ourselves for what has transpired over the last year, we run the risk of getting caught in the spiraling cycle of shame. Instead, reflection is about getting honest with ourselves and using our experience to inform positive change.
The first step of reflection is to actually pause long enough to think about what has happened over the last year. For many of us, it’s been a whole lot.
After the first step, which I may add is no simple feat, the next step is to fight our tendency toward self-condemnation. How? Focus on the facts and let the judgment thoughts come and then let them go. I like to visualize them as leaves that I throw into a river and watch them float away. The goal is to learn and grow, not to shame or judge ourselves.
The third and final step in the invitation is to ask yourself how you can learn from your experience in a way that lets you live in line with your character and values. For highlights over the past year, maybe it is working in more of what you love. For perceived mistakes or failures, maybe it is allowing yourself to make changes toward growth so that the experience is not wasted.
This approach lets our experiences, whether perceived as good or bad, not go to waste.
So now what?
The following are some questions that you can use as a guide to help aid in your reflection process:
- What were the highlights of my year?
- What were the low points of my year?
- In what ways am I living a life I am proud of?
- In what ways am I not?
- What can I learn from the above answers?
Bonus: Who do I want to become and how can I structure this next year to move me in that direction?
As you reflect on 2021, here is a quote to remind you that it is never too late to make changes to your life:
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).