End of year reflection in action
The end of the year is a time for celebrating, refreshing and reflection. I often talk about the value of reflection at any time of year. However, the end of the year has a different feel to it. Reviewing the year that has been provides a timeframe and marker to measure progress, achievements and lessons learned.
Here I am sharing my reflection of 2018. I feel this is the best way to show ‘how to do a year in review’. It provides a practical example of what it looks like. Questions to ask, the range of topics to assess, how any feedback for yourself – no matter how big or small, can be useful information.
While I feel I am being honest about myself and my life, it feels a little uncomfortable to be so open about it. I do this in the hope that it may help or encourage you as you look back on the year that was, and gaze toward the next one that is unfolding for us.
What did I enjoy most?
Taking an extended summer holiday at the start of 2018. I took two months off work in January and February and it was a wonderful time to get stuff done. I was able to organise a lot of things, and start this blog which was important to me. I enjoyed having freedom to do as I pleased, while still being productive.
Writing. During my summer holiday I did a lot of writing and really enjoyed the creative outlet. I felt the words flow to me and felt activated and energised by what I was writing. I also found a supportive online community for writers at Medium.com.
Holiday to Japan. Japan is a destination I had longed to travel to. This year I finally made it and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed the skiing, and moved from being a ‘terrible’ beginner, to a ‘regular’ beginner. Exploring different cities, food and culture felt expansive for my soul.
Meeting some wonderful people. Read more about this below in ‘Who inspired me?’
Returning to running. I used to do fun runs in my mid-twenties, but then stopped for many years. This year I joined Parkrun and have loved the community feel of each event. It is a healthy activity and a great way to start my weekend.
Swimming at the beach. Having moved from Brisbane to Sydney this year, one thing I was looking forward to about my new city was exploring new beaches. I have found a local beach that I love going to. It feels like an oasis in the city. Swimming there is cleansing for body and mind and I find it helps restore me each time.
Yin Yoga. I have practiced a few types of yoga, but this year I found a lovely yoga studio close to home that offers yin yoga. I try to get to one class each week as it is a nice time out of the busy pace of life. It is a gentle practice that balances my mind and body.
What am I most proud of?
Starting my blog. It is something that was stirring inside me, now it is an outlet and expression of who I am. I love having a place to share stories and lessons in the hopes it will help others.
Consistently writing on my blog each and every week of this year. When I started the blog, I made a commitment to myself that I would post on it every week. I have kept true to my word, which I am really proud of. Partly because I tend to prioritise external obligations, i.e. I am usually more accountable to others than to myself. Consistency of posting has been a big achievement for me personally and professionally.
Making progress with my running goals. This year I ran a 5km run without stopping to walk during it and I have run two 10km fun runs. My goal for next year is to run 10km in under an hour. I am a way off that right now, but the only way I can get there is by showing up and running often this year, making progress on the way.
What didn’t work well?
Looking after myself. I started a lot of great habits and tried out activities and routines that were productive, inspired creativity and were healthy for me. But I didn’t stick with them. I swung from one thing, got into it, felt good, then stopped as I allowed daily stressors to take over. I’d hit a low point, then reinvigorate myself to try something again, or something new, then repeat. For example, I started a daily meditation practice at the start of the year. Once it became a habit it was easy to do. But when I went on holiday my routine changed and I didn’t get back into it. I picked it up a few times during the year, but did not stick with it.
Comfort eating. A year ago, I was fit and healthy. This year I struggled with changes in my life and the stresses of work, and I turned to junk food to cheer me up. It is silly as I know food only brings a momentary slice of happiness but then is followed by regret and physically not feeling well. Eating a heap of ice cream before bed does not assist with a good night of sleep. I gained weight, no longer feeling comfortable in my clothes. This is not about my size, but more about feeling comfortable with who I am – in my skin and my clothes and being a healthy version of me.
While I blogged consistently (yay me), I did struggle with how I felt about doing it each week. It felt burdensome at times and a chore, rather than a joy and an activity I could do with ease, like when I started the blog. Granted, I had time off work when I started it – so more time was available to me to write. Still, a single blog post each week is not a huge ask, but at times it felt really difficult. Why? Because I wasn’t doing enough to fill me up.
You can’t pour from an empty cup.~ Ursula Foster
I need to do things that inspire me creatively while also taking care of myself so I have the energy to pursue my goals and what is important to me.
Sleep. I did not get enough good sleep this year. Too often I was getting 5 hours or less a night. Either I was having trouble getting to sleep, having broken or disturbed sleep, or waking up too early.
What could I have done better?
Followed my own advice more consistently!
I’ve learned a lot of lessons, but find I am making the same mistakes over and over. For example, I clean up my diet, but then let junk food enter and take over. This reduces my energy and affects my sleep and moods – which leads to further poor choices as I don’t have the inner-strength to choose better, and instead go for the easy, fast, high calorie options.
Find a way to blog so it doesn’t feel like a chore. For example, work out a time each week when I feel most creative and productive. Or do batch work – dedicating a day each month to creating the next month of posts. Although I am proud of showing up each week to my desk to write, I felt pressured by time, rather than inspired to write and this did not work for me.
Who inspired me?
I met a lot of lovely people this year, mostly via social media. Some of the people who inspired and encouraged me this year were kind enough to share their stories and be featured in the Community of Confidence.
Alex – this year I have seen Alex define and redefine her brand and business. All the while being true to herself, her character and strengths. Alex is energetic in her creativity and vision, while creating a sense of community and bringing others on the journey – together.
Amanda – the woman behind Scented Purpose, Amanda and her daughter run a small business with a big heart. I love seeing Amanda’s values in action. They donate a share of their revenue to Share the Dignity, a women’s charity that makes a difference in the lives of homeless women and victims of domestic violence. The family and charitable values that run through Amanda’s business and her message are inspiring.
Hannah – I met Hannah earlier this year at a coffee meet-up that she organised for fellow small business babes. Since then I have seen her business grow, while also seeing Hannah show and share more of who she is in the process. Hannah is open, vulnerable and real. She is authentic to her brand and what she stands for and is an example of someone living their life confidently.
I look forward to seeing the journey of each of these lovely ladies in 2019.
What themes emerge from the reflection above?
Health is important to me. Health and wellbeing are the foundation for everything else. Better eating, regular exercise and improved sleep. With more energy and vitality, I feel creativity would follow.
Stickability – consistency is an area I lacked this year. I need to improve how I stick with healthy habits and the activities that matter. For example, spend more time embedding healthy habits into my routine. Meditation, journaling, yoga, running, eating healthy foods and working on my sleep. Figuring out how to do these tasks so they work best for me.
How will I use this information in 2019?
Just be it! Be the person I want to be instead of regretting who I have been in the past. The past does not have to continue to define me – it only does so when I let it. I feel I have let old ways and experiences challenge me while I try to move forward. Instead of being the person who lets themselves down by not being healthy and consistent, I will be healthy and consistent.
Focus on being who I want to be, now, always, in all ways – then do it!
My word for 2019…
This is what stands out to me as I look over my reflection. This is the opportunity I have to be all I want to be, do all I want to do, achieve my goals and live my life confidently.
How to do a year in review
This review has helped me identify what stood out most – for good and bad reasons. It helps me understand what is important to me and the opportunities I have for growth. This in turn informs my priorities for next year, and then I can make goals from there.
I hope my example above provides some food for thought on how you could approach your year in review.
I wonder – what trends emerge for you this year? What are your priorities for next year? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to know.