In the mad dash to the end of the year, it's easy to be swept into the busyness of the season. But amidst the rush, take time for yourself to reflect on 2014 before diving into the year ahead.
Each year, I write up 12 questions to help reflect on the year past and to get ready to start anew. This year's list features many questions framed within a lens of positivity and appreciation. According to neuroscientists, the positive moments are more "slippery" in memory and more likely to be forgotten so we have to work harder to bring them to the fore.
Don't be a Grinch, so be sure to celebrate what went well in 2014. Take stock of the good, alongside the challenges, and complete your year with a more balanced perspective and a dose of positivity to fuel 2015.
THE YEAR PAST
1) What went well?
It's easy to forget the good stuff amidst the 'tough' memories of the past year. So rewind your 2014 video and mine it for all that went well. Dip in generously and pull out all the good nuggets – big and small. Write them down; you may be surprised about what kind of year you really had.
2) What changed for the better?
Chances are you've changed in some way from a year ago. In what ways did you grow and evolve? What new skills, knowledge, habits and experience did you acquire that made you a better version of yourself?
3) What were the gifts of 2014?
Gifts come in all sizes and packages. Reflect on the stand-out moments, experiences and circumstances of the past year and try to identify the silver lining in each of them. Some will be obvious but others may take more digging. For example, if you lost a job or suffered a disappointment, perhaps that event made you stronger or propelled you to take action. As one door closed is it possible that new doors have or are about to open up for you?
4) What and who are you most grateful for right now?
Practice gratitude daily because it sparks positive emotions and habits you can cultivate to bolster your success and well-being. Reflect and write down all that you are grateful for right now. Consider all facets of your life – health, social, career, family, and other. In particular, think about the people in your life that you appreciate and find ways to express thanks to them. Mark your year-end with a big dollop of gratitude and you will see a shinier year both behind and ahead of you.
5) What do you need to let go of or complete to start 2015 anew?
We need to make space for the new and for the good – because sometimes the old stuff gets in the way. Take time to let go of or clean out anything that is in the way of you bringing the best of yourself to 2015. Perhaps you need to declutter of your physical space; or let go of an old resolution or goal.
6) What's your theme for the past year?
Wrap up your year by giving it a name. Complete this phrase: "For me personally, 2014 was the year of ___"
THE YEAR AHEAD
7) What changes would you like to make?
Consider both personal and professional contexts. Clarifying and declaring what you want is the first step to creating a vision for your future. Then you need a follow-up plan as well.
8) If you could celebrate just one accomplishment at the end of 2015 what would it be?
What would be tangible proof of you moving forward on something important? Then reflect on what actions you can take to make this happen. Consider new habits, commitments, and support systems that need to be part of your plan.
9) What are your learning goals for 2015?
All too often we create 'having' goals but omit 'learning' goals. People who continually develop themselves and are open to learning are more apt to feel engaged, inspired and energized which can help them accomplish more. While learning can be a means to an end, it can also be satisfying on its own merit. What skills, habits, and new areas will be part of your personal learning agenda in 2015?
10) How will you boost your positivity this year?
Positivity has been proven to increase your potential for success and well-being. The science says we need a daily diet of positive emotions – especially when the going gets tough. What will you do to ensure you bring more positive emotions and moments to your day? Read here for some ideas.
11) What and who will inspire you in the year ahead?
Inspiration is another powerful positive emotion that can spark better thinking, more productivity, happiness and well-being. Inspiration can come from people, events, ideas, or more. Perhaps join up with a networking or learning group; Connect with or follow on social media thought-leaders and people who move you; Be aware of what inspires you and plan to get more of it.
12) What's your theme for the year ahead?
Complete this sentence: "As I reflect on my year ahead, this will be the year of ____"
Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is a work-life and leadership coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto. She is the author of Ease, a book offering strategies to manage overwhelm in times of 'crazy busy.'