3 Steps to Reflect and Clarify Focus For the New Year
According to U.S. News & World Report, 8 out of 10 New Year's resolutions fail by February. Read more about why here.
In my post "3 Lies We Tell Ourselves About Getting Healthier", I confessed I'm not a big fan of resolutions in large part due to their high failure rate. Instead of waiting for the "right time" to start, habit change expert James Clear reinforces the idea of starting now and practicing the art of building and maintaining a habit when life is busy. One of the best parts about this approach is that "New Year" reflection and intention or goal setting can be done anytime of the year, not just on January first. Any day can be the start of a "new year". Whenever you decide to turn over a new leaf or start a "new year", here are 3 steps to help you reflect on the prior year and clarify your focus for the new year ahead:
Make a Highlight Reel
Reflect on the last year, and write down your most important moments. Don't just stick to the good stuff or what you might deem "Instagram-worthy". Be sure to list out experiences that encompass both the highs and lows. The goal is to make a list of the moments and experiences (good and bad) that left the biggest impressions and impacts on you.
I recently went through this exercise and used the photos in my phone to save time and help jog my memory. If you have an iPhone, you can zoom out to photos by month or year and then zoom back in by day as needed.
My Freedom Mastery Law of Attraction planner also has a month-end reflection page that prompts you to list your top achievements, fears or obstacles and insights gained at the end of each month. It also prompts you to rate your satisfaction in various areas of your life like finance, career, relationships, health, recreation and personal development using the wheel of life .
I used a combination of both tools, and the whole process took me about 20 minutes. You can use one tool or the other to cut down on time. Don't worry about the size of your list. Just go with your gut. There's really no wrong way to do it.
Reflect on Your Highlight Reel
Now review and reflect on the individual experiences and moments that made your list. Write down what about these experiences made them impactful. How did they make you feel? Were these joyful experiences? Moments of pride? Challenging Moments? For each experience, connect with the specific feelings that come up for you when you think about them. You can use this feeling wheel tool to help name the feelings. Connect with what each impactful experience taught you about yourself, your relationships with others or life in general.
Decide What you Want to Carry Forward and What You Want to Leave Behind
After you reflect on each impactful experience and how they made you feel, put a checkmark next to the experiences and feelings you want more of in the new year and put an "X" next to the ones you want to leave behind. Make the decsion to let go of what no longer serves you and set the intention to create and curate experiences that generate the feelings you want more of in your life. Hang onto the list for safe-keeping. Share it or parts of it with someone you trust, or keep it just for you. Re-review your list throughout the year to check in on your progress and/or re-orient you around what's important. Revise it if needed. The most empowering aspect of this exercise is the ability to:
Name what we want/don't want in our lives
Be intentional around where, to whom and how we direct our most precious non-renewable resoures: our time, energy and attention in order to then generate more of the things we want and less of the things we don't in our lives.
If you give this one a try, let me know in the comments how it went and what came up for you! Was this exercise helpful? What would you add or change?