self reflection

The turning of the year into a brand new calendar is always a time to reflect upon the experiences and lessons of the previous twelve months, in order to be better prepared for that which lies ahead.

2012 no doubt held both victories and disappointments for you; perhaps some areas of your life improved while others may have grown weak. Do not bristle at change in your life, for it is all we can really be certain of. Take this cold time of winter as a chance to truly reflect on your previous year, to take stock of your life’s past, present and future in order to more fully know yourself. Set aside a quiet morning or afternoon with a cup of tea and no distractions to truly think about and answer the following questions.

Take as much time and use as much (recycled) paper as you want to write your answers down, letting your brain roam free across the page like a wild animal that trusts in the power of its subconscious brain to follow the right path. Break the questions up and answer one per day you want, or if you don’t like writing, talking into a digital recorder will work just as well to capture your reflections.

Looking back on 2012:

  • How have you spent your time this year? Where did you find yourself the majority of the time? Were you smiling, or scowling?
  • What accomplishments did you achieve in 2012? Remember to count small victories, and don’t miss the ones that are so immense that they have become your new normal.
  • What were your sorrows and disappointments? Counting our blessings is important, but so is recognizing our letdowns.
  • What lessons did you learn from your disappointments?
  • What inspired you in 2012? What people, ideas, books, music, artwork, movies or events shifted you off your center (in a good way) and lit a fire in your spirit?
  • How are you different than you were one year ago today, in both good and bad ways?

Looking forward to 2013:

  • How can you apply the lessons you learned from your disappointments to your future?
  • What items have been stuck on your “to-do” list for far too long? What would happen if you decided to take them off entirely? What new approaches can you take to solve old problems? Remember, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity (according to Einstein, anyway).
  • What do you want to focus on in the coming year? For each large goal you would like to achieve (be healthier, save more money, go on vacation), think of three tiny steps that will get you closer to realizing it (eat berries every day at breakfast, set up an automatic bank transfer from checking to savings account, buy a Europe guidebook).
  • What do you want in life? In one sentence written by the very highest and wisest part of yourself, try to sum up your most important wishes and desires.

Record your thoughts, then stash them away until December 2013, when you can meet yourself again on paper one year from now to measure your triumphs and failures, and to know yourself even more clearly.

Image: swimparallel