December is a full-on month and so in this blog post, I give you a short process to review 2021. It will also allow you to release many of the buzzing thoughts you have for 2022 without the pressure of setting goals. This will allow your ambition and curiosity to be sated so you can take well-deserved rest this Christmas.
Here's What To Expect
It’s Time To Review Where You Are Now
The end of the year creates such a frenzy. Not just with the holiday season of parties, presents and wrapping up of work for a much-needed break. But with a desire to review the year and decide what was successful or not.
I know that this process of reviewing where you are at is going on all year through. Your overthinking mind is constantly judging and deciding if you are successful or not in each area of your life. This pushes you all year to learn and do more so come December you are shattered!
A Simple Solution
That’s why I want to offer you a simple way to review 2021. Allowing you to start looking forward without more overwhelm or a need to set hard and fast goals when rest is what is required.
And if this method still feels like too much, lean into that need for rest and take it. This can be done at any time of the year and even just a month at a time.
Remember when you want to take time for introspection, you should carve out some space when it feels good for you. I often find for me this is late at night when my brain is whirring so sleep is a distant friend and I feel comforted by the silence of the house. This however could be the worst time for you and sitting at your desk in the early hours with the sound of birds and the sun rising feels much more aligned. Or more likely somewhere in the middle, just not when you’re hungry (or is that just me).
Start As We Mean To Go On
Okay, so now that we are all sitting comfortably (as they say) let’s begin.
Start by taking 3 deep breaths, extending the inhale and lengthening the exhale with each one and setting an intention, a focus for this moment in time.
Something as simple as I lovingly reflect on 2021 and explore my options for 2022 works well.
Feeling more centred?
Great so get out an A4 sheet of paper and divide it into 4, I do mine landscape (old habit from school?) whereas portrait potentially works best. The left half is all about 2021 and the right will focus on 2022.
At the top of each section, I want you to write the following questions and I will dig deeper into each one as we go along.
1) What have I achieved this year?
2) What have I learnt about myself this year?
3) What do I hope to achieve next year?
4) What do I want to learn more about next year?
It should look something like this:
You can also download this template to print by clicking below
Question 1 - What have I achieved this year?
So with question one we dive deep into your year and looks at all the big and little things that you have achieved.
Start back in January and allow that busy mind of yours to work through the months and pull out only the good, the wonderful and the downright talented.
Staying centred will support you during this exploration and remember to become inquisitive about all areas of your life. Finally don’t forget to spend some time figuring out your blind spots, ask: What would a friend say I have achieved?
Here is the start of mine (can you see now why portrait is a better option):
Stayed healthy through winter
Stayed connected with all my family through lockdowns
Got the vaccine jab early due to a perfectly timed walk
Launched my business brand and website
Qualified as a meditation teacher and improved my daily practice
Built a strong loving relationship and even got engaged
Upped my water intake all through summer
Your mind is likely to want to point out reasons why these aren’t quite perfect, (my website is very much still a work in progress, my partner and I will argue over who empties the dishwasher and I have been terrible at calling my grandma since the summer).
And when it does say thank you but not now.
No one but yourself is ever going to see this, so it’s a perfect opportunity to ditch what you think is realistic (thank you polite culture) and sing your praises.
Enjoy all the wonderful things you do for yourself, they make you special and who doesn’t want to feel that particularly at this time of year!
Question 2 - What have I learnt about myself this year?
Now you are going to switch your focus and look at all the things you have learnt.
Being curious about who you are and what makes you tick is a beautiful thing. It can also take a lot of energy which you don’t even notice disappearing. It’s just a part of what drives you forward.
Therefore I want you (and me) to explore the different paths we walked this year, the avenues that got pondered and to celebrate all that energy and time spent making you a more wonderful aligned you.
So again here is the start of my list, I have learnt:
Who in my life I can ask for help from
What activities I love to do and give me energy
What activities (read chores) I hate to do and drain my energy
Different ways to keep my body healthy
To not run away from my partner during a fight (I finally broke my pattern of co-dependency but that’s another story)
To dial in even deeper to my intuition
Why I love guided meditations, over others, so much
Again these don’t need to be finished articles to have taught you something about yourself. Perhaps you are still learning to meditate regularly but that means you have learnt how to meditate. Maybe in 2021, you haven’t found your way to stay healthy (has anyone with so many restrictions?) but you have found ways that don’t work and that’s progress.
I for example am terrible at an ‘all or nothing approach’. If you tell me I can’t drink wine, I swear I drink more, so I don’t set myself ultimatums anymore.
Question 3 - What do I hope to achieve next year?
Time to switch the focus to moving forward.
Our minds are so quick to dismiss what’s past and move on to the future. It’s part of what makes you the successful and driven human you are. Therefore we must honour our need to look forward when we sit down to review. After all, it’s thoughts of the future that keep us up at night, not the stories of the past.
For example, which do you worry about more? The thing you messed up (work presentation, botched meal, conversation with a friend) or the ways you could have done better?
See we are the same you and I. Always worrying (pulling our mind to the past) about what to do better (fantasising about the future) and therefore rarely having a calm mind (safe in the present).
Anyway, I digress, under this question I want you to capture anything and everything that is rolling around in your mind of things you want to achieve next year, write them all down so that you can sleep soundly this Christmas.
Now I feel the panic and overwhelm rising.
You are not… I repeat NOT going to do all of this list next year!
This isn’t a time for goal setting (that comes next month after a restful and rejuvenating break) we are just trying to allow your mind to quieten knowing all its wonderful ideas are safely stored somewhere.
My crazy list starts as follows:
Plan an amazing wedding
Create a home in our new flat
Don’t get The Virus
Double my business income
Create a bigger group of local friends
Get fit, lift heavier weights
Dry Jan (see ultimatums do sneak back in)
Spend more time with family
Travel to Canada to see my favourite band
Question 4 - What do I want to learn more about next year?
And again, we need to allow that curiosity of yours to shine into next year.
What is it that you are fascinated to learn about? What do you want to discover more about yourself? What piqued your interest this year and fell to the wayside?
This is the internal to match the external (that we just completed), but maybe a little harder to explore and note down. If that’s the case and your mind is being unkind, place self-compassion and kinder inner critic on that list immediately!
To finish, here is my list of explorations:
Fear of new challenges in my business
Speaking up, showing up
My energy and how to preserve it for the good things
The on the list every year… balance between work and my life
My distraction techniques (wine and binge-watching TV) and their triggers
What calms my nervous system the quickest
My battle with routines and daily rituals
I hope this has given you a little freedom from the racing thoughts in your mind. That it has slowed your heart rate and deepened your breath just as it has for me.
Remember as different ideas ping into your mind, jump around the questions and add them to the space. You may wish to keep your copy nearby for a week to add any new thoughts that will inevitably spring up.
Keep Your Ideas Safe
Finally, we want to store this information, I don’t know about you but I hate excess un-homed paper.
I also really don’t get the same value from a review when I type my ideas, for some reason they need to come out all messy onto paper first. Yet I sure as hell don’t have time to type them all up a second time… and neither do you.
So depending on your preference, find somewhere safe to store these ideas:
A picture on google drive (my personal choice, I have a folder dedicated to all the amazing things I learn about myself called ‘My Journey’)
Hole punch and place in a folder
Scrunch/fold into a journal
Scan into image to text software and work some crazy magic
Burn, throw away… safe in the knowledge that our mind has got what it needed from the review (I used to do always do this, however, I get enjoyment from looking back and being reminded of my evolution.)
Other….to suit your style.