5 End-of-Year Reflection Questions to Set You Up for 2020
"How is it already the end of the year?”
If you’re thinking that, you’re far from alone.
In this hustle, always-on culture, it’s easier than ever to race through our days, weeks, and even months without taking time to simply stop.
And to think about how we’re feeling and doing as we dash through it all.
The good news: It’s never too late to stop and reflect—and doing so comes with major benefits. Studies show that people who reflect actively strengthen their emotional intelligence, making it easier to cope with new challenges that may come their way.
The end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your 2019 and pinpoint the lessons you want to take into 2020. Think of it as gathering your hindsight for 2020.
But before you dive into your reflection, be sure to set a tone of self-compassion.
As you look back on the year you’ve had—which, for all of us, comes with highs and lows—be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like a friend, and know the goal of self-reflection isn’t to shame yourself for what happened in the past year but to get curious and gain clarity for the future.
As Laurel Halloran, Ph.D., so perfectly explains: “It is not an opportunity to get an exact ‘do-over,’ but by critically examining our experiences it gives us a chance to have a ‘do-better’ in the future.”
Here, we rounded up five questions to help you reflect on your 2019. We'll be digging into one of these questions each day in the Daily Shine in the Shine app—our morning podcast-meets-meditation—so you can tackle them one at a time with us and hear reflections from other Shine members.
Or, dive in on your own. Grab your journal, a piece of paper, or start a new Notes file on your phone—let’s look back before we move forward.
1. What did you accomplish this year—big and small, planned and unplanned?
So often, we forget to savor our wins. Look back on your year and notice the accomplishments you’ve had.
Think: What’s something big you worked towards and accomplished? Anything small that you mastered? And here’s a fun one: What did you accomplish that you didn’t plan to do? What surprise skill did you build?
Studies show it’s also beneficial to celebrate your near wins—it helps you build more motivation. What’s something you almost accomplished that you want to keep tackling in 2020?
What did you accomplish that you didn’t plan to do? What surprise skill did you build?
2. How did you challenge yourself to grow this year?
As nerve-wracking as it can feel, stepping outside your comfort zone is a chance to learn and grow in a new way. Notice the times you stepped outside of your comfort zone this year, and take pride in how you challenged yourself.
Remember: It’s not about whether you succeeded or not, either—FAIL stands for First Attempt in Learning.
3. What new opportunities came out of difficulties you faced?
If you’ve experienced a hardship in the past year, it’s normal to feel a sense of loss. While nothing can change what happened to you, studies show that reflecting on new doors that have opened may help you move forward and feel a sense of growth.
Think about any new opportunities that have opened or might open in the wake of your difficult experiences. They could be anything from new goals, activities, friends, values, or ideas.
4. What did you learn you need?
Having needs doesn’t make you needy. We all have needs, and identifying them can lead to better relationships, emotional stability, and more.
What have you learned you need in the past year? It can range from emotional (acceptance, appreciation) to even your physical wellbeing (space, movement). If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a list that can help you here.
5. What can you let go of that didn’t serve you?
Finally: You don’t have to bring everything with you into 2020.
A New Year is a perfect chance to let go of things that don’t serve you. It could be a limiting story you tell yourself, an Instagram habit, or even a negative mindset about a part of your life.
Think: What do you want to release before you move into 2020? Thank whatever it is for teaching you something about yourself, then see what happens if you commit to letting it go.
By letting go of what doesn’t serve you, you’ll open yourself up to new potential and a new way of seeing things in 2020.
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