When it comes to life planning and goal setting, we treat the start of a new year as the ultimate clean slate.

It makes sense: The new year brings all kinds of energy and emphasis on intentional reflecting. It’s a punctuated pause, helped by the fact that the entire world seems to be slowing down a bit more than normal.

But as the months after January fly by and that excited energy tapers off, where does that leave us?

Often, it means we're going through the motions for the following 11 months—which makes it difficult to stay aligned with what we really want and find the motivation to push ourselves there.

The solution: Embrace that clean slate feeling at the end of every month—not end of the year—and build in time for regular reflection.

Reflection = Key

Reflection is an important tool and a defining habit of those who are more successful and more content with their lives.

The more we can find time to consistently create a ritual for reflection, the more suited we’ll be to make progress on our goals. According to a Harvard Business School report, titled "Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance," reflection can help increase our productivity and build our confidence in the ability to achieve a goal.

The more we can find time to consistently create a ritual for reflection, the more suited we’ll be to make progress on our goals.
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A monthly reflection is an opportunity to look at how you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and use that information in order to decide your next steps—think of it like a monthly "progress report." You can evolve, learn, and create significant momentum in the course of 30 days. Reflecting helps you stay in tune with yourself.

There’s no correct way to reflect—it's all about what feels helpful and beneficial to you. But if you’re looking for some guidance, here are a few steps that can help.

Step 1: Nix Distractions

Before you get into your reflection, block off a distraction free half-hour for yourself (at least).

Put your phone in the other room. Shut the door. Minimize the information coming at you in the form of screens and people, so that you can focus on drawing the information out of you.

Step 2: Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Whether it's in your head or as you journal, as yourself: In the last month...

●︎ What’s my happiest memory?

●︎ What is one lesson I learned and who/what was my teacher?

●︎ What stress or concern worked itself out?

●︎ What areas of my life did I grow the most in? (Ex. relationships, habits, routines, self-compassion)

Step 3: Make an Action Plan

Decide what one, small action you can take from your answers.

For example: If I made the least amount of progress on the novel I wanted to start this year, I can create a calendar reminder for dedicated writing time.

Or: If my happiest memory was a volunteering opportunity, I could make a plan to get more involved with a local organization.

The goal of this step is to make small plans around the energy you want to feel and the progress you want to create.

Make small plans around the energy you want to feel and the progress you want to create.
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Step 4: Set Your Next Reflection Date

Schedule this reflection time into your calendar for the end of every month. It’ll give you the progress check you need to stay on course.

Don’t let an entire year get away from you before you choose to reflect on how you’re feeling and the progress you are (or aren’t) making.

Make a regular commitment to sit with your thoughts and review your actions. You’ll be amazed at how much slowing down and looking at what you’ve done will energize you to keep going.

With a monthly reflection, you’ll develop more self awareness around the choices you’re making, the experiences you’re having, and where your life is headed. You’ll be amazed at how much slowing down and looking at what you’ve done will energize you to keep going.

You’ll be amazed at how much slowing down and looking at what you’ve done will energize you to keep going.
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Read next: [How to Keep the Darkness Out of Your Self-Reflection](https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/how-to-keep-the-darkness-out-of-your-self-reflection/?utm_source=Shine&utm_medium=Blog