Summing up the year on social networks – in the form of a list of achievements and listing personal experiences – is increasingly being criticized. Some call it “vanity fair”, others “emotional exhibitionism”, others are simply irritated by the same topic among an impressive part of friends. One way or another, if this format of summing up helps you “own” your own success, fight impostor syndrome, or simply feel better, don’t deny yourself it.
And yet, here I want to give you two tools for summing up the year that I use in my practice. With them, you will not only appreciate the past year, but also feel more confident in the next one.
Tool one — self-reflection
Self-reflection helps you better understand yourself, your values and motivations. Coaches love to incorporate this tool into their clients’ professional and personal lives because it promotes personal growth, increases self-awareness, helps them better communicate their feelings, thoughts, and desires, and develops decision-making skills (1).
When engaging in self-reflection, try to be objective but kind to yourself. Excessive self-criticism can be harmful. So on those days that you engage in self-reflection, incorporate a gratitude practice.
Perhaps the best time for self-reflection is not the pre-New Year bustle, but one of the meditative post-New Year days, when you can calmly set aside a couple of hours for it.
Make yourself a nice warm drink, get comfortable with a notepad or laptop and get down to business.
Write a list of the most significant personal events of the year. Both positive and negative: successes and failures, quarrels and new connections, making money and unsuccessful investments, quarrels on social networks and posts that received support (if this is important to you). Remember: you are doing this for yourself. There is no point, for example, in embellishing joyful events or downplaying the power of destructive emotions in difficult moments. Find at least five such events, but don’t get carried away – don’t take more than 10-12 situations the first time so as not to lose focus.
1. What happened?
Describe each situation in simple words. For example: “I went on a dream trip,” “My best friend stopped talking to me,” or “I never managed to exercise regularly.”
2. How did you feel and how did you react in this situation?
Try to recreate your emotions at that moment, and not write down how you are experiencing it now. For example: “I felt like I was living life to the fullest, I finally felt like myself, every day I was happy about something. I enjoyed every moment”, “I felt abandoned and abandoned, I did not understand what was happening, why my friend was doing this after all these years. I didn’t show my feelings and waited for him to go to the meeting himself” or “I felt that this was about to happen: I had to submit one project, wait for the right moment, get up at 7 in the morning and I would definitely train. But the further it went, the more hopeless it seemed.”
3. What did I understand thanks to this situation? What have I learned?
And here is a field for something that you may not have thought about before. Give yourself time to analyze the situation and its consequences, and where you have come to now. For example: “I realized that traveling is very important for me and helps bring back the taste of life. I learned to turn off my phone when traveling and completely surrender to adventures” or “I realized that you need to be more attentive to the feelings of people, to value those who have been with you for a long time and have experienced a lot. I learned to appreciate those close to me,” “I realized that thanks to this situation I got rid of the friendship to which I was accustomed, but which constantly brought discord into my life. I learned to let people go” or “I realized that I don’t like the gym and that I couldn’t force myself to work out at 7 am. I learned not to buy expensive season tickets for the whole year.”
4. How can this experience make my life better? What can I do based on my experience?
There may be quite general words here, but the more specific the conclusions are and the more actions there are, the more useful it may be. For example, “I will plan at least two trips this year and will remember their importance, despite other things and expenses,” “I will not hush up misunderstandings in relationships with people and will try to clarify the situation before the irreparable happens,” “ I will try different types of workouts at different times to see what works for me. Maybe online yoga classes after work are what I need.”
Analyze each situation sequentially – from the first to the fourth point. Try to move away from feelings of guilt to a sense of personal responsibility. Separate those moments that depend on you from those that are beyond your control (you can simply note them for yourself). Give equal attention to failures and successes. We often chalk failures up to ourselves and perceive successes as a gift of fate. It is important to analyze and understand what exactly led you to a positive event in order to try to recreate the same situation in the future.
Tool two – gratitude
Usually we make wishes for the next year based on what we would like to have, receive, achieve. And behind this, everything important that we already have, what we have achieved and what makes up our life every day is often lost. How about taking stock of what you are grateful for during the winter holidays, either mentally or with family and friends? This is necessary not only to understand the important moments of life, but also simply to feel happier even in sad times (2).
Research has shown that regular gratitude practice can improve sleep quality, help control blood pressure, blood sugar, asthma and eating habits. (3). Maybe you would like to sum up with gratitude not only every year, but every day?
Here are some prompt questions for this practice:
1. What do I value that is present in my life every day?
These can be both luxury items and the simplest things that we take for granted, but which today still remain a privilege – affordable drinking water, fresh food, clean air, a warm bed, access to medicine. Or maybe this is your favorite mug, the coffee from which every morning seems especially tasty and charged with optimism.
2. Who do I value in my life?
Be honest with yourself. You are not at the Oscars, do not write formalities in the form of “family, producer, film academy.” Write to those who really nourish your strength, fill your life with meaning, help you feel like yourself, or those who, by the fact of their existence, make you a little happier (I know at least two people who have Pedro Pascal on this list, for example) . And if the creature closest to you is your favorite furry goon (perhaps we’re talking about your husband, but I’m more likely talking about a cat or a dog), thank him and yourself from the bottom of your heart for having each other.
3. What am I grateful for?
Perhaps in the past year you founded a successful startup, bought a house, saved several families in a fire, and ran an ultramarathon. Or maybe, on your best days, you were able to talk yourself into brushing your teeth and doing the bare minimum to ensure that you could continue to exist on this place called Earth. Be that as it may, write at least 30, and ideally 100 points of gratitude to yourself. From the most seemingly insignificant (“I always say hello to my neighbors in the elevator”), to the important (“I didn’t make a deal with my conscience, I didn’t betray, I didn’t sign”).
4. What things can I feel grateful for from other people?
A porch washed by someone, bread baked, a song recorded, an application created – as a rule, we perceive all this as something that simply exists. Connecting with those who provide with their labor what our daily lives consist of will help us feel a sense of community with the whole world and appreciate more what we already have.
True gratitude is more than just a social formality. This is a deep awareness of the importance of things and phenomena…