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Personal end of year review - journaling questions

Updated: Jan 8, 2022

2021, what a year, eh? We all thought this one will be much better than 2020, but I am pretty sure it is fair to say that it was actually much harder. For me anyway. So much confusion and so little control over anything. Not gonna lie, I am pretty proud of myself for getting through this. I created this website, worked with coaching clients for the first time and started my podcast. I also did six months meditation teacher training. It is fair to say that I am a very different person to who I was at the beginning of the year. On the flip-side, this year also brought probably some of the most miserable failures - applying and not getting jobs that I really wanted, constantly pushing uphill with very little reward at times. But I tell you what, kind words from people made all the difference. Kindness is everything.

New Year, New Me

How do you feel about New Year's resolutions? Some people love a resolution, the feeling of a clear page and a new start. And there are a very few who actually stick to their resolutions and manage to change their life starting on January the 1st. But for many it comes as a punishment after too much indulgence after festivities. And that's why most of us fail.

Most of resolutions come from a place of fear of not being good enough. So we are trying to force ourselves into change from a very negative, and often dark, place. It’s like shaming people to loose weight, which has been proven to have the opposite effect. You can’t shame yourself into being a better person. How about we swap it around? You are enough. Just as you are. You are wonderful and worthy if existence. And if nothing changes in the next year - you are still good. This is your permission to not to have a resolution if needed one.

Why new year resolutions don’t work

  • They come from the place of fear of not being good enough - ‘I must be better’. Try swapping to ‘I love myself and this is how I can be even better’

  • Very broad, for example ‘to loose weight’. It is just too big of a goal for our brain. Instead break it down - cook three meals every week, go on three big walks every week, go to sleep at 11pm every night etc.

  • Negative instead of positive - instead of ‘don’t do that’ change to ‘bring more of’.

  • New habits are really bloody hard! A great book about habits is called 'Atomic habits' by James Clear.

Top tips for setting resolutions (if you decide that you want change)

But for some, this feels like a great place to create change that we have been craving for a while. It just never felt like the right time, so naturally the start of the new year can be a great place to start. Here are some of the top tips if you crave change in the new year:

  • Being gentle to yourself (If you were chatting to a friend what would you say?)

  • Peel away layers of external expectations that are making your life heavy. (Why do you want to achieve this? What will happen when you get there?)

  • Gentle goals instead of regimented lists of impossible things that will end up making you feel worst about yourself

  • Envisioning a future you and go from there - What kind of person do you want to be? Someone who goes for a walk twice a week or drinks less coffee instead of 'be less lazy'.

Journaling questions to review the previous year

Every December I find it very therapeutic to do a review of the previous year. If this is something you fancy doing, here are a few journaling questions that you can ask yourself. I do recommend getting yourself a delicious hot drink, a beautiful notebook and finding a quiet spot, maybe even lighting a candle.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What few words I would use to describe the past year? Why did I choose those words?

  • What are my most favourite moments that brought me joy?

  • What do I want to carry through to the next year? What do I want to continue doing?

  • What challenges I had in the last year? What have I learned from that? What wisdom have I gained?

  • If I was my best friend, what would I say to myself right now?

  • In what ways can I be more kind and gentle to myself next year?

  • How do I want to feel next year?

  • What brings me joy and light in life?

  • How can I bring more of that into my daily life?

Another thing that I like to do, is write myself a letter about where I want to be and more importantly how I want to feel during the year. I sometimes go back to it during the year but it is always nice to read it in December to see how far I managed to get. All I'm going to focus on this year - to stop trying to force myself into a box and focus on being simply happier every single day.

I have recorded a podcast episode about this topic, which you can listen to HERE.


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