Reflecting on the You that was

Whether this was a banner year or one you’ll be happy to see in the rear-view mirror, December often feels like a turning point. Before rounding the bend into the new year, take the time to check in on your well-being, and whether you need to change tack going forward. That’s going to involve a little reflection.

What is reflection?

Reflection doesn’t simply involve thinking about “what happened.” Instead, it’s a process of understanding your role in an experience and involves considering your thoughts and emotions during and about the experience, as well as the memories it evokes.

Forget about everyone else

Self-evaluation can lead you to compare yourself to others and bump up against other people’s expectations. Often, these comparisons aren’t in your favor and can be harmful to your emotional well-being.

Instead, check in with yourself to be sure that goals you establish are aligned with what you truly want and aren’t simply what’s expected. Let go of any goals that aren’t really yours and any negative feelings you may have about not achieving them. After all, they weren’t your goals anyway.

Reflect on well-being

Well-being involves much more than simply your physical and mental health. In fact, there are multiple other facets to consider, including emotional, social, spiritual, professional, and financial well-being. As you reflect on your progress in the past year and make adjustments for 2023, be sure to consider each of these areas.

Celebrate your victories

If you’ve been keeping a journal, it’s a good time to read through your year’s musings. If you don’t journal, flip through your calendar for memory prompts. List everything you’d like to celebrate from the past year.

Include big gains, such as bringing home a baby or making your final mortgage payment. But small things count, too, such as applying for a job, finding your old (but still perfectly wearable) cowboy boots in the back of the closet, or asking that cutie out on a date. Record at least 30 little victories. (Yes, you did have 30 victories!)

Acknowledge your losses

Crappy stuff happened this year, too. Maybe you were restructured out of a job. Maybe your relationship ended. To learn from these experiences, consider your personal responsibility in each of them.

What would you do differently?

Reflect on what you learned from your victories and losses. What new things did you or could you try? Where do you repeat patterns? Are you stepping out of your comfort zone enough so that you can experience new things and personal growth? Are you being authentic? Do you need to put your fitness goals front and center? Is it time to change your relationship with money?

When you have clarity about who you are and what you want, creating goals is enjoyable, because they mean something to you. And when something is fun, you’re more likely to do it.

By Lisa Petty, PhD