This time of year has always been a good time for some serious reflection. A chance to think back over the previous 12 months without the distractions of work. A friend of mine told me that their grandmother referred to the week between Christmas and New Year as “between the years”. I like that – a liminal space between the end of one thing and that start of another.
I tend to keep my review pretty straightforward and follow a simple structure each time. I open a new Google Doc and spend a while noting down:
- What went well
- What didn’t go well
- What I’ll start doing next year
- What I’ll stop doing next year
- What I’ll continue to do next year
- Great books I read
- Great films & TV I watched
This handful of headings help me to think back over the year that’s been in a guided way. The notes I’ve taken through the year on Google Keep help to recall what’s gone on, but to be honest I have found that the thoughts and memories which come readily to the surface are the most useful ones to record. It’s always a mixed bag of things from my personal and professional lives, but I don’t really separate the two during this exercise. Both need to be in alignment for me to have a happy and fulfilled life.
Once I’ve spent a couple of hours reflecting in this way (usually with a good album or well-loved film on in the background*) I start to build the results into my habit tracking spreadsheet. That makes sure that every day through the year to come I am holding myself accountable for moving in the direction I know that I need to.
As I said, this kind of structured reflection is a simple process but the payoff of a short exercise in the time “between the years” is huge. I’ve done this for quite a number of years now and will continue to do so in the future.
*This year it was Walt Disney’s 1954 classic “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” if you’re interested!