I am sure that so many of you can relate when I say that the shorter days and the colder weather (even though it is nowhere near as cold as it should be for this time of the year) invite a calmer and more introverted way of spending evenings and weekends. The tee selection is being plundered and we may even think about a cosy evening with a hot chocolate and a blanket on our couch or in bed. Just like mother nature intended, we feel the need to look inwards and preserve our energy for the spring to come. Not just because tradition tells us or because the impending start of the new year makes it logical to do so, but solely based on our human rhythm and yearly cycle do we all naturally arrive at a state of reflection and contemplation.
And even though it intrinsically feels right to slow down and press pause, our daily lives more often than not ask something completely different from us. For many, the end of the year is marked as one of the busiest with strict professional deadlines and stressful social events. Finding the peace and quiet you so desperately need and desire can be tricky. If we don’t go about this intentionally, it might even happen that we blink with our eyes once and find ourselves in January, not knowing how we actually went about the festive season. Like with so many other important things in life, being conscious and mindful about our practices and routines is critical. Because if there is one thing that neuroscientists are in agreement with, it is the fact that metacognition (the thinking about our thinking) is an important driver in our personal development, skill enhancement and ability to navigate new and unforeseen challenges in life.
“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instil in us.” - by Hal Borland
But how do we approach our end-of year reflections more intentionally? How do we make sure that we use this quiet and peaceful time to be grateful for all there is while simultaneously looking for opportunities to grow and develop ourselves? The choice for your mode of reflection is very individual and dependent on personal preference. For sure we know that “just” reflecting in your head is less effective compared to for example actually talking about your thoughts out loud to a friend or writing them down in a journal. The act of expressing yourself makes you connect the dots of your storyline even better and when putting a pen to paper, the manual movements of writing by hand support your critical thinking and creativity abilities.
However you choose to reflect, there are several different focus points you can concentrate on to structure your routine and make sure that you go at it as intentionally as possible. Here are our 5 suggestions with 30 critical reflection questions:
Reflections on learnings
- What are important learnings you had this year?
- Which situations have had a profound impact on your life?
- What exactly happened there?
- How did you handle the situation?
- How could you have handled it differently?
- What did you learn about yourself?
Reflections on behaviours
- Which behaviours of yours are you especially proud of?
- Which ones do you regret the most?
- What is it about the behaviour that you do or do not like?
- What has the outcome been of that behaviour?
- What do you need to change?
- Who can support you in that change?
Reflections on feelings
- Which feelings have been impactful this year?
- What has been triggering these feelings?
- What was the best part of these feelings?
- What has been the worst part?
- What did your feelings teach you?
- What would you change about your feelings if you could?
Reflections on essentials
- What are my strengths?
- What am I passionate about?
- What inspires me?
- What do I love most about myself?
- How can I invite more of all of that into my life?
- How can I have less energy draining activities and interactions in my life?
Reflections on interactions
- How do I behave in social interactions?
- What are things I do or say in social interactions that I want to avoid in future?
- What do I like about myself in social interactions that I want to even intensify?
- When do I get positive energy from social interactions?
- When do I get negative energy from social interactions?
- How can I optimise my energy balance from social interactions?
Reflection is a powerful tool to engage your brain in general contemplation about your being, your behaviour, and your feelings and values, as well as metacognition - the thinking about your thinking. We analyse, question and most importantly reframe experiences and make meaning of everything that happens to us. We learn and grow and become increasingly able to manage our energy levels, routines, behaviours and social interactions, and thus are better equipped to handle future experiences more in line with how we want to be.
Feel invited to use this time of the year to actually be more quiet and peaceful, and intentionally practise reflection and contemplation so that you make most use of your experiences from this past year and that you are best prepared to face all that is coming your way next year with new alignment and a feeling of being centred and balanced.