The new year is officially here. For all my writing friends out there, I’m sure that by now you’ve all defined your goals and outlined your strategies for achieving them. The days and weeks leading up to the big Oh-One-Oh-One-Twenty-Three has been spent reflecting on the previous year in one form or another.
I, too, have been firmly aboard the reflection train for the past few weeks. If you read my blog, then you know that I enjoy a good journal sesh. Journaling, as I wrote in my post Why I Journal as an Author, has become an invaluable tool when it comes to managing the business of my writing. It is how I explore my successes and failures, my strengths and weaknesses. It is how I identify where I can improve and which strategies are working or not. So naturally, with the symbolic flipping of the calendar to another year, I’ve been spending time engaged in reflective journaling on 2022 to gain insight for how I can make 2023 even better.
Finding inspiration from influencers
I admit: I am a productivity and mindset nut. In the past few years, I’ve really become interested in ways to improve my processes and my outlook. I’ve become more aware of my habits and how I can make them work for me. I’ve become more interested in apps and tools to help me plan and track. And I’ve become giddy about new tech that can help me achieve better results (more on this in a future post… but I’ll mention that one such tech piece involves the Apple Pencil and GoodNotes).
A lot of these tips, tricks and general bursts of motivation I get from influencers whom I enjoy learning from. When it comes to reflecting on the previous year, I’ve been able to gain several ideas from particular handful of my favourite influencers:
Michelle Barnes a.k.a. MuchelleB – Michelle focuses on self-compassionate productivity and behaviour change that help you improve your output and your mindset. She regularly reads improvement and productivity books and uses her resulting insights in her YouTube posts. On reflection, I realized that a lot of the tips I’ve implemented have come from the books she has read and commented on. I have therefore resolved to begin reading these books myself, beginning with The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington (I’m only on the intro chapter, but already my highlight tool has been going nuts).
Lavendaire – Like MuchelleB, Aileen Xu focuses on personal growth and lifestyle design. Many of the questions I asked myself when journaling and reflecting on this past year have come from her suggestions.
Jules Acree – I was inspired to create my own Notion catalogue from some of Jules’ posts on this productivity app. In reviewing my year, I’ve resolved to make Notion work even better for me in the planning and tracking of my business, as well as my life. I have even spent time upgrading and redesigning my previously simple approach to my dashboard, based on Jules’s layout. If you don’t know what Notion is… oh boy, you’re in for a treat!
Journaling on specific questions
Like I said, I’ve spent some serious time journaling over the past few weeks. I’m a writer, so naturally my ability to reflect is best served when it’s flowing from my head to my hand and out onto a piece of lined journal paper. It’s been quite a therapeutic process to do a deep dive into specific questions that are geared towards my achievements and shortfalls from this past year. I won’t share the results of my journaling, since the insights I’ve gained are quite personal. But some of the questions I’ve spent time journaling and reflecting on are:
- When I look back on 2022, I can say that it’s the year of…
- Who was I this past year? How did I grow and where did I not grow?
- On the goals I achieved and the growth that I experienced, what skills did I use?
- Where I fell short, what skills could I have used that I will need to work on?
- For the goals I did not reach, what were the external factors that prevented me from doing so? What were the internal factors?
- How do I feel about the goals and growth I did achieve?
When journaling, it’s easy to slip into the habit of answering the “what can I do better” type of questions. But this time, for reflecting, I mentally forced myself to focus only on the past tense. There were times where it was uncomfortable to confront things that I wasn’t happy with, of course. But one thing I did find was that I spent more time on the things I did do well, which I am not naturally inclined to do.
In the end, I’ve found the process of reflecting on the past year both enlightening and unburdening. By examining my year in detail, I’ve been able to look at “failures” objectively, and identify why I “failed.” Quite often, I’ve acknowledged factors that were beyond my control, and in so doing, have discovered areas where I can introduce new strategies to combat future repetitions… which, of course, means I’m not berating myself for being a “failure” in the same way I would have if I hadn’t reflected. And I’ve also spent time reflecting on the things I did do “right,” which I also wouldn’t have done because I’m not one to give myself praise too easily. But in so doing, I’ve been able to identify which strategies have been successful for me, and know now which ones to continue with.
If you’re not one for journaling, I would recommend you at least consider journaling to reflect on your past year. This isn’t aimless scribbling. It’s asking yourself specific questions to force yourself to confront the answers—whether good, bad, positive, negative, or anywhere in between. I learned a lot, as I do every year when I engage in this enlightening pursuit. If you choose to take up the mighty pen and deep-dive into your year, then I hope you learn a lot, too.
For those of you, my friends, who do reflect on your past year, what did you learn, and what questions did you ask yourself? Leave a comment for me. I’d love to know!
Thank you for sharing your review and journaling process. I am so stealing your prompts BTW. Also i have been using Notion for a long time but haven’t seen Jules youtube. So thanks for that recommendation as well.
Hope you have a great 2023
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Lol. Please, steal away! Glad I could be of help, hopefully they work for you, too! 😁
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