What is that makes this year special?

With the new year comes a refueled motivation to improve on the past one. – Gretchen Bleiler

As the new year approaches, we always feel compelled to look back and examine what’s going on. Did we achieve what we wanted to achieve? Was the year good or bad? What did it leave us with? What made this year special? Let’s ask these questions together and consider what made this year special and what we can learn from it.

What have you achieved?

The first question to ask is what you achieved. Your first answer might be “nothing”, but there is no way that’s true. When we talk about achievements, we talk about any steps forward you took, no matter how small they were.

Ask yourself this question about different areas of your life. Was there something you managed to do professionally? Was there progress in regards to your emotions, your knowledge, your skill, your hobbies? Did you manage to solve a problem?

Sometimes, you will have an enthusiastic answer because of the big things that you manage. However, it’s normal to feel like there is nothing coming to mind. Take your time and look for achievements; ask for help, if need be. Celebrate whatever you managed to do this year, and it’s fine if it involved mostly surviving the year.

What have you learned?

Take some time to focus on the new things you learned. Did you develop fresh skills or knowledge? Did you cultivate a new ability? Did you read something that changed your perspective?

Don’t look just for big changes or huge leaps forward. Some years, you will find yourself starting or finishing a degree or taking a course. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, you end the year knowing a new recipe or having learned a fun new fact about the world. Sometimes, you learned a couple of things about yourself or others. Make the question an open one and consider also the lessons that the world has left you with during this year.

What has changed about you?

The next question is about seeing how you have changed. Have you improved? How have you grown? What is different about you now? This is a series of questions that is not easy to answer because we tend to miss the changes that happen over time. Make a space for yourself to see what has changed about you and focus on the internal growth you have had.

Consider what is different and how you feel about it. Do you feel good about the change? Does it worry you? Take some time to sit with the different elements of your self and allow yourself to recognize them.

Are you proud of yourself?

This is a great follow-up to the previous question. You have changed. Do you like how you have changed? Are there things you want to course-correct? What is it that you recognize as an improvement?

Find changes and achievements that make you feel proud of yourself. Focus on the things you liked. If you see things that did not change for the better, ask yourself if you want to change them as well and consider why these things happened. However, center the positive. What are the things you like about your new self? What are the best achievements you have?

What are the things that are still on your to-do list?

Another goal of your retrospective is to consider your future goals. What else do you need to do? What else do you want to do? What other goals remain unfulfilled? The objective of this question is not to make you feel bad but to focus on the things you want to accomplish in the future. Which goals will you take with you into the new year?

Others might be left behind in the past, and that’s fine. Not all goals need to be fulfilled. Instead, you can focus on the things that matter, that inspire you, that lead you toward a better life.

Did you pursue your dreams? Or were you running away from them?

Often, we leave the most important things for later. Instead of chasing after our dreams, we avoid them and instead focus on less important matters. This can make us feel guilty, but it’s better to focus instead on why it’s happening and what can we do to change this.

Choose your priority and try to make sure that your dreams are the priority. Give yourself permission to take small steps or leap toward your dream. Don’t get distracted with other things. Do what you need to do and what you want to do. Give yourself the chance to make the next year the one when you pursue your dreams for real.