I’m still soaking in the last of my post-Christmas, pre-NYE break here at the cabin on the Sunshine Coast—we come every year after Christmas and I always immediately crash, not only because I’ve got that post-Christmas exhaustion, but because November through to December are typically always my busiest months of the year! This year that trend rang true more than ever before and this has been my first chance to reflect on everything in a really long time now and to start planning for 2018—it’s been so special to have this time off and I’m so excited to share my 8-step process to both look back and look forward so that I can properly take stock of my last year, reflect properly on it all and make goals that really resonate with my most heartfelt visions for the following year! At the bottom of this post, you can sign up to get my little 8-step checklist PDF emailed to you but if you want to get it right away now as you scroll through this post (complete with 1 snap for every month of 2017, starting with January!) then you can sign up here! And now without further ado…
1. Remember all the good
I think it’s important to start with the positive! I actually spend a ton of time on this part and it’s just a total stream of consciousness thing where I jot down every last thing from the year that was positive, meaningful and valuable to me, whether it’s something big (like making an amazing career change!) or something smaller (like curbing your Facebook scrolling addiction). Really remember to detail each and every thing—this part is really important because it can be so easy to be hard on yourself if you had a challenging year!
2. Give thanks for 5 things
Out of all of those moments, pull either 5 themes or 5 moments that you feel truly grateful for. For instance, a couple of mine out of the many, many good things I remembered from 2017 were growing my team this year and evolving my business, as well as having developed a more happy, beautiful sanctuary here in Vancouver that I get to come home to. More general, but 5 things that you feel truly grateful for at a deeper level—let yourself really feel that gratitude and give thanks to the universe, yourself or whatever/whoever you pray to!
3. Remember the…not so good
Try to remember this part isn’t about being a drag and about being negative! It’s simply a way of taking stock of the whole year and taking into account the inevitable slip-ups, misperceptions, etc. Try to be compassionate towards yourself while also remembering moments that you would obviously not like to take into the next year for you. At the same time, don’t skip this part because it might feel a bit uncomfortable—this isn’t about hating on yourself but more about just knowing what you want to improve on! As a sign of goodwill, I’ll share two of mine—one is that I’m a total hypochondriac and get really carried away with every single physical symptom, and this year (especially towards the end, when stress naturally builds!) I think my loved ones were ready to kill me with my near-daily evolving self-diagnoses. Another thing I struggled with this year was keeping our place clean—Matt and I have a years-long power struggle over our space but letting messes build adds a ton to my stress and we’re really bad about waiting till our lovely cleaning lady Jina comes in about once a month. It honestly was one of the first things I jotted down because as trivial as it seems, it really adds to my stress and anxiety!
4. What are your 5 lessons…
After taking stock of the good and most importantly, where you may have blundered a bit, what are 5 key lessons you learned from all of this? What would you have liked to have told yourself at the beginning of this year without knowing what lay ahead?
5. …and what are your 5 solutions?
Now, these aren’t necessarily your goals (but they could be carried on later in this exercise as goals!) but quickly do a brainstorm and determine what 5 solutions or action plans you can come up with to the 5 hard lessons you learned! This part’s key for me because it starts to really prime my mind for the next part which is…
6. One year from now…
I literally date it a year from when I’m doing the exercise (so in today’s case, December 29, 2018) and speaking in the present tense, reflect on a truly remarkable year. In this year-later scenario, I’ve accomplished so many meaningful things, I feel amazing…I had my best year yet. Working backwards, I detail everything in a total stream of consciousness, flow state, letting it come naturally to me (and don’t worry if it doesn’t at first, just start writing!). I find it helps to start with the more superficial details, like where I am, what I’m looking at, who I’m with, how I feel, etc—the rest of the plan and dream comes naturally after that. Write until you’ve literally got nothing left to write! I know some people prefer to write with pen and paper but particularly with this part, just going full-tilt in a blank Word doc is key for me.
7. Now, jot down your goals!
The part most people usually start with! For me, it’s key to do this towards the end so that I’m truly in touch with what will be meaningful and important to me given the year I had and where I want to go. There’s no magic to doing this here since you probably at this point have a good idea of what you want to accomplish, but for me it helps to break it down into 4 categories and do about 4-5 goals for each: Health & Wellness, Career & Community, Relationships & Love, Personal Growth (a catch all for money, mindfulness, etc). I like to revise mine maybe once or twice more but once they’re good to go, I like to make sure they’re visible to me because after all this work reflecting and strategizing on how you want to grow, it can be surprisingly easy to forget about your goals unless you see them! Print them out and tape them somewhere, frame them, write them down at the front of your planner, put them in a note in your iPhone and glance at it every day, etc.
8. Pick your word(s) for the year.
Mine this year: abundance, vitality, hope. It might seem a bit woo-woo but I find it really helps me have a focus for the year and helps drive me forward (almost like a mantra) when things inevitably hit a sticky or tough point. You can do one or more! For me, three has always been my magic number.
As promised, you can sign up below to get this little checklist sent straight to you so that you can use it to reflect on 2017 and brainstorm on 2018!
Finally, I want to say from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am to all of you for being part of this community, whether you’re a longtime reader or on the blog for the first time today! I can’t even begin to understand how I’m lucky enough to be doing this for a living, not to mention that I get to do something I love so much and get to also know so many of you over the years! I just want you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you and am sending you a ton of love going into 2018. I know 2017 wasn’t the best year for everyone but I know that 2018 will be a special year and can’t wait to see and hear everything you have planned for it! Happy New Year’s and I’ll see you on the other side in 2018, when I’m so excited to launch a quick little month-long series that I’m so excited for! All my love to all of you!