Can you believe that the end of the year is practically here? It seems like just yesterday we were ushering in 2023, and now here we are about to welcome 2024. Perhaps my favorite thing about the end of the year is that it brings with it an air of self-reflection. It’s the perfect time to review how this past year has gone, release what doesn’t serve me anymore, and set intentions for the year to come. I always utilize the week leading up to the new year as a period of reflection and growth, and I encourage you to do the same if you’re feeling up to it.
To do this, I set aside about 20 to 30 minutes a day throughout the final week of the year (or month if I can manage it), and ask myself the following questions:
What did I accomplish this year? What am I most proud of?
What happened this year that I’m not happy about?
Did I form any habits that I’m unhappy with?
Did I form any habits that I’d like to continue?
What am I the most grateful for this year?
What would I change about this year if I could?
It’s the perfect time to review how this past year has gone, release what doesn’t serve me anymore, and set intentions for the year to come.
It’s important, while asking yourself these questions, to note both the good things that happened and the bad. Understand what you are happy with in your life and the positive new patterns you established over the course of the year, while also recognizing any bad patterns you may have picked up that you want to release. It’s important to acknowledge the negatives so you can release them and move forward. Now, hold on to those happy patterns that you’re proud of, as we’ll revisit them in a future post about setting your intentions for the new year. But for now, let’s talk about rejuvenating your mind and spirit prior to the new year by leaving undesirable patterns and thoughts behind.
In your self-reflection, try to scan the entire year month by month, remembering what you did at the time, and what stands out along the way. If you experienced a significantly bad period, or something bad happened to you, don’t just dismiss it. It may hurt to revisit it, but processing and releasing it frees you to move forward. Live in that challenging period for just a second and ask yourself what it taught you. Did it help you grow? Did it make you feel stuck? Are you out of it now? Find one small grain of positivity in the experience (if you can) and ask yourself how you grew from that moment—even if all you can surmise is that it made you just a bit stronger in the end. As you feel into that period of time once again, breathe into it, acknowledge the hurt one last time, then slowly and methodically exhale, releasing it out of your system and into the ether, where it can no longer trouble you. Then try focusing on things that make you happy and grateful, soaking in each and every thought that makes you smile, so you can fill that space with gratitude and happiness.
Now, what if you’ve noticed that you’ve picked up a bad habit? It can be as minor as biting your nails or something potentially more problematic, such as gambling. These are very generic ideas, but they will help you get the point. If you’ve noticed a bad habit gaining ground, the first thing to do to release it is to acknowledge it. Then, as you meditate throughout the final weeks of this year and into the next, make it an active goal to break the unwanted pattern by recognizing that it does not serve you. As you meditate daily, put aside a period of time to envision yourself engaged in that habit you’re trying to break. As you focus on it, see how detrimental it is and why it doesn’t serve you. Next, envision how much better your life would be without it and the new experiences you would have without it occupying your energy and attention. After visualizing a better future without it each day, as you finish this part of your meditation, simply breathe in one final time and say, “I am releasing this unwanted pattern,” then exhale it out of your life decisively, never to be let back in.
In your self-reflection, try to scan the entire year month by month, remembering what you did at the time, and what stands out along the way.
The more you actively focus on releasing the negativity, bad habits, and other things you don’t want in your life, the easier it is to recognize them if they resurface in the future, at which point you can simply choose to brush them aside. Habitual patterns are seldom easy to be rid of, but when you can see the benefits of being free of them, it makes the effort worthwhile.
This end-of-year period of reflection provides an effective scan and check-in with yourself to ensure that you’re happy with who you are and how your life is going. And if you’re not, it can help set you on a better path. It’s intended to help you celebrate the things you love about yourself, release the things you don’t, and thereby rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul so you can enter the new year happier, healthier, and in a more open state. It can help you become excited to embrace the freshness of the new year. I wish you the best of luck, and a very happy and rewarding new year!