Reflect, Recharge, Refocus: End the Year on a High
The New Year is approaching and it’s a time to focus on betterment and progress. This year may have been challenging but it’s also has been a year of resilience in how we’ve actively progressed forward in life—physically, personally, professionally, emotionally and socially.
The end of the year is a time to reflect on the previous year. It’s a time to take an inventory of your personal response to life, what life presented to you and how you reacted to it. Try looking through photos and reviewing memories or spend an hour or two by yourself with a pen and paper to write down your reflections on the year.
Ask yourself some important questions. What were the harder experiences this year for you? What were healthy ways in which you responded to those difficulties? Were there responses that were not as helpful or healthy? This helps you honour the hard times and notice the ways in which you rose to the occasion and were resilient.
This process, if we just remember to do it, also can create space for noticing actions and responses that either didn’t serve you in coping or in progressing in life.
What are things that you accomplished this year? This is not a specific question about productivity or accomplishments in a material or professional sense (though it may be for you). This can include accomplishments such as finding time to meditate in the morning and making it an ongoing practice. Perhaps you worked on building a relationship with someone new in your life. It even could be something like planning and tending to your garden, cooking more healthfully on a regular basis or learning a new skill or knowledge set.
Maybe you did get recognised at work for a job well done or even got a promotion or a raise. Perhaps you reached a health goal like losing weight or decreasing your blood pressure. These all are wonderful accomplishments. List them during your time of reflection.
Take it a step further and challenge yourself to go deeper in that reflection. Notice what were the feelings, actions and thoughts involved in those accomplishments. Reflect on how it was actually also hard!
The point is that reflecting on accomplishments isn’t simply about finding the glee in the happy ending. It also should provoke thoughts of difficulty, strife, perseverance and resilience. Celebrate all of those steps in success.
Another step in reflection is looking at how you changed over the past year and what you learned about yourself.
Perhaps the pandemic forced you into more solitude, and from that you learned you need more alone time. Alternatively, maybe you deeply missed friends and family you were not able to visit. What did this time teach you about who you are?
Now look at the present day—the time of transition from this year to the next. It is time to recharge. Recharging is ultimately recognising your needs and responding to them. It is the essence of self-care. What do you need to continue to propel you forward? Do not yet focus on what’s ahead, but instead think of what your body and soul need to feel energised and whole in the present.
Recharging doesn’t simply mean massages and spa days. It sometimes actually takes work—doing things we may not even want to do. Attend to your medical and health needs with your health care providers. Declutter your home, review and organise (and throw away) paperwork, get caught up on small domestic duties such as reorganising your kitchen or cleaning out your garage.
Try the more enjoyable self-care activities such as going to bed early and sleeping in late. Go ahead and get a massage or have a spa day at home. Spend a week when every night you tune out screens and make the evening hours slow and calm. Take an aromatherapy-infused bath. Alternatively, spend a week binge-watching a show you’ve been wanting to watch.
Now it’s time to refocus. Refocusing becomes a clearer path after deep reflection and enjoyable self-care (recharging). Refocusing means prioritising what you absolutely must do and carefully selecting what you want to do in the remaining time. Is there something from last year (or previous years) that you wanted to accomplish, try or explore that you weren’t able to get to? Is that still something you want to do?
Focus on what brings you joy and energy and figure out ways to incorporate that in your life more. If you want more free time, start taking an inventory of what drains you that is not need to your financial or personal wellbeing. Perhaps you want a greater sense of peace and harmony— refocus your free time on activities that bring you that, such as weekly nature walks, daily yoga, time with a special friend every month or even simple quiet time in your backyard by yourself.