I’m a reflective person. This time of year, when we start to see all the “best of” reflections online and in the news, I like to do my own personal reflection. How was the year? What can we learn from it? How can I do better next year?
I think it’s a great exercise.
Perhaps you need a little help getting started. Take a couple hours over the next week or so—get alone—and reflect.
Here are five questions to get you started:
What was great?
List some of the highlights of your year. What gave you the most pleasure in life? Make sure they merit repeating—sin can have an immediate pleasure—but plan ways to rekindle those emotions in the new year. Most likely they involve relationships. The new year is a great time to plan some intentional efforts to strengthen relationships—spend more time with family and friends. Maybe you enjoyed the times you spent writing. Take some intentional steps to discipline yourself to do that more. Remember how good it felt that day you served people less fortunate than yourself? Well, now you know something you need to do more of in the new year.
What wasn’t great?
Think of some things that are draining to you personally. Again, it may be some relationship in your life. It could be a job or a physical ailment. It could also be that whatever it is that isn’t great has been around for more than a single year. But, chances are you’ve never taken the hard steps to do something about it. Sometimes recognizing those things is the first step to doing something about them. (Your answer may be that a relationship has ended—and there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe this is your year to move forward again—even in spite of the pain.) Could this be the year?
What can be improved?
Sometimes it isn’t about quitting but working to make something better that makes all the difference. Intentionality can sometimes take something you dread and make it something you enjoy. I’ve seen couples who appeared destined for divorce court turn into a thriving marriage when two willing spouses commit to working harder (and getting outside help if needed). I was out of shape in my mid-30s. I’m healthier today in my 50s than I was then. The change began in one year—one decision—one intentional effort. Conventional wisdom says a new habit begins in 21 days, but some now believe it may take as long as 66 days to really get a habit to stick. But, would it be worth it if you really began a daily Bible reading habit? Or the gym really was a part of your life more than just the first couple weeks in January? Maybe this is your year to get serious about improving some area of your life.
What do I need to stop?
Maybe you need to stop caring so much what other people think. Maybe you need to stop overeating. Maybe you need to stop worrying far more than you pray. Maybe you need to stop believing the lies the enemy tries to place in your mind. Maybe you need to stop living someone else’s life—and start living the life God has called you to. Maybe you need to stop delaying the risk—and go for it! Maybe you need to stop procrastinating. Do you get the idea? Sometimes one good stop can make all the difference. What do you need to stop doing this year, so you can reflect on this year as your best year ever? Start stopping today!
What do I need to start?
Think of something you know you need to do, but so far you’ve only thought about it. Maybe you started before but never committed long enough to see it become reality. Often, in my experience, we quit just before the turn comes that would have seen us to victory. Is this the year you write the book? Is this the year you pursue the dream? Is this the year you mend the broken relationship? Is this the year you finish the degree? Is this the year you get serious about your financial well-being—planning for the future? Is this the year you surrender your will to God’s will—and follow through on what you know He’s been asking you to do? Maybe getting active in church is your needed start this year. Start starting today!
Five questions. When I’m answering questions like this, I like to apply them to each area of my life—spiritual, physical, relational, personal, financial, etc. Reflect on your life with God, with others and with yourself. This can be a powerful exercise.
Try answering some of these questions and see how they help you start your best year ever!
This article originally appeared here.