Personal Growth, Productivity

A Year End Review That Will Make You Thrilled For the Future Reflect on the Past and Usher in the New Year

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year end reflection questions
Photo by Steven Isaacson

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. For me, setting goals is a constant, not a once-a-year occasion. Plus, as we know, most people don’t stick to their resolutions. They lose interest once the novelty wears off. That’s why I focus more on making consistent progress than dramatic changes. However, answering year end reflection questions provides a powerful opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one.

I have a tendency to charge forward on new goals and often don’t take the time to reflect on the past. Performing this review, then, will give me a chance to learn from both my successes and my mistakes. Also, it will force me to sort through the mess that is my Notes files (yes, I’m a Notes junkie), Google Docs, and mind maps, unearthing all the goals/lessons that I’ve written over the past year. In doing so, I’ll invite you to review your goals for 2018, honestly assess where you’re at, and use this information to refine your goals or create new ones.

Year End Reflection Questions 

Do you feel like each new year is the same old same old? Answering year end reflection questions provides a powerful opportunity to learn from the past and plan for the future. Discover how to review past goals, honestly assess your progress, and use this information to design an awesome new year. | yearly goals | yearly review | yearly review questions | annual review | new years resolution | new years goals 2019 | reflecting on the past year | reflecting on 2019 | life lessons | learning from the past |

What Were Your Biggest Accomplishments?

Taking pride in your accomplishments helps to keep the positive momentum going. It also serves as a positive reminder of all you’re capable of on those days when you’re feeling discouraged.

Here’s what I’m happy about in 2018:

  • Started this blog and (for the most part) have consistently posted once a week
  • Finished applying all my editor’s suggestions to my novel manuscript
  • Obtained a regular copywriting gig for The Great Courses. This is ideal because I get to write AND learn about cool subjects like religion and architecture…essentially like being a student!
  • Landed a writing gig for Kris Dillard who has long been a huge source of inspiration for me. I’d highly recommend that you check out his YouTube channel The Power of Quiet.

Speaking of copywriting — if you need a writer, let’s get in touch! Although personal development and education are my specialties, my boyfriend and I work as a team and he’s highly proficient in all things technical.

How Much Progress Did You Make On Your 2018 Goals/Projects?

In March 29 of 2018, I (apparently) wrote in a mind map that my novel would be published in exactly one year. Now that it’s nearly January, March 29 is looking pretty close…though not impossibly close.

Yes, I finished the edits, but I stalled for months after that.

Here’s where I went wrong. I set the goal, but I did not break it up into steps and set individual deadlines.

Once I got past the familiar part — writing and editing — my plan ended. Marketing is unfamiliar territory for me, so I wasn’t sure how long the steps would take or how to account for factors outside of my control such as turnaround time for a cover designer.

What Needs To Change?

All the same, I could be MUCH more proactive in planning out the process. Plus, missing one of my deadlines is better than having no deadline at all because at least it gives me something to aim toward and adjust if necessary.

With that in mind, I printed out Productive Flourishing’s Individual Project Planner, wrote down all the anticipated steps, set two deadlines for the rest of January, and put it on the wall next to my workspace.

Now this manuscript is once again a priority for me and for my boyfriend, who is helping with refining and marketing the book. He brings it up every day, which in turn get me excited about it. It’s crazy to think that I was just letting it lie dormant when I was so close to the finish line!

What Habits Are Holding You Back?

internet addiction
Photo by Federico Morando

Often, though, what’s standing between you and your goals is not just one thing but a series of behaviors or habits. These can be trickier to unlock because they’re so deeply ingrained in us.

However, I had a breakthrough when reading Sandra Pawula’s enlightening questions in How to Capture Your Most Important 2018 Life Lessons, which included, “What distracts me?”

Email and Quora used to be the top culprits. Thankfully, my inbox no longer holds the same allure. Now I typically check it no more than twice a day, if that. I still occasionally find myself getting roped in by a Quora headline in my inbox, but I’ve trained myself to only read that entry (ok, maybe one or two more), click out of the window, and then delete the email so I’m not tempted to keep scrolling down.

But of course, new distractions pop up to take their place. The trickiest are “grey area distractions.” Mine are:

  • Pinterest
  • Facebook social share threads

Don’t get me wrong, both of these tools have been absolutely essential for my growth. In fact, they’re probably the only reason I get visitors at all because it certainly hasn’t been my SEO skills. Not to mention that these have both been an invaluable source of inspiration and networking. In fact, building communities with amazing writers is the MOST rewarding part of blogging for me by far.

But there’s days (especially in the beginning) where hours go by and it’s unclear whether I’m actually benefiting my business. Is this just a fun distraction from the harder work of creating content?

Honestly, though, I LOVE writing and editing new posts. I don’t think it’s procrastination. I think it’s a case of FOMO.

So now, while I still participate in several incredible groups on a regular basis, I’m more intentional about how much time I spend, setting timers and reminding myself that I don’t have to engage with every single post. Nor do I have to read every word of every article I share on Pinterest. I can’t let FOMO overpower my obligation to myself and my readers.

What Goals Would You Modify? Any New Goals?

I’ll tell you mine — partly for accountability, but also so I won’t have to rifle through a bunch of random files next year!

I think you already know what one of mine is — to publish my novel! I’ve already brought another goal of mine to fruition, which is to launch a natural health blog. Right now the site is in its rudimentary stage, but I’ll let you know when it’s ready to view. I plan to post once a week along with Generate Magic. Crazy, I know, but I’m confident I can make it work!

It’s also important to set personal (non-business) goals. Here are mine:

  • Spend more quality time with my boyfriend (tennis, watching movies, etc.)
  • Reconnect with friends
  • Continue to get in touch with myself through meditation and journaling

Did You Keep Things in Perspective?

year end review
Photo by Angi English (not sure how relevant it is but it’s really cute)

What’s wonderful about goals is that they give us something to strive for. At the same time, though, don’t cling too tightly to the outcome.

Now, you might say that my goals are focused on actions such as “publishing” and “posting” rather than outcomes such as traffic and monthly income.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think about these things, though. In the back of my mind, I’m still hoping that my efforts will result in increased readership and more revenue.

That’s why I bring up this point. It’s so important to honor those areas of your life not related to your goal. Take time to enjoy small pleasures.

Sometimes I get so attached a goal that I forget to come up for air and everything falls to the wayside. Then when I don’t get my desired outcome, I’m devastated. If I do get it, the happiness is fleeting.

As a teen, I’d be absolutely crushed when I lost a writing competition or a tennis match. Yet when I look back on my big dreams in high school and college, they mean very little to me now.

Goals are valuable tools for growth and self-knowledge. They propel us to carry out our potential and in turn, enrich the lives of others.

Just don’t fixate on the result. I think what works best is a flexible approach. Maybe you didn’t get what you were aiming for, but something even better is waiting just on the horizon.

What Lessons Did You Learn?

As much as I’ve enjoyed working on my goals and setting new ones, I haven’t always been so diligent about my inner work, even though that’s just as — perhaps, more — important. That’s why I love this question, also from Sandra’s article: “Which lessons, insights, perspectives, and new behaviors would you like to carry forward into the new year?”

Here are mine, mostly gained from Derek Rydall’s The Abundance Project and Debbie Ford’s The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse:

  • Whatever you’re not getting is what you’re not giving
  • My ideal self is not something I must grow into but rather inside me waiting to emerge. I need to cultivate the right conditions for emergence by taking action (not waiting for things to be perfect) and remaining strong in the face of distractions
  • I can be intentional about what states of consciousness I wish to inhabit

Now, instead of starting a new year feeling disappointed that I didn’t accomplish what I set out to do, I’m excited for what lies ahead!

Tell me: What are your biggest lessons from 2018? What goals will you revise or carry with you into 2019?

20 thoughts on “A Year End Review That Will Make You Thrilled For the Future Reflect on the Past and Usher in the New Year

  1. I was just telling another YouTube buddy of ours that “focus” was our unofficial word from 2018 and we accomplished many of our goals, because we kept coming back to center when we would get frazzled and spiraled out of control or when we were weary that nothing else would happen. So, I COMPLETELY understand the mindset of knowing what the goal is and then breaking it down into that daily practice and I assure you that by doing this, you will see a massive shift in the amount of things that you are able to accomplish.

    Thanks for constantly being transparent in your creative practice and for sharing your journey.

    1. Thank you, Vox! Yes, focus is SO important. And you put it so beautifully. Having a daily list written out is crucial too because sometimes I think, “Oh, I know what I’m supposed to do today” and then it all falls apart! Just having something to refer to is helpful even if I don’t stick to it.

  2. Isn’t it all terribly serious? Just to go to bed one night and wake up the next morning. It isn’t even an ending and a beginning – it’s a continuation. Still, we humans like to have things in small batches – I think it’s comforting to know that it will all end and we will be able to start again.
    2018 has been a really topsy-turvy year for me – one I’m not sorry to say goodbye to.
    Some things did work out well though:
    I managed to get my third book of children’s bedtime stories finished and published.
    I have begun to admit I need to be more involved in marketing.
    Jackie’s fall and hospitalisation showed me that I can still look after myself if I need to
    The same misfortune showed me how much, truly amazing, love and support I have around me.
    For 2019
    Finish the fourth book!!! – The content for this was produced for NaNoWQriMo of 2017! – What is the hold-up?????
    Try harder to market my books – no I mean it this time!
    Do whatever I have to – to help Jackie when she is released from hospital – and make it fun for us both.
    Write something else – maybe experiment more or maybe just do what I seem to do best – stories for young children – or even both? I’m starting the year with no writing ideas and nothing planned.
    I would also like to have another serious try to journal this year – I’ve never been able to do it and it irritates me that I can’t.

    Thanks for the prompts Kate – I would have probably have not bothered to do even this much – it’s been a great help.

    1. Thank you so much, David, for sharing your reflections, and as always for your thoughtful response. I didn’t know you wrote children’s books! Or that you had written multiple. That is really cool. Do you sell them on Amazon? I hope Jackie is recovering nicely. I’m sure you’re looking forward to having her home. And I feel exactly the same as you about New Year’s…on the one hand, it always feels sort of silly and I never feel any different the next day. But at the same time, it’s a nice opportunity to pause and reflect.

  3. This was a great read. We definitely need to break big goals into smaller, manageable ones. It ensures timely achievement of the said goal. You managed to share a lot of useful tips in here. Thanks!

  4. Kate, let me first say this was one of my favorite blogs to read! I read a lot of blogs…

    My goals for 2019 are to:

    1.) grow my blog. To monthly 25k pageviews.

    I believe I get there by doing these things!
    2.) Do these three things everyday:
    A. Read 1 hour a day
    B. Write 300 words everyday
    C. Do SEO related activity for 1 hour
    D. Promote my blog/business for 2 hours
    E.Post Affiliaate links 10X
    F. Listen to podcast 1 hour a day
    In my reading I heard that successful bloggers are prolific. They write daily, read daily and have routines that grow their business. I read about this app- chains. And I installed it and use it to track my delay task. The object or premise is to sustain this chain for a consecutive string of days.

    Like you I’m not much of a resolution type, so this is more my style! I rise to these types of challenges. Even if I challenge myself.

    Great info and this post was exactly what I needed, it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time! ?

    1. Thanks, Kevin, for your kind words and for sharing your goals! That’s an ambitious goal indeed and reading it made me realize I need to step up my game. Traffic has been particularly elusive for me, but this is an important reminder that there’s always more I can do!

  5. Lovely article!
    2018 for me has been the year of self love and self realization. I started focusing on my health and listening to motivating podcasts, surrounding myself with positive people and overall being a happy person! This year had many struggles but honestly I feel like it was one of my best years for myself mentally. I can’t wait to continue my goals and this idea of self love and positivity in 2019!

    1. Thank you so much, Zara! Yes, surrounding yourself with positivity makes such a big difference. That’s why I love reading inspiring articles/books and then putting it into practice and once you get that momentum going, you really can accomplish anything you set your mind to!

  6. Congrats on finishing your novel! Wishing you all the best with publishing it in the new year. 🙂 I love doing year-end reviews and really enjoyed reading your post. Those 19 questions look really helpful.

    1. Thanks, Nicole! Yes, the questions were really helpful for me, forcing me to pause and reevaluate where I’m at rather than just charging forward and staying stuck in my bad habits.

  7. Hi Kate,
    I feel like we were separated at birth after reading your post!
    Haha, now seriously I also play tennis, I´m also an independent writer (I write suspense with a supernatural twist) and I´m also very much into growing through connecting with myself.
    I guess the greatest thing that happened to me in 2018 was being able to get a more consistent meditation practice. I now meditate every day for at least 20 minutes and I can honestly say that changed me completely.
    I feel calmer, more centered and less prone to anger (I can get irritated really easily) and to be honest even my tennis improved!
    I guess I´m also really proud of starting my blog and also finishing my second novel.
    I have really clear goals for 2019 and even though I have no idea how I´ll reach them I´ll just keep doing what I can for now and trust that the Universe will guide me in the right direction because I believe in magic too!

    1. Hi Carla, I really appreciate your response and that’s so cool to hear! I don’t believe I mentioned this in my post but my novel is a blend of horror and supernatural elements so lots of common ground indeed! Yes, meditation has been really big for me. I like guided meditations and have a few that I turn to regularly including the Power of Quiet. Sometimes I’m too rushed to fit one in or feel like I have too many things on my plate, but it really does make a huge difference when I make it a priority. I look forward to keeping in touch and reading more of your writing!

  8. Great read, Kate!

    For me, the biggest lesson is to go from being busy to be useful.

    I used the badge of busy to feed my ego. I’m not going to that any longer. Instead, I will do the useful work which brings real value to me or my audience.

    Whenever I find myself busy, I will pause and ask myself - Is this useful?

    That’s my #1 takeaway for 2019.

    1. Thanks, Prakhar, for reading and for your comment! That’s a big one for me, too. I used to pride myself on taking on as much work as humanly possible and constantly having my schedule full. While I may have been comfortably paying my bills, I wasn’t really accomplishing my larger goals. It reminds me of when I worked in a restaurant and we’d always try to look as busy as possible so we wouldn’t get sent home when it was slow. Honestly I still struggle with this a bit; I’m afraid if I don’t constantly stay busy, I’ll slide into laziness. Which is, as you said, purely a matter of satisfying the ego. It’s much better to be useful!

  9. To be honest, 2018 was a very challenging year for me. I had to many problems here and there but thankfully, I have cleared everything up and I will be entering 2019 with a fresh mind and a fresh start. One of the biggest lessons I have learnt in 2018 is nobody really cares about you or your life or your happiness. You are responsible for everything that you want to happen and has happened in your life. Since I learnt that, I have decided to make 2019 MY year. I am going to be a little selfish next year lol. I will work on myself, work on my craft, work on my studies, work on my personal life and finally work on my blog. People only care when you’re winning so why not do things for yourself? Let your failures be a motivation for you to do better next time and a lesson as well.

    I really enjoyed this post. I will definitely be coming back for more. Goodluck with 2019. ? cheers!

    1. Thanks so much, Rumaisa, for reading and sharing your perspective! And what you say is so true. I used to get upset about this and feel sorry for myself, but as soon as I discovered, like you, that I am in charge of my happiness, it was a very freeing and empowering feeling!

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