The end of a year is always a great opportunity for some self-reflection. With 2022 fast approaching, now is a great time to examine what went right this year — and to identify areas of improvement. If you’re hoping to reflect and set a plan for how you want to make changes in your professional or personal life, you can start by asking smart questions about what did and didn’t work.
Apartment Therapy talked to personal development pros about where to begin. Here is a guide on the areas you may want to cover and the questions you’ll want to ask as 2021 comes to a close.
Start by asking how satisfied you are overall.
Kick off your self-reflection with a big-picture assessment of what worked this year. Michelle Ebbin, a personal development coach and entrepreneur, suggests asking yourself the following question:
On a scale of one to 10, how satisfied am I with 2021?
“Asking yourself this question could provide an overall look into how well you spent the year and identify the particular situations that affected you deeply,” Ebbin tells Apartment Therapy. “Let’s say you give yourself a four out of 10. Ask yourself why to explore the possible reasons behind your assessment. Is it because you fell short on efforts to carry out your goals? Were there opportunities you declined or bad decisions you made?”
After evaluating the overall picture, you can then ask more focused questions that relate to different parts of your life. Clinical psychologist Michael Mazius, PhD, recommends asking the following questions:
“These are good questions for all of us to consider at the end of the year and throughout the year as well. Maybe more importantly, if the answer to one or more of these questions generates dismay or disappointment, rather than being hard on ourselves, it’s important that we think about where we went wrong and how to be better to ourselves in the year ahead,” Mazius says.
Finally, observe how you feel as you ask yourself these questions.
As you reflect back on your year, there is a possibility some uncomfortable feelings may arise. “Having to review one’s self and think about ways in which one can improve can produce anxiety. Notice your mind — if you’re anxious, there are concrete steps one can take for producing motivation to engage,” Mazius says.
First, always breathe deeply. “This practice activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces calm in most humans. Take a breath, take two, take three, and watch what happens,” Mazius says. “Next, don’t be surprised if your mind gives you reasons to avoid the task. We like to feel safe and in control. This exercise might produce the opposite reaction. Even though you may want to run, don’t. Think about the importance of evaluating one’s values and goals. Take advantage of the opportunity you have to move forward.”
Finally, remember to treat yourself with patience and grace as you move into 2022. “The key is to be kind to oneself as one strives for self-improvement,” Mazius says.