Empower Your New Year: Expert Reflection Routines from 3 Coaches and a Therapist (PDF Worksheets)

By Maggie Glennon, M.Ed ,Cynthia Garrett, LMHC ,Madeline Farquharson, CPCC

This is a collaborative post by with guests Matthew Fuller and Henry Scott-Jones.

Happy almost New Year! Are you exhausted? Personally, I feel like I’ve been telling myself it’s a marathon and not a sprint but sprinting all the way. And then we hit this week between Christmas and New Year’s where the world is confusing. It’s almost as though it exists just outside of reality. Fewer people are asking for things. More people have time for meaningful interactions. And, if I play my cards right, there’s more space for me.

That space is what I like to fill with learnings, curiosity and moments of reflection. So I asked some of our excellent coaches and collaborators here at Knomii to share their favorite end-of-year reflection protocols. Why? Because one-size-never-fits-all. So this is a list to pick and choose what works for you.

As always, follow your curiosity and try things on. I encourage you to ditch what isn’t resonating and pick-and-mix to your heart’s delight.

May this new year be what you long for it to be. Be well.

Explore Your Low-Lows and High-Highs with Matthew

There is something about the end of the year that makes reflection more natural. Let's take this opportunity to reflect on the highs and lows of 2023. In the following exercise you'll be asked to think about the hardest moment of your year. This comes with the caveat that this should be something that is safely accessible. This might not be suitable for something that is unresolved or being processed within a therapeutic space.

What is your lowest low?

Think about that low point of this year. This will likely bring up some difficult emotions, this is all information we can use. As noted above, this should feel safe, not easy, but safe.

What lesson did the worst moment of the year teach you?

  • About your needs?
  • About your values?
  • About your baggage?
  • About what healing you need to do?
  • About how you want to deal with difficult moments in 2024?

Once you've finished this reflection, take a moment to thank your emotions for helping you to gain insights on yourself and where you want things to go. Take deep, relaxed, soothing breaths. Let those emotions slowly leave you and when you're ready, let's focus on that amazing moment.

What is your highest high?

What did the best moment of your year teach you?

  • About your wants?
  • About your values?
  • About what brings you joy?
  • About where you want to send more energy in 2024?

Once you've finished this reflection, take a moment to thank your emotions for helping you to gain insights on yourself and where you want things to go.

We can't always control the circumstances of our lives but we have so much more influence than we might think.

Let these highs and lows act as information about how you might influence your life in 2024. This isn't about mindless pleasure seeking and pain avoidance but rather an act of self-love, a conscious act of design within our realms of control and influence.

This stuff is not easy but I know you can do it.

P.S. You can join Matthew for his workshop in the New Year!

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Explore Some Fun Reflection Prompts with Maggie

If you didn’t have a chance to join me 2023 Wrapped workshop, it’s no big deal because the prompts are right here in a joyously designed PDF.

We’re talking tiny Christmas sweaters, and all sorts of goodies to make your annual reflection fun. One of the things that I share a lot is that writing, reflecting and journaling don’t have to be a heavy lift. In fact, some of the most powerful questions are the shortest ones.

Pen and paper ready? Click below to download my writing prompts.

Wind Down with 10 Strategies from Cynthia, LMHC

As the year comes to an end, the start of a new year is a great time for self-reflection. You can review what went well, identify how you can make improvements, and discover ways you can achieve your fullest potential in the upcoming year.

Here are tips to help you reflect on the past year and start the new year with positivity and motivation.

1. Use Journaling to Reflect on the Year

Writing is therapeutic because it helps you:

  • understand yourself
  • release emotions
  • organize your thoughts
  • prioritize problems
  • set and achieve goals
  • record ideas on-the-go
  • relieve stress
  • self-reflect
  • enhance your memory
  • build creativity

Here are some questions you can answer in a journal or notebook.

  • What are you proud of in the past year?
  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What lessons can you learn from what didn’t go as planned?
  • What was the overarching lesson in the last year?
  • Where do you want to go from here? Set some intentions using this question –

Try to be as specific as possible!

Tip: Review your camera roll or social media posts to help you answer these questions. You will be reminded of the wonderful times that perhaps you forgot.

2. Go forth with gratitude

Research has robustly demonstrated that nurturing an attitude of gratitude is a cornerstone for positive mental health. The practice of gratitude is much like a muscle; the more you exercise it, the stronger and more reflexive it becomes.

To cultivate this habit, consider creating a comprehensive list of all the elements in your life that spark gratitude. This list could range from significant milestones to the simplest pleasures like the warmth of a sunny day or the comfort of your favorite sweater. By documenting these appreciations, you're essentially crafting a personalized catalogue of happiness, a go-to repository for moments when you need a reminder of life's blessings.

For an added dimension, think about converting this list into an audio format. Imagine taking a tranquil walk, earphones in, listening to the soothing cadence of your own voice recounting each thing you're grateful for. This auditory reinforcement can be a powerful tool, turning your gratitude practice into a vivid and personal experience. It's a way to not just think about gratitude, but to feel and hear it, making it an even more integral part of your daily life and mindset.

3. Create an accomplishments list.

Creating an accomplishments list is like crafting a personal treasure map, where each achievement is a bright, shining landmark. This list serves as a powerful tool, especially during moments of doubt or frustration.

Imagine it's a cold, rainy day in your mind; your spirits are dampened, and your motivation is as elusive as a sunbeam behind the clouds. That's when your accomplishments list becomes your personal ray of sunshine. By revisiting your past successes, you're not just reminiscing; you're actively reminding yourself of your capabilities and resilience.

This list is a tangible proof of your journey and growth. It's like having a conversation with a more optimistic version of yourself, offering you a different perspective – one that your present, perhaps more critical self, might be overlooking. Think of this list as a bridge between your past achievements and future aspirations, a reminder that past success is a reliable predictor of future triumphs.

4. Acknowledge and release the bad.

In the journey of self-growth, acknowledging the not-so-great experiences is as crucial as celebrating the victories. It's like taking out the trash; if you don't, it accumulates and stinks up the whole house.

By acknowledging the disappointments and setbacks, you're not dwelling on them; instead, you're giving yourself permission to process these experiences and then let them go. This process is like autumn leaves falling from a tree - they served their purpose, and now it's time to shed them to make room for new growth.

Recognizing the negative is not about fixating on it but about understanding and learning from it. It's about looking at these experiences squarely in the eye and saying, "You happened, you hurt, but you do not define me." This step is vital for maintaining emotional and mental balance. It's about finding peace with the imperfect journey you've had, understanding that every stumble was a part of learning how to walk more confidently towards your future.

5. Meditate.

Once you complete the above four steps, clear your mind to make room for the new. Find a peaceful spot to sit and close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Practice inhaling for the count of four and exhaling for the count of four. If your thoughts wander, bring them back to your breath. You might want to make this a daily practice in the new year.

6. Gift yourself.

In the journey of self-improvement and personal growth, it's essential to pause and celebrate yourself, to become your own cheerleader and supporter. Consider this: if a friend achieved something significant, you'd likely encourage them to treat themselves, to savor the moment of triumph. Why not extend the same kindness to yourself? Gifting yourself is not just about indulgence; it's a vital act of self-love and recognition.

Celebrating your achievements, big or small, reinforces the positive behaviors and efforts that led to those successes. It's a way of telling yourself, "Yes, what I do matters. My efforts are worth acknowledging." This practice of self-celebration nurtures a healthy relationship with yourself. It's about acknowledging your worth and giving yourself permission to enjoy your successes. By regularly gifting yourself, you're not just rewarding past achievements; you're also fueling your motivation for future endeavors. It's a cycle of positive reinforcement that builds a stronger, more resilient, and more joyful you.

7. Set some intentions.

Setting intentions is like charting a course for a meaningful journey, where the path itself is as significant as the destination. Unlike traditional goals, which can sometimes feel like distant, rigid milestones or just another box to check off, intentions are deeply rooted in the essence of who you aspire to be. They are less about the endpoint and more about the process, the daily practices and mindset that guide you towards your vision.

Think of intentions as the compass that aligns your actions with your inner values and desires. They are a conscious and purposeful way to mold your day-to-day life in the shape of the person you wish to become. By setting intentions, you are not just planning; you are actively transforming your present self to resonate with your future self. This approach fosters a sense of mindfulness and presence, as it encourages you to live each moment in a manner that is congruent with your deepest aspirations.

For instance, instead of setting a goal to “be more successful”, an intention could be to “embrace opportunities for growth and learning every day”. This shift in perspective makes your aspirations more accessible and integrated into your daily life. It's about creating a living, breathing blueprint for your life, one that is flexible and evolves with you. Setting intentions is a powerful way to focus your energy not just on what you want to achieve, but on who you want to become in the process.

8. Make a plan.

The act of making a plan is more than just a logistical exercise; it's a commitment to turning your intentions into reality. This involves breaking down the grand vision of your intentions into manageable, actionable steps, much like plotting a course on a map. Each small step is a crucial part of the larger journey, ensuring you're always moving in the right direction.

Begin by scheduling these steps into your calendar, as if setting appointments with your future self. This act of scheduling transforms abstract intentions into tangible tasks. It's like planting seeds in a garden; each small task is a seed that, when nurtured, grows into the reality of your intentions.

By focusing on small, incremental steps, you're able to maintain momentum, celebrate small victories, and gradually build towards the larger picture of your intentions. It's about embracing the journey, one step at a time, knowing that each step is a vital part of your path to fulfillment.

9. Choose 3 words for the New Year.

Selecting three words for the New Year is a powerful way to set your intentions and guide your actions. These words should be deeply meaningful to you, serving as beacons that light your path throughout the year. Each word encapsulates the qualities, aspirations, and mindset you wish to embrace. Think of them as personal mantras, shaping your decisions and coloring your experiences. Carry these words with you, letting them influence your interactions and guide your journey.

Word Suggestions:

  • Optimistic: Embracing a positive outlook
  • Joyful: Finding happiness in small moments
  • Ambitious: Pursuing goals with determination
  • Creative: Exploring new ideas and self-expression
  • Expansive: Broadening horizons and experiences
  • Confident: Trusting in your abilities and decisions
  • Healthy: Focusing on physical and mental well-being
  • Happy: Seeking joy in everyday life
  • Adventurous: Embracing new experiences with an open heart

10. Choose 3 traits you want to embody in the New Year.

Selecting three traits to embody in the New Year is a strategic step towards aligning your character with the three words you've chosen. This exercise is about identifying the core characteristics that will enable you to live out your chosen words in a meaningful way. By focusing on specific traits, you create a clear roadmap for personal development and behavior. Think of these traits as the foundation upon which your chosen words will flourish.

Trait Suggestions:

  • Resilience: Bouncing back from challenges
  • Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others
  • Determination: Pursuing goals with unwavering commitment
  • Creativity: Thinking outside the box and innovating
  • Open-mindedness: Being receptive to new ideas and experiences
  • Self-confidence: Believing in your own abilities and worth
  • Discipline: Staying focused and committed to your goals
  • Positivity: Maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude
  • Courage: Facing challenges with bravery and confidence

By identifying and committing to these traits, you create a blueprint for personal growth. They serve as guiding principles, helping you to embody the essence of your chosen words and to navigate the New Year with purpose and intention.

Reflect in 3 Lists with Henry

As the year draws to a close, we have an opportunity to engage in a thoughtful process of reflection, examining the milestones, challenges, and personal growth experienced over the past twelve months. This end-of-year introspection serves as a valuable tool for self-awareness and improvement. It allows us to take stock of our achievements, acknowledging accomplishments both big and small, while also contemplating areas where we may have fallen short of our goals. This reflective journey provides an opportunity to celebrate successes, learn from failures, and set the stage for a more intentional and fulfilling path ahead.

Moreover, the end-of-year reflection process extends beyond personal achievements to encompass relationships, career trajectories, and overall well-being. It prompts us to assess the quality of our connections with others, identifying sources of support and areas for strengthening bonds. Professionally, we may choose to evaluate our career trajectory, assessing whether we are aligned with our aspirations and if adjustments are necessary. Ultimately, this period of reflection serves as a compass for the future, guiding us towards informed decisions, meaningful pursuits, and a renewed sense of purpose in the coming year.

Close the year with 3 lists: Accomplishments, Challenges, Learnings

Longhand is the medium I’d recommend most for this exercise - there’s just something about pen on paper that really feeds our minds.

Mark 3 columns for 3 lists or use 3 different pages:

  1. Accomplishments - jot down significant achievements
  2. Challenges - document the obstacles you’ve faced
  3. Learnings - explore the lessons learned from both 1 & 2

Be honest and specific - no one is reading over your shoulder!

Why not join us for an event in the New Year?

Learn and grow at a Knomii group workshop or coaching session. We'd love to see you there!

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