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    You enjoy reviewing your year and planning for the next, but you’re tired of the ways you’ve analyzed your years past, like listing out your wins and losses or considering your year on a month-by-month basis. Before you set any resolutions for the new year, you’re hoping to try something new.

    And we’ve got just the thing for you.

    This year, why not pull out a journal or open a new document on your computer and let yourself freely write the answers to some journaling prompts? We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important questions you should ask yourself before the year ends. Answer one. Answer all. Do whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing so that reviewing your year feels fresh and exciting once again.

    Don’t try to compartmentalize or self-edit, and consider both your personal and professional lives while answering. The key to this activity being helpful is simply letting your thoughts flow, without restriction, and then, only when you’re all done, analyzing what it is you wrote.

    1. What energized you this year? What made you feel drained?

    Before you even begin to list out accomplishments and losses, start by journaling about how you felt during the year. Which activities lit you up? Which…didn’t? It’s okay to list both personal and professional moments here. If you want to amplify these energetic feelings and decrease the ones that tired or overwhelmed you in the year ahead, it’s smart to know exactly what influences your energy.

    Follow up questions while reviewing your year:

    • Were there certain people who influenced your energy in either direction?
    • What can you do to preserve your energy before feeling drained? 
    • How can you encourage more energetic moments?

    2. What were some of the most enjoyable moments?

    Write the first thing that comes to mind. This isn’t a record-keeping activity. Give yourself the freedom to write as few or as many moments as your mind can conjure up. Your thoughts may take you back to major celebrations or small measures of joy, and that’s perfectly okay. Remember, it’s easier to replicate the smaller moments if you want more joy in your life.

    Follow up questions while reviewing your year:

    • Who were you with during these memories?
    • Were there any common threads in these moments?
    • Can you do anything now, like scheduling a vacation or enrolling in class, to ensure you’ll have more moments like these next year?

    3. With who, how, and where did you spend your time and energy?

    We’ve talked about the outside circumstances that were most memorable, energizing, or draining, so now let’s shift your focus onto your role. The way you spent your time and where you physically found yourself the most may seem obvious at first, but push further and you’ll find there may be secondary experiences, places, and maybe even people who played large roles in your year.

    Follow up questions while reviewing your year:

    • What moments made you feel driven to distraction?
    • Who did you wish you spent more time with this year?
    • Are you satisfied with the amount of time you had for yourself, or do you give too much of yourself to others?

    4. What did you learn this year?

    You didn’t have to head back to the classroom to grow this year. There are lessons that can be learned from everything that’s happened to you in the past twelve months. First, think about if there were any studious or practical lessons, maybe you did in fact take a class or work with a mentor. Then, consider what content you consumed and how, if at all, it bettered you. Consider the experiences you had to see if any lessons can be found in them, and understand that almost everything holds a lesson if you look close enough.

    Follow up questions while reviewing your year:

    • What did you read, listen to, or watch that taught you something unexpected?
    • Were there certain people who seemed to be advising you, personally or professionally?
    • What would be exciting or interesting for you to learn about in the coming year?

    5. How did you fail this year?

    It might feel strange focusing on your failures, but it’s remarkable what you can learn from moments that didn’t seem to go your way. Things that previously felt like failures or losses pushed you in new directions and those directions may have turned out to be everything you didn’t know you even wanted. Or…well, failures can be failures, and might hurt like heck. Either way, what didn’t work out can tell you a lot about what you want out of life, what direction you should take in the future, or what you may be able to do differently next time?

    Follow up questions while reviewing your year:

    • Can I help anyone else learn this lesson so they don’t end up in the same situation I was in?
    • Did anyone try to give me guidance or advice this year that I didn’t quite understand or take to heart?
    • How much effort did I actually put into situations I failed in? Could I have tried harder? Did I try too hard?

    Reviewing your year doesn’t have to be boring. Take some time to ruminate on all that’s passed and then take a moment to reflect on and analyze what came to mind. The next twelve months are like twelve unwritten chapters, and you’re the narrator. Write wisely.

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