For the last 5 years I’ve been doing structured year end reflections where I review how the previous 12 months went – what worked, what didn’t, what was fulfilling, what wasn’t. Here, an original framework I laid out and republish each year. I like the solitude renting an AirBnB provides, but this can be done on a quiet morning between Christmas and New Years just as well.
By Andrew Snavely
When was the last time you set aside time to think? And not like choosing to daydream instead of looking at your phone while waiting at the dentist’s office – but actually planned a solid chunk of time to intentionally think?
This was the question I presented 2 years ago when I first discussed my end of year reflection and goal-setting process in my post 18 Questions I’m Going to Ask Myself About The Last Year.
Up until a couple of years ago, my answer to that question was “I never set aside time to think.” And the reality is, that’s the case for most of us.
Which is crazy when you realize the side effect of that is that we’re all just kind of bouncing around, doing some life thinking in between the obligations and stresses of everyday life. Eventually thinking, “I need to eat better–like wtf,” enough times in micro-doses that hopefully we do something about it.
But what happens when life gets more stressful? And we accumulate more responsibility? And others depend on us for care. And the economy gets rough. And health problems come up. And. And. And.
What happens is that micro-dose thinking gets fewer and farther between, and goes from good ideas to guilt about all the things that have piled up.
So I’ve found an incredibly freeing and inspiring way to combat this is to…plan some time to think.
I rent a cheap AirBnB, preferably one relatively isolated from people, and head out with just my dog Leela for a few days. While my “workcations” started as a quarterly exercise and usually also involve some type of project I’m trying to get work done on, my end of year retreats are a couple days longer and focus completely on deep dives into what I did and didn’t do over the last year, and slowly peeling away at my thoughts to try and get an honest assessment of the path I’m on.
If I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, I make new short term goals for the new year and celebrate the wins.
If I realize I’m feeling lost, I take a hard look at where I’ve become stagnant and start outlining possible shakeups. It’s these times that have really disrupted the homeostasis in my life – when I become aware of where I’ve become too comfortable. Or put a less polite way, when I’ve sunk into some life quicksand.
» Read some of the outcomes of a previous year-end reflection.