Let’s get started with our Sacred Bow year-end challenge … in this article, we’ll talk about the first part of the challenge, which is to review your year.
If that sounds like a huge amount of work that you want to put off until tomorrow … push past that pattern, because we’re going to do it in small manageable steps.
Here’s what we’re going to do this first week of our year-end challenge:
- Spend 10-15 minutes each day (for four days) reviewing the major events and accomplishments of our past year.
- Next, spend 10-15 minutes (for one day) reviewing your biggest wins and what you learned from them.
- Then spend 10-15 minutes (for one day) reviewing your biggest struggles and what you learned from them.
- Now spend 10-15 minutes (for one day) reviewing you dropped the ball, and how you could grow/change in those areas.
Note that none of this is about feeling shame or guilt, or beating yourself up. It’s about getting clear on how you spent the year and what you did well (and want to learn from that) and where you could grow in the coming year.
This is about learning from the experience of the past year.
If we can learn from it, then no matter how badly (or well) it went, it’s useful. If it went well, it will be even more useful to review what went well and how we can pull the gold nuggets from that.
This week will be tremendously useful for the rest of the month â€” in the following weeks, we’ll practice letting go of what we need to let go of, then setting intentions and creating plans for our next year.
This week is about taking stock, about stepping back and looking at the big picture, about looking back for the sake of moving forward. We don’t often give ourselves the space to do that. Treat yourself with love and give yourself that space today, and for the rest of this month. Just 10-15 minutes (20 minutes each day, if you have it).
What I’d like you to do is set aside 20 minutes in your calendar every day for this month. Block it off. You only need to use 10-15 minutes, but set aside 20 minutes on your calendar. Or 30 minutes if you’re feeling ambitious, but you really only need to do 20 minutes. This will be your block of time for this challenge.
Four Days: Review Your Year in Small Steps
This part can feel a little overwhelming, so to break from the pattern of shutting down when we feel overwhelmed, what I want you to do is do it in small, doable steps.
Here’s what I’d like you to do:
- Set a timer for 10, 15 or 20 minutes (whatever feels super doable to you).
- Open up a text document (or Google Doc, Apple or Evernote note, paper notebook, etc.) (or use this template)
- Make a list of months (Jan, Feb, etc)
- Under each month, make a list of the major events that happened for you this year, perhaps looking back through your calendar to prompt you to remember (I use Google Calendar).
- Add major projects, accomplishments, trips, life changes (lost weight, started meditating, went through a divorce, etc.)
- When the timer goes off, feel free to stop. If you feel like doing it for a few more minutes, feel free to continue, but you don’t have to.
Do this every day for the next four days, starting today.
Don’t stress about whether you are doing this fast enough. Don’t stress about getting everything. On your last day (Day 4), let go of being detailed, and just get the major ones in, so that you have a basic idea of how the year went.
If you have extra time during the rest of the week, feel free to fill in more things as you remember. The same goes for the rest of the month â€” maybe next week you remember things to add to your list. It’s just nice to have this year-end review. But it’s also really helpful for the last few days of this week.
Day 5: Review Your Wins
On Day 5, set a timer just like in the first four days. Today, you’re going to review your wins over the past year. Add these to the bottom of the same document as the first four days, using your year review to guide you.
- What major goals did you achieve? What major projects?
- What big habit changes did you do (at least fairly) well at?
- What can you be proud of?
- What did you do right? Even small things.
- What happy events happened for you?
- Where did you move things in the right direction?
- Now here’s a key part of today: what did you learn from these victories that you’d like to keep doing?
You don’t have to be too detailed, but just make a note of your wins and lessons from the wins.
If you have extra time, spend a couple minutes just reflecting on that information.
Day 6: Review Your Struggles
Today, we’re going to look at where you struggled. Again, set a timer and use the same document, adding to the end. You might create a section in the document subtitled, “My Struggles.”
Let me remind you that this is not about beating yourself up. It’s not about guilt or shame. It’s about learning.
So here’s what to do today:
- List the most difficult things that you went through this year â€” child custody battle, death of a loved one, getting sickened by politicians, struggling with debt.
- List areas where you failed, or moved in the direction of failure. Notice if shame arises. That might be something to let go of next week.
- List areas where you hoped to succeed but didn’t make it.
- List the things that were the most painful to you. Or where you caused the most pain for others.
- List habits that you wanted to change but struggled to change â€” health habits, mindfulness habits, productivity or creativity habits. Where did you struggle with them?
- Now here’s a key part of today: what did you learn from these struggles that you can use for your next year?
Again, don’t get too detailed. Just make a list of some of this stuff, the major things that stick out. Then list a few key lessons.
Sometime today, I recommend taking a few quiet minutes to reflect on all of this.
Day 7: Review Where You Dropped the Ball
OK, today is the last day of our Review week! Today is similar to Day 6, except instead of listing struggles, we’re going to look specifically at where we dropped the ball â€” not all struggles are a result of us dropping the ball. This exercise is useful because we can learn from that and grow from it.
- Where did you let people down?
- Where did you procrastinate and not do what you hoped to do?
- Where did you give in to comfort and not stick to your plans?
- Where did you set goals and then give up on them?
- Where did you overcommit or take on too much?
- Where did you let yourself get complacent?
- Where were you not as trustable or reliable as you’d like?
- And most importantly: what can you learn from these things (instead of beating yourself up about them), and grow in the next year?
The key thing is to get clear on where we dropped the ball or let others (or ourselves) down … and then pull out important lessons.
And again, sometime today, I recommend taking a few quiet minutes to reflect on all of this.
Finally … please set reminders to come back each day and look at these instructions, and then do your daily tasks.
You can do this.