Monday, December 26, 2016

Putting The Year To Bed: Tips For A Year-End Review

This is my absolute favorite time of the year. Christmas is winding down and we get to start planning for the year ahead. I'm not talking about resolutions. I'm talking about a genuine examination of what we want/need/expect from 2017, and I honestly don't think you can achieve that without looking back at what just happened in the past. You need a year-end review.

A few years ago, before kids and medication, I used to live SO HARD in the lifestyle/Mommy blogging world (read: obsessively reading and comparing myself to these filtered, cropped families), and I built up some huge ideas about who I wanted to be. Every year, I would write out a fresh, huge list of resolutions that would transform me.  One year, I had 12 goals, one for each month. I was going to learn to sew using vintage patterns, grow all my own veggies, lose a ton of weight, redecorate my home, and basically become a new person by the end of year. I could link to this blog post but it's actually so sad that it hurts to think about. Okay here but I warned you.

I didn't think about who I was or what was actually happening in my life. I just wanted to look like those other fancy 20-somethings. In actuality, I was so unhappy that I was chain smoking on my back porch and hiding from most in person social interaction, but I thought if I ran fast enough and screamed loud enough on the internet, I could forget that shit and start a shiny new year. GUESS WHAT DIDN'T WORK LOL. I still get depressed and still sometimes dream about transforming into an interesting, vintage-wearing coastal millennial with a Polaroid deal on my blog, but those are fleeting thoughts. Looking back at the life I'm living helps ground me. Then the real work of planning the next year can begin.

Here are a few of my tips for reviewing the year you just lived:

1. Make your own highlights reel. Write down each of the 12 months on a piece of blank paper, and write the big events that happened for each. It's up to you how big to go. Add weddings, funerals, job changes, large trips, momentous news. This is data, people. Was a part of the year loaded with downer news? Did you travel a lot during a certain time period? The 12-month-paper method helps you see some of the things you accomplished and some of the things you survived. 

2. Read about yourself. People will use all their available air vilifying social media overshares, but screw 'em, because you are about to get a review of your year on the daily level. Go back through your most used social media accounts. If you are a person who posts often or even semi-often, it can be super valuable in getting a feel for how things actually were in February. Warning: this can take a surprisingly long time. There might be a lot of comb through, but this isn't homework- do whatever feels good. (Some sites will run the numbers for you- the music service Spotify has a playlist of your most-listened to songs, and Goodreads will show you your year in books.) 

3. End with a little freehand. Write, draw, list, whatever, but after going over the last year, give yourself time to really think about how you feel about it. It's hard to separate the way you feel in the post-holiday burnt-out haze from the way your entire year actually went. Give yourself permission to name the year. You're about to leave it behind, anyway, so no need to be polite, 

And links:

How To Conduct Your Own Annual Review  (different article with similar title!)

I hope you take the time to do a review of the year, because I'm selfish and I want to read what you came up with! When I complete mine, I'll share it, and I would love you to do the same- send me a link or post something in the comments! Let's put this year properly to bed. Next up- 2017! 

(image credit: Taryn Knight)

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