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New Year, New You? Before you look forward, you need to look back


By Niamh Ennis
19th Dec 2023

IMDB

New Year, New You? Before you look forward, you need to look back

With the shiny New Year beckoning us forward, Niamh Ennis reminds us of the importance of reflection.

The scramble begins roundabout now. You start looking ahead to the next calendar year and begin the process of listing out all those things you promise yourself that you’re going to do, what you’re going to achieve and just how you’re going to show up in 2023. Yet in order to properly pave the way for a new year, you should first of all, complete a full review of the year gone by. 

The temptation is to brush it under the carpet, which let’s face it, you are quite good at, and allow yourself to become distracted by all the external white noise that has you permanently looking up ahead. The shiny, sparkly new year beckons and you convince yourself that things will feel easier if you divert your attention to what’s going to happen in the future. 

When you finally admit that you are in fact avoiding the past, and possibly some of the things that happened in it; you have to ask yourself what did I just learn from that? Every single thing that happens, every person you come across, every experience you live through all has the potential to teach you something important about yourself. By constantly rushing on to the next thing you normally miss out on this golden opportunity – but not this time!

Next, I’m going to ask you a series of questions that will remind you of what happened in the last year so that you can identify the valuable lessons that you learned… even those you’ve been ignoring.

What worked well for you? When you reflect on the past year – what was it that makes you smile, content, satisfied? What did you try that worked? What were you a little bit scared of, but you did anyway, you pushed yourself and it all went well in the end?

Equally, what led to disappointment? Was there something you put a lot of work and effort into and it didn’t turn out how you wanted? Why do you think that was? What would you do differently next time, or do you feel it’s time now to park it in the past?

What information did you acquire that really helped you? You may have read a book, spoken with a coach, did an online course, attended a workshop – what did you discover that changed your behaviour and benefitted what you did next?

Where did you find you had the greatest clarity in your life? Regardless of whether it was a positive or negative outcome what happened that opened your eyes

What did you do last year that truly surprised you? What is it you would love to do more of?

When you hit difficult times and challenges that felt impossible to overcome, can you recall what you did or who you turned to?

This leads us to an extremely important point when it comes to doing your own personal review. The tendency, when we look back on any time of our lives is usually to focus on the ‘whats’ and the ‘hows’, which, of course, are crucial. But, trust me, it’s just as necessary for you to look back at the ‘whos’.  Who influenced you, affected you, helped you or hindered you?

Questions that will help you explore this further by going to the layer beneath: 

  • Who was with you when you felt at your best? 
  • Who could you see tried to make you feel better
  • Who were your cheerleaders? 
  • Who did you not feel free to be yourself around?
  • Who do you feel safe to be you with?
  • Who let you down?
  • Who disappointed you?
  • Who inspired you to do more and to be more?
  • Who motivated and encouraged you to achieve more? 
  • Who put pressure on you and was critical of you?
  • Who showed you they loved you?
  • Who respected your opinions and feelings?

While some of these questions might at first glance seem simple and, dare I say it, a little obvious, let me assure you that they are designed to appear that way; but they will also provide you with some vital information on how situations, and people, made you feel this past year, which in turn, will inform what you learn, what you want to leave behind and what you want to continue repeating. 

We rarely give ourselves the time to do this and so many of the discussions that take place at this time of year are far too heavily focused on resolutions and totally overlook the treasure that lies in the detail of the year gone by. 

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of just looking at those things that you didn’t get right or that you didn’t do. So why not use this review process to begin thinking about how the year was for you and then acknowledge all of your learnings so that you can see the potential that lies ahead. And as you step from one year to the next let me remind you that it was David Bowie who fittingly said “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I know it won’t be boring!” 

 

Niamh Ennis is Ireland’s leading Change & Transformation Coach and Author of Get Unstuck. Host of the Tough Love Energy Podcast, Niamh has created a special three-part series free to access from mid-December called Release & Receive. Subscribe to receive. 

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