As the year comes to an end, people often reflect on what has transpired over the past year. How is my life different now from a year ago? It is an important question to ask and really ponder. Are you getting closer to your goals and dreams? Perhaps even achieving them? Can you measure growth? Have you found God’s will for you? Are you doing your best to strive for it? If you haven’t done this before, or you haven’t done it so thoroughly, I highly recommend starting the tradition. Heck, it could be the first thing you change for the sake of the new year!
When I reflect on the past year, I look at the good, the bad and the ugly… even if it seems there is more bad and ugly than good. It’s so crucial to look at ALL that has transpired. If you only look at the good, then often the bad and the ugly just hang on like dead weight and baggage in the new year. It’s also advisable to let go of any baggage accumulated from this past year – starting fresh in 2012. If we only look at the ugly, then we miss the growth that has occurred. The good stuff is just as important, or even more important to the learning process as the ugly stuff. When you reflect on the questions below, I recommend taking the time to write them down. You can be more thorough and visually see your 2011 on paper.
The Good Stuff – What have you accomplished this year – spiritually, professionally, personally, financially, socially, academically? What were the pleasant surprises of the year? What gifts has God bestowed you with? (should be plenty here) Did you learn any lessons about yourself? About life? Really think about the many blessings positivity that Our Lord has placed in your life. Celebrate this good stuff and share it with loved ones!
The Bad Stuff – What disappointments or regrets did you experience this year? What were some of the not-so-pleasant surprises? (plenty for me here) What mistakes did you make that you learned from? (again, plenty) Try to bring some compassion and some forgiveness to these moments, so you can let them go and move on. It’s been a long year, and undoubtedly a lot of situations ended unfavorably, a lot of people have wronged you, and a lot of new turmoil has arisen. If there are lessons to learn from these experiences, pray that the Good and Merciful Lord gives you the strength to learn them and take them with you into 2012.
The Ugly Stuff – What were the moments of 2011 that you would rather forget about altogether? When were those times of utter despair? What was the event or, for me, sequence of events that threw your life into the most unexpected tailspin of unfairness, confusion, hurt, abandonment, and destruction? The main part here is that you survived the ugly stuff. Although challenging, I invite you to recall those memories, feelings, and judgments, so you can let them go and move on in faith and hope in God. What’s also important in letting the ugly stuff go is finding the lesson and the gift that Christ shows you through these experiences. While this too can be a struggle, it helps in moving on so that grudges or hurt feelings don’t linger or hold you back in the future.
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – Unknown
“Reflect upon your blessings, of which every man has plenty, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some” – Charles Dickens