2012 is almost over and what a crazy year it has been!

At the end of the year comes the beginning of a new year, and with the beginning of a new year comes the beginning of a new set of goals. At the beginning of a new set of goals comes the opportunity to live a more satisfying, successful and happy life, and it’s how you treat this process that will influence your success in the coming year.

To ensure that 2013 is set to be the best year you have ever had, it’s important to reflect on the year that was. What are the things that you are most proud of? What are the biggest discoveries you have made this year? What has made you the happiest? Understanding the answers to these questions will give you a huge boost in ensuring 2013 is the year that you change your life.

Every year I have a process of reflection that I go through to ensure that I am progressing in life and being satisfied and fulfilled. If we don’t reflect on our lives, we don’t know if we are heading in the right direction, and we don’t learn from the events that have shaped our lives.

People who do not take the time to reflect on their lives often feel “lost”, or that they are just drifting through life. It’s absolutely crazy how many people feel this way. In fact, I ran a survey a couple of months ago and the responses blew me away.

Although 91% of respondents noted that they feel it’s extremely important to have clarity about what you want to do with your life, only 34% of respondents indicated that they have some clarity about the direction in which they want to go—that leaves a whopping 66% with little or no focus. Out of a survey of over 200 respondents, not one individual mentioned that they get to live their passion on a daily basis.

This is why reflecting on 2012 is vitally important.

Reflecting on the year-that-was helps you to identify your successes and help determine your strengths; it helps you to ensure that you are progressing towards your larger goals in life; and it helps you lay the foundation for goal-setting, assisting you in ensuring that 2013 is going to be the best year you have ever had.

Right now is the best time to reflect on your life and the year of 2012, so I encourage you to take 20 minutes to participate in the exercise below.

How to reflect on the previous year

Find yourself a peaceful and quiet location to reflect on the past year, a place where there are no distractions around so you can really focus your thoughts. An ideal location would be somewhere outside of your own home—perhaps a beach or a nearby park. Find somewhere you can set your mind free.

Take a notepad and pen with you, or if you’re into technology, take your iPad or similar device.

Write down your answers to the questions below, but note that these questions are just a guide: depending on your individual circumstances, you may want to add your own questions that are more specific or relevant to your life.

Ready? Here goes:

  • What are the 5 things of 2012 that you are most proud of?
  • What new connections have you made, and how have these shaped your life?
  • What experience has made you the happiest?
  • Who has made you happiest?
  • What have been the best moments in your career this year?
  • What changes would you make to your career in 2013?
  • What challenges did you overcome this year? How did you do it?
  • What has held you back from achieving what you wanted to do this year?
  • What can you do in 2013 to ensure this doesn’t happen again?
  • What habit did you acquire this year that has made a difference?
  • What habit has prohibited you from achieving what you wanted this year?
  • What habit do you want to enable in 2013 that will make a difference?
  • What was your biggest mistake in 2012? What have you learned from this?
  • What else have you learned this year?
  • What are 3 words that sum up your year?
  • If you were to live 2012 all over again, what would you do differently?
  • Add your own!

The Next Steps

Now that you have reflected on the past year, keep your answers at the front of your mind, and file your notes about them nearby so you can refer to them regularly. Your reflections will become the starting point for setting your goals for the year, and those goals for 2013 will be much more targeted and more relevant to what it is that truly makes you happy.

It only takes 20 to 30 minutes to do this, and this short reflection can have a huge impact on your overall well-being, your learning, and your success for 2013.

Let me know how it goes as I would love to hear your experiences! 2013 is going to be an amazing year. I can feel it!

Featured photo credit:  abstract image of a businessmen rushing in the lobby via Shutterstock

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