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How to Journal your 2020 Review & Recap

Everyone is always quick to welcome in the new year. This year of 2021 is certainly no exception, as for many 2020 was a year full of challenges and changes. Setting new goals and resolutions for the upcoming year is a wonderful practice. However, I believe before setting goals and identifying resolutions there needs to first be a Review and Recap of the past year. We cannot begin to look forward until we have understood what has brought us to where we are right now. Don’t rush into the new year without first conducting an introspective Review and Recap of the previous year.

How to journal your Review and Recap

Clear out 20-30 minutes in your schedule and sit down somewhere quiet and comfortable. Remove any distractions that will interfere with your ability to fully present for the process. Writing things down in a journal (paper or electronic) allows you to return to the material at various times throughout the year to assess your progress. When conducting my Review and Recap I focus on three primary areas- my struggles, my successes, and my lessons. Thoroughly exploring these three areas will allow you to gain insight into issues that presented problems or setbacks, areas of strength and growth, and most importantly, what you learned as a result of the former.

What were my struggles?

We cannot overcome our struggles without first identifying and understanding them. Did you have a difficult time in your relationships this past year? Did you falter at work or with your business? Did your self-care suffer as you forfeited your exercise regimen and turned to stress-fueled eating? Were your finances an issue? Did you constantly feel lonely and missing connection with others? Ideally our goals for the upcoming year are addressing struggles and deficits from the past year. What struggles are you ready to release? What steps do you need to take in order to shift these patterns and move into a more empowered and healthy place?

What were my successes?

Making a list of your successes from the past year builds confidence and increases feelings of efficacy. It allows us to see the accomplishments we have achieved and goals we have actualized. I always review my successes after writing out my struggles, because while exploring struggles can be discouraging, following that up with successes allows me to see that plenty of positives happened as well. Did you start or finish an important project? Did you get a new job or a raise? Were you able to pay off debts or start saving for a special trip/purchase? Did you enter into a new relationship or grow your family? Did you take steps to improve your health, learn a new skill, or devote more time to a hobby? Successes don’t have to be huge to be important. Little successes are the foundation to major changes.

What were my lessons?

What was I meant to learn as a result of the past year's events? What have I learned that has helped build insight into where my life is heading? One of the best ways to identify lessons is to examine common themes that surfaced on multiple occasions. Drawing from your list of struggles and successes will help you best understand your lessons. Our struggles will point out lessons we still need to devote more time towards, while our successes may be evidence of lessons we effectively learned and actualized.

Once you have identified your struggles, successes, and lessons you can now use this vital information towards forming your goals for the upcoming year. Still having a difficult time identifying important components from your Review and Recap? Take time to talk to friends and family and listen to their input. Perhaps they can share with you some enlightening insights on struggles and successes they have witnessed. Already tried talking with friends and family, but still having a hard time putting your finger on things? Consider talking with a mental health professional who is trained to assist in pinpointing themes and patterns that play a major role in shaping your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Wishing everyone a fantastic 2021.

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