3 Ways to Reflect On Last Year (Before Setting New Goals)

Helllllllo! After a much needed extended break, we’re back to our regularly scheduled posting! Hope you guys all had a great holiday season. More from me later, but for now, Maxie is sharing her tips for what you need to do before heading into the new year.


3 Ways to Reflect On Last Year (Before Setting New Goals)

Guest post by Maxie McCoy

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The days between the holiday and the New Year feel so cozy. Everything slows down. The pressure of the holidays has released. And the new year grind, whether it’s upcoming classes or projects or workload, hasn’t totally started yet. Instead, we’re left with some empty space – To dream. To think. To do nothing. To journal. To relax. To be with people we love. To reflect.

And goodness if this isn’t the perfect time for reflecting. While everything on the internet – every blog post, every media outlet, every Instagram note – will be touting the whole new year, new you theme. It’s actually the perfect time to not think about the NEW you, but about the OLD you instead. Because in reflecting about the old you…the one who lived these last 365 days and came out kicking (for better for worse)… you get to make more intentional goals, and more plans rooted in something meaningful.

I beg of you, please don’t get so wrapped up in the obsession with being an improved person in the new year that you lose sight of all the amazing learnings from the last one. You need those lessons. They’re small but significant bits of insight that will make the year ahead that much more effective, provided you take a minute to turn around and give merit to what you’ve done, how you felt, and why.

Reflecting is easy. It’s especially easy when it’s prompted. Don’t miss an opportunity to take in all of last year before pushing into the new one. Slow down and consider these few different ways to reflect:

Answer these 25 questions This is my ritual. Every year at this time I reflect using a set of questions for myself. Over the years, more and more people have asked for them so I turned the set of Qs into a worksheet. This year I even hosted a bunch of girls at my place and led them in a night of reflection (these Qs are a great thing to do with your friends!!). Print them out. Or open them on your laptop. Get out your favorite journal. And let the insights flow. When you’re done, observe what didn’t come up in your answers, what was reoccurring, and what surprised you. It’ll help inform where to put your energies next year.

Follow this gratitude exercise inspiring goal coach Jacki Carr published a brilliant journaling exercise that’s all about listing out what you’re grateful for before listing out what you want in the new year. She created this journaling exercise with step-by-step instructions. I’ll definitely be adding this to my New Year reflection ritual this year!

Free write – open up a journal or a blank note on your phone and work your way through the year. Write out everything that comes up for you – the highs, the lows, the surprises, the hardships and the feelings. You might be surprised what memories show up when you left yourself go – writing everything and anything that comes up for you about the past year. It’s interesting what shows up in these writings and what doesn’t. It might shed light on feelings and significance that you hadn’t been paying attention to.

Don’t gloss over the last year of your life by hopping right into a new one. Slow down and reflect on all the places that you’ve been. Reflection will give you the answers to everything you’re searching for in 2019.

If you’re feeling unsure about where you’re headed in 2019, read Maxie’s book You’re Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan for Finding Your Own Way. It has worksheets and places for plenty of reflection, too!

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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

I agree that reflection is so important; otherwise, it’s just like starting from square one! When I’m thinking back on the past year, I like to revisit the monthly recaps on my blog to remind me of all the big and small moments. // Gratitude is transformative, and though I’m familiar with weekly gratitude exercises, I guess I didn’t think of doing gratitude exercises especially for the New Year, which is a great idea. // Happy New Year! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

Alexa Marsh

I love the start of a new year! I too think that it is so important to reflect on the past year and be grateful for the experiences you had while also analyzing what you could have done differently to achieved some of your goals. I loved reading this post, and I can’t wait to fill out the 25 questions worksheet as well as the gratitude one!


I loved completing the reflection worksheet- thanks so much for sharing it Maxie! Especially loved that it is a fillable PDF 🙂 It is a great reminder of what to focus on for 2019!


What a refreshing read! Maxie’s posts are always so inspirational and insightful. I’m really looking forward to completing the worksheet and gratitude exercise!