Invest in your well-being: Conduct your own Year in Review with Gratitude!

It’s that time of the year again, closing out the old and opening the new. With the end of the year here, it’s the perfect time to conduct your own personal or professional Year in Review to gage your accomplishments and growth in 2019 before you set intentions for continued progress in 2020. If you work for an organization as an employee, reviewing you performance annually is a standard process, where you reflect on your initial goals, the progress you made toward them– noting any obstacles or challenges that lead to growth, and adopting new goals to stretch towards for continuous improvement in the new year. Whether you work in an organization or are your own boss, conducting your own Year in Review can be beneficial to identify and acknowledge where you spent your time and how you grew. Keep in mind, you don’t have to review only on positive outcomes or intentional goals; you can dip into the challenging stuff too and perhaps unveil a silver lining or lesson about the situation or yourself that you would not have learned otherwise.

This awareness can increase your self-efficacy (belief that you can do it) and agency (actually doing it), and help you move forward toward whatever goals you set for yourself in the future. By attaching gratitude to your Year in Review you can acknowledge how those experiences impacted your life today for the better and reinforce a positive outlook. And in doing so, you will additionally be improving multiple aspects of your health and well-being; physically, emotionally/psychologically and socially.

How to: Year in Review with Gratitude

As there are many roads to Rome, there are many ways to conduct a Year in Review with Gratitude. Check out the following and see if any resonate with you:

  1. Start with Importance: Start with the most important goals/projects/stuff that you intentionally took on in 2019.  Review both your professional and personal life by asking and answering these questions:
    1. What was the goal?
    2. What did it involve?
    3. What was your role?
    4. What did you do?
    5. Who else was involved?
    6. What did others do?
    7. Are you ready to acknowledge your goal as complete, or are there lingering actions you need to roll into the new year?
      • If your goal is complete, express your gratitude for this experience, those involved and how it impacted your life.
      • If your goal is not complete, ask if this goal is still important?
        • If not, can you let it go and simply gain from the lessons learned? 
        • If it is still important, what support or actions do you need to do to finish it? Chart those actions into your 2020 plan.

Following these steps for all your intentional goals/projects/stuff that you spent time on in 2019 and repeat it for all those things you took on that were both planned and not planned—in response to whatever arose during the year.  If you can tie your goals and actions back to your values, you will also see how you lived by your values in the year. 

My example: One intentional goal I completed at the beginning of 2019 was to renew my coaching credential with the International Coach Federation (ICF). To do this, I had to complete many sub-goals/tasks: 1) completing a specific number of hours of continuing coach education (CCEs) over the last 3 years; 2) engaging in a mentoring relationship over a specified time period with a certified ICF Coach; and 3) submitting the renewal application and attaching all supporting documentation of the above sub-goals. As a result of this multi-step effort, I was able to renew my credential and also provide my coaching clients with improved competencies across the board. In achieving this goal, I am now in the position to mentor other ICF coaches looking to earn or renew their credential.

In expressing gratitude, I am thankful: for the ICF organization for offering this route of renewal, and to the employees who processed my application; for the organizations who offered courses in service of enhancing my coaching skills, and to the teachers who presented new perspectives and tools to increase my effectiveness; and for my mentor who helped me create awareness to up-level my coaching, and understand the value of the continuous learning process.  This goal aligns with my core values of contributing to others, leading and inspiring, expressing autonomy, and being a lifelong learner.

2. Start Chronologically: Conduct a chronological review of the year—month by month from January to December. Look back at your calendaring system or journal. Where did you spend your time? What was important about it? How do you feel now at the end of the year? Ask yourself the same questions as above, 1a-1h.  You can use a table (such as an example below) to map these out visually:

MonthGoal(s)What you didYour roleOthers InvolvedHow it’s ImpactedGratitude
January1. 2. 3.     
February1. 2. 3.     

3. Start with your Values: Reflect on your values. What actions did you take this past year to support your values?  How did you invest time, effort, and/or funds into supporting that value? How have you strengthened your commitment to this value? Write down your reflection, value by value.  What did you learn about your situation or yourself as you look back on a value-driven life?

One Example: If you value physical well-being, what did you do to support your health this past year? Did you have your annual check-up? Did you start or maintain a fitness program? How about ramping up your sleep ritual to ensure healthy rest? Perhaps you tweaked your nutrition plan to include more vegetables and less carbohydrates?  Whatever you did to support your values, write it down. And then give thanks. To whom do you wish to express gratitude for being able to take these actions and live by your values? Always be sure to include yourself in your gratitude circle– bringing compassion and recognition for making the effort to attend to those things that are/were important.

Notice the Impact of Your Year in Review with Gratitude

Whichever method you use to conduct your own Year in Review with Gratitude, take note of how you feel after. Do you have greater well-being? Are you more inspired to continue to conquer your goals? Will you be adopting bigger/bolder goals for this next year or scaling back and noticing how that influences where you spend your time—focusing on quality over quantity?

Life is a work in progress—there is no DONE state, until we are actually done. And at that point, wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that we lived a life we found fulfilling, and intentionally chosing our actions aligned with what we believed was important?  Remember, it’s never to late to start living a life with intention and aligned with your values. Just meet yourself where you are and begin from there. Stop to pause for reflection during times of transition and then express gratitude for those experiences you have been blessed with in service to growing into the best version of yourself. You will be thankful you did!

More Kindness on Valentine’s Day

February 14th. What better day to celebrate love and kindness in the world (besides on your own birthday) than on Valentine’s Day? Last night I spent some time writing words of love to my husband and family. Today I presented those words to them, and found it put me on a path of love for the day; on a gentler road. What if we started all our days like that? What if the world started all their days with loving words and compliments? What a changed world we would see– one of pure compassion.  Makes me want to try to start every day this way. It does take time and effort, but it’s well worth it.

Words that Matter

Last night I also helped my 9-year-old daughter with her Valentines. She has moved away from store-bought valentine’s for a few years now, and prefers to make them herself. Last year she made bookmark valentines. This year it was even more simple: a piece of paper cut out like a heart (with butterflies printed on it– as her school’s mascot is the Monarch), a complimentary sentence, and a lollypop attached. She made these by herself, stamping names onto the heart, adding a scrolling glittery decoration as well, and composed each compliment. I loved reading what she thought of her classmates: “You are creative,” You are a good friend,” You are generous,” You are good at math.” On and on and on she went.  How wonderful for these kids to have those words to go back to whenever they need a little lift.  She made me a card, and her father, brother and sister one as well. I love her warm spirit and seeing the good in other people. I just wished she would see more of the good spirit in herself, every day.

Words for Thy Self

Though my youngest has a complimentary spirit toward others, she does not have one towards herself. Unfortunately, she is always comparing herself to others; but only in the areas in which she is lacking. She constantly replays tapes of negativity about herself. Where she’s heard this information from, I’m not sure. But I want to put an end to it. So, this month we’ve started an experiment using daily self-affirmations.  I saw an interview this Fall on Oprah’s Lifeclass , “You Become What You Believe,” with Cheryl Richardson— a life coach, author and expert on self-care.  On Cheryl’s website she states:

    “Self-care is good for the planet.  From years of personal experience, as well as coaching great men and women, I’ve come to understand that selfishness leads to selflessness.  When we care deeply for ourselves, we naturally begin to care for others – our families, our friends, our greater global community, and the environment – in a healthier and more effective way.”

During her interview with Oprah, Cheryl recommended– to improve your self-image– saying positive daily affirmations for 30 days to turn your attitude around from a half-empty to half-full perspective. Her thinking– shared by many– is that we need to retrain our brain to thinking we are what we intend, and then we will act accordingly. Repeating this process (saying an affirmation everyday) allows the brain to strengthen associations, making this an exercise of the brain as well. Self-fulfilling prophecy is in volumes of psychological research, and still exists after all these years, even though we know our mind can trick us into believing anything really. Cheryl recommends breaking away from old habits of self-doubt and into new habits of self-love.  If we can trick our brains into believing the worst about ourselves and then acting to make that belief true, we are then able to trick our brains to believing the best about ourselves, and then acting to make THAT belief true.  What I am talking about here is directly tied into self-compassion and self-kindness that I posted about previously.

Daily Self-Affirmation Resources

Below is a list of resources that I use for daily self-affirmations; little reminders that life is positive and we are up for the challenge. Take a look. Some are print based and others are electronic. The great thing is that they are available to all– and can help lead us in the right direction– the direction of self-love.

  • Cheryl Richardson shares a list of affirmations on
  • Another source I go to– or one that comes to me in my inbox via email is from Owning Kristina. It’s called “Mojo Mondays” and it’s a way to start your week off thinking about something healthy… for yourself.
  • Louise Hay, a motivational author and founder of Hay House Publications also promotes daily affirmations.
  • I found a nice app recently for the iPhone. An Affirmations app that has numerous positive affirmations for all to practice, all at your finger tips. Worth checking out.
  • Facebook has a Positive Affirmations page as well, with new posts daily.

Which ever source you choose to pull from, the point is– just be kinder to yourself and to do so, you need to believe in yourself fully.

Wishing everyone a lovely Valentine’s day full of kindness in any form!