There is power in reflection, and we don’t do it enough. So, while you’re on this post–set aside time now to reflect on this past year with some thoughtful end of year reflection questions to ask yourself.
With a culture hyper focused on productivity and achievement, it can be easy to go from one thing to the next without taking the time to reflect. But this shortchanges us as we don’t have time to pause, assess, and make changes before going on to our next project or into the next year.
Take the time now to do your year end reflection 2022 and keep track of your reflection with the end of year reflection worksheet below.
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Questions to Reflect on the Past Year and Set New Year Intentions
As a woman in corporate America and a graduate student who is juggling career and school, my to-do list most days is endless. But even on the weeks where I’m not sure if the to-do list will ever end, I schedule time to reflect and reassess all of the craziness going on in my life.
Growth is a process and change is never easy. Without questions to reflect on, we are hurting our chances to do both. But by taking the time to work through end of year reflection questions for 2022 (or any year and season), we have the opportunity to:
- Learn from our past mistakes
- Create new and better goals
- Celebrate accomplishments and milestones
- Build a plan for the future with lessons from the past
- Target new skills we need to develop
- Create our new bucket list
- and much more!
The First Year End Reflection Question
Before we get started with the end of year reflection questions to ask yourself, I have a question that is more important than the 37 questions and topics I’ll cover in this post.
How does God fit into your end of year reflection time?
An end of year reflection should begin with being grateful for how far we’ve come! Instead of rushing ahead at full speed (like I tend to do), I have to remind myself to do three things before reflecting and setting my new year intentions.
God fits into my year end review like this:
- First, I reflect on a year by thanking God for where I am now.
- Second, I look back on the journey in wonderment, celebrating what God has done in my life.
- Third, I look to the future with a list of goals and new years intentions, but surrender my heart to the ways of the Lord. God’s will is sovereign and because of His great love for us, we can be assured that He also wants the best for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
So now that we have our hearts pointed toward God and the most important question out of the way, I want to talk about why we’re doing a year end review and reflection anyway.
Why are year end reviews important?
Year end reviews are important because they highlight the areas of our lives where we’ve found success and the areas where we may need to improve. It forces us to take a critical eye to our choices and ponder how we could make better ones going forward.
Additionally, it allows us to see how we spent our time, energy, and money the last 365 days and consider how to invest those things in the 365 days to come. Without a year end review, we are prone to repeat mistakes and stay stagnant because we can’t process the events of the year and the emotions that went along with it.
Lastly, reflection activities help us form a new vision for where we want to go next. In other words, you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been!
How do you do a personal end year review?
There are many ways to do a personal end year review. Here is a brief outline of steps to take when planning and doing an end of the year reflection.
- Pick a time and place.
- Create an appointment on your calendar or write it down in your planner. Once you’ve set the time aside, don’t let other things make you push it off.
- Whenever and wherever you do your year end reflection, make sure it’s in an environment where you can be honest and vulnerable.
- Decide who (if anyone) you want to reflect with.
- There is no sharing of your personal end year review required. However, sometimes sharing our thoughts can help us process them. Having a trusted friend to encourage you and bounce ideas off of may also be helpful, too.
- Another option is to start an activity with a friend then finish on your own. Or you could do a end year review by yourself and decide what you want to share with others.
- Gather questions to ask yourself for self reflection and new years reflection activities.
- This step is all about planning out what you’re going to do with your reflection time. Take suggestions from this list of reflection questions and end of year journal prompts or come up with your own.
- When doing your personal year end review, don’t feel like you can only write. One of my friends who is a professional dancer will dance her prayers. You better believe that she can dance her reflections, too.
- Once you start your year end review, start with the reflection and journal prompts to get your mind warmed up.
- The key here is to brainstorm any and all ideas that you have related to the prompt.
- Go Deeper.
- Next, use the reflection questions for 2022 below to think more deeply about the themes you see in your reflection answers. What surprised you? What will you do with what you’ve learned from this reflection?
A Proper Mindset for End of Year Reflection Questions
Before beginning your year end review, remember to stay encouraged no matter what comes up during your personal reflection. No one is perfect. God does not expect perfection from us and neither should we.
We learn and we grow as we navigate the adulting struggle. God simply wants us to seek Him and look to Him for guidance and wisdom.
When to Use Reflection Prompts
Though these are end of year reflection questions to ask yourself, keep in mind that you don’t have to save them for December 31st. Neither are they only reserved for one use every 365 day period.
One of the most powerful times of reflection I did was not at the end of the year. It was the middle of June in the sunny co-principality of Andorra. I was days from finishing my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, and a couple of weeks from starting my job in corporate America.
It was a time of transition, leaving one way of life behind for another, and so I took the time to ask myself some end of year reflection questions like the ones I’ll share with you next.
End of Year Questions to Ask Yourself during your Reflection
I hope these reasons for why end of year reflections are so important inspire you to schedule and do your own year end review. Using the steps outlined above, make a plan to work through these 2023 reflection questions and new years reflection worksheet.
8 “Year in Review” Questions to Summarize Your Past Year
First, let’s start with some questions that will help you do a “year in review.” This step is all about summarizing the past year:
- How did you begin this year? How do you want to end it?
- What sentence or phrase sums up your year?
- What one word would you use to describe your year?
- What sticks out to you most about the past year?
- For example, an event, a memory, a change, a big accomplishment, or a milestone.
- How did the year surprise you? What things went as expected?
- What are the biggest events or headlines from this year?
- What significant life events or transitions did you go through this year?
- If this year were a milestone on a project plan, what would the milestone be?
10 Self Reflective Questions to Ask Yourself (Honestly!)
Remember that honesty and vulnerability that I talked about earlier? This next set of self reflection questions are more personal.
However, it’s important to ask yourself tough questions during an end of year reflection. If you’re honest here, these answers will guide you in setting new year intentions and starting off the new year strong.
- What accomplishments are you proud of this year?
- Which of those is your proudest accomplishment and why?
- What mistakes are you still holding onto from the past year?
- Why are those mistakes hard for you to let go of?
- How did you take care of yourself this year?
- Emotionally, mentally, physically?
- What character trait did you develop most over the past year?
- What character trait did you rely on or practice the most this year? (Examples: patience, forgiveness, courage, hope, joy, thankfulness)
- What excited you this past year?
- What disappointed you this past year?
- What is the first word or thought that comes to mind when you think of the past year?
9 Important Self Reflection Questions to Ask
This next group of questions are a “must have” when it comes to yearly reflection questions. While this set of thoughtful self reflection questions might leave you scratching your head a little bit, don’t abandon them.
- What have you not done this year that you wish you had?
- What did you learn this year about the world? About yourself?
- What do you wish you had known at the start of the year? Why?
- What would you have done differently if you have known that? (Question 3)
- How have you changed over the year?
- What challenges have you overcome this year?
- What challenges do you still need to conquer?
- How did where you start this year compare to now?
- How will you protect the memories that you’ve created this year?
The first few in this group of end of year reflection questions can be hard to answer. If you do find an answer, you have to be careful not to beat yourself up or dwell on could’ve, would’ve, should’ve. Remember to show yourself grace.
How do you summarize your year?
While you are answering some of these reflection questions, understand that summing up 365 days is not a small task.
As a writer and aspiring novelist, every time I write a blog post, I have to remember to be brief! So when you summarize your year, imagine “making a resume” for your year.
Instead of letting one bad memory taint the whole year, think about your year as a whole. As a string of moments with each one connected to the next.
And if your year was littered with tough circumstances, focus on where you were before the year began and who you are now. Chances are, you’ve learned and grown in a positive way. If not, make a commitment to reflect and write down your lessons learned.
Questions for New Year Intentions
Once you’ve mused over the reflection questions, you’re probably ready to set your new year intentions. Notice I did not say resolutions. Why set intentions instead of resolutions?
I prefer to set new year intentions over new year resolutions because resolutions are too concrete. It’s easy to get discouraged and disappointed when we don’t achieve our resolutions, even if something out of our control prevents us from achieving them.
3 Examples of New Years Intentions
In 2020, my focus word for the year and new year intention was audacity. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines for my dreams and knew I needed to be bold and make them a reality. That’s the only reason you’re reading this blog here now!
Since January 2021, my idea of how the cleansing would happen has definitely changed. It was a hard year of having to let go of harmful relationships and draining commitments, getting off of social media, and saying no to some new things. But my new years intention has remained the same and has guided me throughout the year to stress less and simplify my life with joy.
Similarly, my word for 2022 (which was actually two words) was be separate. For this year, I also had an anchor verse: 2 Corinthians 6:17-18. In this passage, God invites us not only to be separate but also to allow Him to be our Heavenly Father.
I’m not sure how this new year intention has been evident in the past year. Looks like I need to spend some time answering reflection questions for 2022, too. 🙂
How to Do a New Years Writing Activity
My favorite way to settle on an intention for the new year is to find a list of questions to reflect on the past year (like the ones below). I usually pick 8 to 10 of them, depending on what I want to reflect on most. Then I set a timer and spend twenty to thirty minutes doing a free write.
During the free write, I try to hit all of the questions at least in part. Here, I go for quantity over quality to get as many thoughts on the page as possible. Even if I don’t respond to all of them completely, I have a great starting point for reflecting on the past year and setting my new year intentions.
Promptly Journals has great options for these new years activities and writing prompt exercises, including self-care journals, gratitude journals, and remembrance journals.
11 New Year Reflection Questions for Setting Intentions
To settle on a new years intention, complete a new years writing activity. During this activity, you should ask yourself questions for new year intentions and questions to reflect on the past year.
These 11 reflection questions will help you pick a word or phrase to guide you, inspire you, and motivate you, in the new year.
- What one word would you use to describe your past year?
- If you had an ideal year, how would you describe it?
- In what ways do you want to grow this year?
- What’s one thing that went badly or that you wish you’d handled differently last year?
- How can you learn from that moment? What would you change going forward? (Question 4)
- What character trait or skill would you like to develop more?
- What has God been teaching you?
- How can you lean into that lesson more?
- What would it look like to grow more in that area?
- How has God been speaking to you and what has He revealed to your heart about the future?
- What did you struggle with last year that you want to conquer or embrace this year?
- A long journey starts with one step. When you think of your goals, what would the first step be to work toward them?
- In what areas of your life do you feel momentum building?
After you answer these questions, if you’re still stumped, check out this list of weekly focus ideas. Perhaps you’ll find a word that you love and that perfectly encompasses how you want to direct your year! Otherwise, the list may help you brainstorm other focus words for new year intentions.
Other End of Year Questions and Activities to Reflect on the Past Year
Quizzing yourself isn’t the only way to reflect on the past year. While I feel like it’s a great place to start in order to organize your thoughts, I’ve also done other end of year reflection activities to help me reflect, like some of the activities below.
20 End of Year Journal Prompts
As you reflect to prepare for the new year, take time to respond to end of year journaling prompts. In addition to self reflection and year in review questions, journal prompts aid in getting your thoughts down. With journaling prompts, what you write is less about answering the question and more about processing your feelings about the past year.
With the 2022 reflection prompts, there is never a right answer nor a wrong answer, but they do get the gears in your brain turning.
These open ended journal prompts leave room for much more soul searching and reflective thinking than the year end reflection questions.
2022 Reflection Prompts & Journal Prompts
- Ways I bloomed
- Places I went
- People I met
- Friendships that grew
- New friendships I made
- How I spent my vacation time
- Things on my Bucket List I crossed off
- Goals I achieved
- New goals I want to achieve
- What surprised me
- What I celebrated
- What I cried over
- What challenged me
- New things I learned
- What made adulting hard
- Things that brought me joy
- My favorites (Songs, Albums, Movies, Books, Artists, etc)
- What made this year special
- Major life milestones
- How God worked in my life
Using the End of Year Journal and Writing Prompts
At the end of the year, I use these journal reflection prompts to reflect and reminisce on days past. They are great December Journal and Writing Prompts, but you can use them at anytime!
Here are some different ways to use these 2022 reflection prompts:
- List Method – Personally, I take these prompts and start jotting down bullets of phrases, words, and short sentences to make a list underneath each journal prompt.
- Discuss with Friends – If you’re in a group, you may want to ask them out loud and discuss them together.
- Pen and Paper – If you’ve got a pen and a blank piece of paper, you can write them in your journal and scribble down your thoughts.
If there is another mode of creative expression that you prefer, you can use that, too. I’ve included some suggestions in the new year reflection activities below.
6 Example End of Year Reflection Activities
Besides journal prompts, they are many other ways to reflect on the year, such as these creative end of year reflection activities:
- Poem – Write a short poem or haiku to express how you feel about the year overall.
- Scrapbook – Take a couple of artifacts that you’ve gathered during the year and make a scrapbook or collage.
- Photo albums – Print some of your favorite photos from the year and put them in frames or hang them from a string of lights across a wall in your house. Photo albums are nice, too!
- Video Reflection – If you have some basic video editing skills, you can take your favorite pictures and put them in a slideshow to some of your favorite music. Or, if you often take videos on your phone, see if you can put them together into a short video.
- Playlist – Make a 2021 playlist with a soundtrack of songs that describe your year. Start with 12 songs – one for every month, and then build from there.
- Make a Map – Draw a map of the places you went this year the were meaningful to you and what happened there. This has always been an enlightening activity for me. One, because I realize how terrible I am at geography, and two, because I’m always surprised at what makes it on the map and why.
End of Year Reflection Worksheet (free printable!)
I’ve created an end of year reflection worksheet so you can start your reflection and set your new year intentions. This FREE printable includes a list of my favorite end of year questions to ask yourself mentioned in this post.
It also has the list of free writing topics and journal prompts and space to respond to the prompts. As a bonus, I’m including my questions to help you set your new year intentions, too.
Reflecting on the Past Year
Reflecting on the past year is an activity that is often overlooked. But just because it’s been overlooked in the past, doesn’t mean it has to be this year going into 2023. There is great benefit in taking time to reflect on all of the events that have occurred over the past year.
First of all, end of the year reflection questions helps us process our thoughts and feelings about the year. Secondly, new year reflection activities allows us to take what we learn from the reflection activities and set new year intentions.
Particularly when it comes to navigating the adulting struggle, questions for reflecting on the past year help us get our bearings again when the world knocks us down. It reminds us to be thankful for the last 365 days and excited for the 365 days to come.
So, I hope these end of year reflection questions to ask yourself spark fruitful reflection and positive change for 2023!
How do you reflect at the end of the year?
Leave me a comment below!
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Featured Images: From the free photo library at Canva, created with Canva (2). Some end of year reflection questions were contributed by my Andorra best friends! Thank you guys! <3