People have been telling me this entire year “I just want 2020 to be over,” as if December 31st would reset all of our circumstances and we’d be able to put everything that happened this year behind us. Could it be that simple?
No matter what the year, I’m not trying to wish the days away, but I do agree that there is something special about the end of a year, reflecting on things past, and starting a new chapter as the calendar resets. So whether you’re yearning for the end of 2020 or not, before the next year begins, I suggest reflecting on the past year. To help, I’ve compiled some thoughtful end of year questions to ask yourself as you reflect and set your new year intentions.
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Questions to Reflect on the Past Year and Set New Year Intentions
Before we get started with the end of year reflection questions to ask yourself, I have a question that is more important than the 35 questions and topics I’ll cover in this post.
How does God fit into your reflection time?
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. So to answer my own question, I’d say, God fits into my end of year reflect 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, remembering 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 it is 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.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
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. 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.
Reflection helps us move forward instead of letting the past weigh us down because we can process the events of the year and the emotions that went along with it.
Additionally, reflection activities help us form a new vision for where we want to go next. That’s why you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been!
So, how do you do a personal end year review?
There are many ways to do a personal end year review, but I encourage you to find the one that works for you. Later in this post, I’ll give you some more ideas and resources for self reflection activities, journal prompts, an end of year reflection worksheet, and end of year activities to help you turn the page. These are activities you can do with friends, with family, or during your personal me time.
Whenever and wherever you do it, make sure it’s in an environment where you can be honest and vulnerable. Above all, stay encouraged, remembering that no one is perfect and that God does not expect perfection from us. He just wants us to seek Him and look to Him for guidance and wisdom.
God extends His grace to us, so no matter what your personal end of year reflection activity may uncover, remember His grace, and don’t be too hard on yourself. We learn and we grow as we navigate the adulting struggle.
Now let’s begin! Bring on the reflection questions!
End of Year Questions to Ask Yourself during your Reflection
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.
If this post had fine print, it would say “Use as needed.”
One of the most powerful times of reflection I did was in 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 now.
“Year in Review” Questions to Summarize Your Past Year
First up, here are some question that will help you do a “year in review” and summarize the past year:
- 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? (An event, a memory, a change, etc.)
- How did the year surprise you? What went as expected?
- What are the biggest events that happened to you this year?
- What significant life events or transitions did you go through this year?
Self Reflection Questions to Ask Yourself Honestly
Remember that honesty and vulnerability that I talked about earlier? Here are some more self reflection questions that are a bit more personal, but necessary to ask yourself during an end of year reflection. This will guide you in setting new year intentions.
- What accomplishments are you proud of this year?
- What mistakes are you still holding onto from the past year?
- Are there consequences you are still carrying?
- How would you rate your health this year?
- Emotionally, mentally, physically?
- What character trait did you develop most over the past year?
- What excited you this past year?
- What disappointed you this past year?
Other Must Have Yearly Reflection Questions
This next group of questions, I consider a “must have” when it comes to yearly reflection questions. This set of thoughtful self reflection questions might leave you scratching your head a little bit, but they are important for leaving the past in the past and moving forward:
- 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?
- How have you changed over the year?
- What 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?
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, I remember countless times having to shorten my essays and fiction stories to fit the page or word limit. Sometimes it can be hard to be brief!
So when you summarize your year, think about it as making a resume for your year.
Hit the highlights, grab the moments that stood out the most to you, and don’t get caught up in the tiny details.
Think about your year as a whole, as a string of moments where each one is connected to the next. Don’t let one bad memory taint the whole year.
And even if your year was littered with bad 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.
BONUS: Questions for New Year Intentions
After musing over some of these reflection questions, you may be ready to set your new year intentions. I prefer to set new year intentions over new year resolutions because resolutions are so concrete. It’s easy to get discouraged and disappointed if we don’t achieve our resolutions, even if something out of our control prevents us from achieving them.
With a new year’s intention, we are only setting our direction for the year. It’s as if we’re picking a guiding principle or word that we want to encompass our year. In 2020, the word I chose was audacity because I no longer want to live in fear and instead wanted to find the boldness and courage to chase after my dreams.
My dreams however, have changed, since January 2020, but my new years intention has remained the same and has guided me throughout the year to overcome fear.
New Years Writing Activity
To help you settle on a new years intention, do a new years writing activity and ask yourself some questions for new year intentions.
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), pick ten of them, and then spend twenty to thirty minutes doing a free write.
I try to hit all of the questions at least in part, and 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.
Questions for New Year Intentions
These 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, what one word would you use to 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?
- How can you learn from that moment?
- What would you change going forward?
- What character trait or skill would you like to develop more?
- What has God been teaching you?
- How has God been speaking to you and what has He revealed to your heart about the future?
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.
End of Year Journal Prompts
In addition to self reflection and year in review questions, it may be helpful as you reflect at the end of the year to also respond to some journaling prompts. With journaling prompts, what you write is less about answering the question and more about processing your feelings about the past year.
These open ended journal prompts leave room for much more soul searching and reflective thinking. There is never a right answer nor a wrong answer, but they do get the gears in your brain turning.
List of Journal and Writing Prompts
- Ways I Bloomed this Year
- Places I Went this Year
- People I Met this Year
- Friendships that Grew this Year
- New Friendships I Made this Year
- How I spent my Vacation time this Year
- Things on my Bucket List I crossed off this Year
- Goals I Achieved
- New Goals I want to Achieve
- What Surprised me this Year
- What I Celebrated this Year
- What I Cried over this Year
- Things that Brought Me Joy this Year
- What Made this Year Special
- How God worked in my life this Year
Using the (December) Journal and Writing Prompts
At the end of the year, I use these journal prompts to reflect and reminisce on the days past. These are great December Journal and Writing Prompts, but you can use these journal prompts anyway you wish and at anytime!
If you’re in a group, you may want to ask them out loud and discuss them together. If you’ve got a pen and a blank piece of paper, you may want to write them down and scribble down your thoughts. If there is another way of creative expression that you prefer, you can use that, too.
Personally, I take these prompts and start jotting down bullets of phrases, words, and short sentences to make a list underneath each journal prompt.
End of Year Reflection Activities
Besides journal prompts, here are a couple of ideas to help you reflect on the year and other creative end of year reflection activities:
- Write a short poem or haiku to express how you feel about the year overall.
- Take a couple of artifacts that you’ve gathered during the year and make a scrapbook or collage.
- 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!
- 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.
End of Year Reflection Worksheet (free printable!)
For this post, I’ve created an end of year reflection worksheet to help you get started on your reflection and set your new year intentions. This printable (which is completely FREE by the way) includes a list of all of the end of year questions to ask yourself that I’ve mentioned in this post. It also has the list of free writing topics and journal prompts to help you reflect.
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 there is great benefit in taking time to process all of the events that have occurred and our thoughts and feelings about those events.
Particularly when it comes to navigating the adulting struggle, questions for reflecting on the past year and year end reflection activities can 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.
I hope these end of year questions to ask yourself spark fruitful reflection and positive change!
As you reflect on the past year, be gracious to yourself. Because adulting is hard, but you’re killing it! 😉
How do you reflect at the end of the year?
Leave me a comment below!
More posts from the Living & Adulting Categories:
- How to Handle Adulting with Flair and Faith
- Adulting Life Truths – Because Adulting is Hard
- Personal Goals for a Woman in Her 20s
- The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself
Featured Images: From Pixabay, created with Canva (1). From the free photo library at Canva, created with Canva (2). Some questions contributed by my Andorra best friends! Thank you guys! <3
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