70 End of Year Reflection Questions, Prompts, and Activities

End of Year Reflection Questions are important because they highlight the areas of our lives where we’ve found success and the areas where we may need to improve. Without a year end review, we are prone to repeat mistakes. We stay stagnant because we can’t process the events of the year and the emotions that went along with it.

Instead of letting the past weigh us down, reflection helps us move forward. Reflection activities help us form a new vision for the next year and where we want to go next. In other words, you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been!

Now that we know personal reflection is important, here are 70+ reflection questions, prompts, and activities to start your end of year reflection.

young professional woman or graduate student with coffee cup writing about end of year reflection questions in her journal

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End of Year Reflection

When is the perfect time to reflect?

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. 

Whether you use them at the end of the academic year or throughout the course of the year, the time of year doesn’t matter.

Reflection Prompts can be used as end of semester reflection questions, student reflection questions, or journal prompts for processing any life changes (big and small).  

How do you summarize your year?

Instead of letting one bad memory taint the whole year, think about your last year as a whole. As a string of moments with each one connected to the next. 

Hit the highlights, grab the moments that stood out the most to you, and don’t get caught up in the tiny details.

How to do a Year End Reflection

And if your year was littered with hard times, then 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 from the past year’s biggest challenges.

Now, I’ve rounded up 39 thoughtful end-of-year reflection questions, journal prompts, and activities to use for your personal reflection.

Planning Your End of Year Reflection Time

How to do an end of year reflection?

There are many ways to do a personal end of year reflection. Here is a brief outline of steps to take when planning and doing an end of the year reflection.

  1. Pick a time and place.
    • Pick a place where you can be honest and vulnerable. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Gather questions to ask yourself for self reflection and new years reflection activities. 
    • Take suggestions from this list of reflection questions and end of year journal prompts or come up with your own.
  4. Start by being thankful to God.
    • An end of year reflection should begin with being grateful for how far we’ve come! Because now you can reflect on the past year with grace and compassion for yourself and thankfulness to God.
  5. Next, use the reflection and journal prompts to warm up.
    • Brainstorm any and all ideas that you have related to each prompt or question.
  6. Go Deeper with the themes in your answers.
    • The next step is to think more deeply about the themes in your reflection answers. What surprised you? What will you do with what you’ve learned?

9 Self-Reflection Questions to Summarize Your Past Year

The first step of reflection is summarizing the last year.  Begin with “year in review” questions to help you ponder the most important things over the year. 

  1. How did you begin this year? How do you want to end it?
  2. What sentence or phrase sums up your year?
  3. What one word would you use to describe your year?
  4. What sticks out to you most about the past year?
    1. For example, an event, a memory, a change, a big accomplishment, or a milestone.
  5. How did the year surprise you? What things went as expected?
  6. What are the biggest events or headlines from this year?
  7. What significant life events or transitions did you go through this year?
  8. If this year were a milestone on a project plan, what would the milestone be?
  9. How will you protect the meaningful moments and memories that you’ve created this year?

12 Important End of Year Reflection Questions

This next set of self reflection questions are more personal. They require honesty and vulnerability. But honesty here will guide you in setting new year intentions and starting the new year strong.

  1. What accomplishments are you proud of this year?
  2. Which of those is your biggest accomplishment and why?
  3. What daily habit led you to accomplish that? (Question 2) 
  4. Big goals are accomplished in smaller goals, which are accomplished with a new habit(s).
  5. What mistakes are you still holding onto from the past year?
  6. Why are those mistakes hard for you to let go of?
  7. How did you take care of yourself this year?
    1. Emotionally, mentally, physically?
  8. What character trait did you develop most over the past year?
  9. In your personal life and professional life?
  10. What character trait did you rely on or practice the most this year? (Examples: patience, forgiveness, courage, hope, joy, thankfulness)
  11. What new skills did you learn this year, professional development or otherwise?
  12. What excited you this past year?
  13. What disappointed you this past year?
  14. What is the first word or thought that comes to mind when you think of the past year?

11 Reflection Questions for Tough Moments & Challenges

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. 

You are not defined by one singular moment in your year. Nor is this year or the rest of your life defined by a single moment–as long as you don’t let it.

 Learn from your experiences and move on. The next year is a fresh start, and so is the present moment.
  1. What have you not done this year that you wish you had?
  2. What did you learn this year about the world? About yourself?
  3. What is the most important lesion you learned this year? 
  4. What do you wish you had known at the start of the year? Why? 
  5. What would you have done differently if you have known that? (Question 4)
  6. How have you changed over the year?
  7. What challenges have you overcome this year?
  8. What challenges do you still need to conquer?
  9. How did where you start this year compare to now?
  10. What new challenges did you face in relationships this year?
  11. Moving forward, how do you think you could build better relationships?

25 End of Year Writing Prompts

Quizzing yourself isn’t the only way to reflect on the past year. End of Year writing prompts help you get your thoughts down, too. 

These open ended journal prompts leave room for much more soul searching and reflective thinking. It’s less about answering the question and more about processing your feelings about the past year.
  1. Ways I bloomed
  2. Places I went
  3. People I met
  4. Friendships that grew
  5. New friendships I made
  6. How I spent my vacation time
  7. Things on my Bucket List I crossed off
  8. Goals I achieved
  9. New goals I want to achieve
  10. Good things
  11. Bad Experiences
  12. What surprised me
  13. What I celebrated
  14. What I cried over
  15. What challenged me
  16. New things I learned
  17. Meaningful conversations I had
  18. Difficult conversations I had
  19. Biggest impact moments
  20. What made adulting hard
  21. Things that brought me joy
  22. My favorites (Songs, Albums, Movies, Books, Artists, etc)
  23. What made this year special
  24. Major life milestones
  25. How God worked in my life

3 Simple Writing Activities for End of Year Reflection

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 any time!

Here are some different ways to use these 2022 reflection prompts:

  1. List Method (digital version) –  Take these prompts and put them in a table in a word processer. Then jot down bullets of phrases, words, and short sentences to make a list underneath each journal prompt. 
  2. Discuss with Friends – If you’re in a group, you may want to ask them out loud and discuss them together. 
  3. 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. 

Promptly Journals has great options for these new years activities and writing prompt exercises, including self-care journals, gratitude journals, and remembrance journals.

Shop Promptly Journals for all Your Holiday Gifts!
Shop our New Weathering My Emotions Journal at Promptly Journals

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:

  1. Poem – Write a short poem or haiku to express how you feel about the year overall.
  2. Scrapbook – Take a couple of artifacts that you’ve gathered during the year and make a scrapbook or collage.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. Playlist – Make a playlist with a soundtrack of songs that describe your year. Start with 12 songs – one for every month, and then build from there.
  6. Make a Map – Draw a map of the places you went this year that were meaningful to you. 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. 

New Year’s Resolutions or New Year’s Intentions?

Once you’ve mused over the reflection questions, you’re probably ready to set your new year intentions. Why set intentions instead of resolutions?

Should I set new year’s resolutions for next year?

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.

With a new year’s intention, we are only setting a direction for the year. We’re picking a guiding principle or word that we want to encompass our year and leaving room for improvisation and the unexpected.

Now, this does not bypass creating new goals. In fact, once you pick a new year’s intention, it’s important to set goals.

But if you set goals in the right way, they won’t be overwhelming or unrealistic. They will be tailored to your intentions and uniquely crafted for your intentions for the year.  

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!
  • Skipping 2022, my word for 2023 was eternity. I wanted to stop letting past mistakes weigh me down and worry over the future cause anxiety. Instead, I challenged myself to be more mindful of the present and look ahead to eternity. In both of those places, I felt more connected to God and aware of his presence. 

13 Reflection Questions for New Year’s Intentions

Now it’s your turn to set a new year’s intention. The following questions should help you pick a word or phrase to guide you, inspire you, and motivate you in the new year. 

  1. What one word would you use to describe your past year?
  2. If you had an ideal year, how would you describe it?
  3. How do you want the beginning of the year to start?
  4. In what ways do you want to grow this year?
  5. What would it look like for you to own your own growth?
  6. What’s one thing that went badly or that you wish you’d handled in a better way last year?
  7. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from that moment? What would you change going forward? (Question 6)
  8. What character trait or skill would you like to develop more?
  9. What has God been teaching you?
    1. How can you lean into that lesson more? 
    1. What would it look like to grow more in that area?
  10. How has God been speaking to you and what has He revealed to your heart about the future?
  11. What did you struggle with last year that you want to conquer or embrace this year?
  12. A long journey starts with one step. When you think of your goals, what would the first step be to work toward them?
  13. In what areas of your life do you feel momentum building?
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! 

End of Year Reflection Worksheet

This end of year reflection worksheet is for starting your reflection and setting your new year intentions. The FREE printable includes a list of end of year questions to ask yourself. 

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.

a mockup of the pages in the free end of year reflection questions worksheet

Final Thoughts on Reflection and Personal Growth

Remember that 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 2023 (or any year and season), we have an excellent opportunity to:

During your personal reflection, I challenge you to adopt a growth mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset apply their lessons learned. 

They commit to do things in different ways next time. They dare to step outside their comfort zone. They look to the coming year with hope instead of letting the past weigh them down. 

Reflecting on the Past Year

Reflecting on the past year is an activity that is often overlooked. But taking time to reflect on the events that have occurred over the past year has a positive impact on us and our mental health.

First of all, end of the year reflection questions helps us process our thoughts and feelings about the year. Secondly, new year reflection activities allow 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 to God for the last 365 days and excited for the 365 days to come.

As you reflect on the past year, be gracious to yourself. Because adulting is hard, but you’re killing it! 😉 

May these end of year reflection questions spark fruitful reflection and positive change for next year!

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

4 thoughts on “70 End of Year Reflection Questions, Prompts, and Activities”

  1. Thank you so so much for this blog post
    It’s taken me a couple weeks but I’ve gone through most of these questions and it’s added clarity to this year where there was once confusion. I’m looking forward to exploring your other posts but thank you for being obedient to what God has called for your life because it’s a blessing to others!

    1. Hi Fejiro, It’s so encouraging to hear that this blog post helped you. Reflection is such a powerful tool to help us process our emotions and have the courage to move forward into the next year. I hope you’ll be able to do that as we move into 2022.
      Also, thank you for your encouragement. I never know who God may impact through what I write, but it’s a blessing to know you have been impacted. Best Wishes!

  2. Hi Kara,
    As it’s now end of December, I just googled “end of year reflection questions” and yours was the first article I clicked on! I love these questions and I’ve used a lot of them for my own 2021 reflection, so thank you.
    I have also since started exploring your other blog posts and will probably continue to do so for the next few days. So far, I am loving your writing , content, bible verses and good vibes. And it’s refreshing to hear the perspective of someone in a similar stage of life. I am a recent tech graduate and working in corporate consulting in Australia 🙂
    Wishing you all the best for 2022! God bless you.
    Megan

    1. Hey Megan! I was so happy to read your comment. I get so excited when I am able to connect with someone in a similar stage of life. I’m glad you enjoyed the reflection questions and all the other content, and I hope it encourages you in this season of life. 🙂
      Also I’m a consultant, too. Wild we have that in common also, lol.
      Happy New Year! Cheers!
      ~KJL

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