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Journaling for Self Reflection: How to Write a Year In Review

Truth bomb alert: your year in review isn’t just for Christmas. It’s for life.

Sure, those final few weeks are a great reminder to reflect back on the year that’s gone by. But that doesn’t mean that Christmas is the only time for journaling for self-reflection. The opportunity is open for you to pick up that pen whenever you like.

Here’s how to get started.

2022 number candles

Why journal your year in review?

You don’t have to journal your year in review. You could type it out, talk it through or simply think back on your year instead. But it might be a good idea to pick up that pen. Here’s why.

Take a deep dive into your year

Want to gain a deep understanding of what the last 12 months meant to you, what happened and how you feel about it? That’s when reflective journal writing comes into play. This is your key to unlocking a deeper part of yourself. Studies have shown that writing can support deeper learning, better retention of information and deeper processing of thoughts.

Dip in (and then dip out)

When you journal your year in review, you can dip in and out of the process. Spend one day reflecting on the first half of the year, and then come back to review the second half a few days later when your energy allows. You don’t have to do it all at once!

Wander down memory lane

Hands up: who keeps their journals?

One of the best things about journaling your year in review is that it never disappears. You can start reviewing this year, before sneaking a quick peek at what you achieved the year before.

And we’re pretty confident that you’ll be surprised at just how far you’ve come in those 12 short months. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. You’re doing great, promise.

What you need to journal your year in review

Obviously, you don’t need a fancy set-up to get started with your year in review. But a space that feels good definitely helps. When you’re feeling calm and cosy, you’re going to be way happier sitting there and journaling for a few hours (and yes, snacks are a good idea).

Here are a few of our favourite things to include:

  • Your lined journal - we love a lined journal for our year in review. It’s easy to write in whilst still giving you the freedom and flexibility to journal your way
  • Your yearly planner - if you used a planner to track your goals, have it ready for your yearly reflection. You’ll want to look back at the intentions you set when the year began
  • Your favourite pen - you’re going to be doing a lot of writing, so you’ll need a pen that feels good in your hand. Choose a pen that’s nice to hold and easy to write with, so you can keep going until the words run out
  • Your comfiest corner - give yourself the gift of time, with the cosiest corner of your home. We want you to feel at ease, so you’re open to all the thoughts that are about to come your way
  • Your favourite playlist - get the tunes ready, it’s time to pick the soundtrack to your year in review!
A collection of different coloured journals on a blue background, surrounded by stationery

How to journal your year in review

Everyone has their own unique journaling style. This is our favourite way to journal for self-reflection, and it’s a great place to start if this is new to you. But if you’ve already got a process you love? Do that! (But be sure to take a peek at our prompts below first 👀)

  • Before you begin, take a moment to think about what you’d like to learn from this process. What are you looking to uncover? What puzzles are you hoping to figure out? Why are you doing this year in review?
  • Once you’re clear on why you want to reflect on your year, write out all the questions and prompts that are going to help you achieve that goal.
  • And now, it’s time to begin! Plan out a few reflection sessions and give yourself the ultimate gift of journaling in peace.

Journaling prompts for self-reflection

Step 1: Review your year’s goals

12 months ago, you started your year with a set of goals in mind. These might have been documented, set goals that you methodically worked to achieve. Or, they might have been more of a series of intentions or ideas for how you hoped the year would evolve.

Whatever they looked like, now’s your chance to go back in time and look back at those hopes. When you made them, you had no idea how the year would turn out. Now you know.

Inside our Power of 3 goal planner, we guide you through a series of prompts for your yearly goal reflections. We’ve included those below, so you can start your year in review with a practical reflection on what’s important, and what no longer matters.

  • Which goals were hit this year?
  • Which goals were missed?
  • Which goals are no longer important?
  • What is your new focus for the next year?

Step 2: Tune into how you feel about this past year

Now that you know what happened, it’s time to figure out how you feel about it. A few words of wisdom here: any emotion you experience is 100% valid. It might be that you’re frustrated that things didn’t go the way you planned. And that’s okay. Accept that.

At the same time, you might still feel happy with your year even though you missed your goals. This is also okay. Try not to think about how you “should” feel and instead reflect on what your mind is trying to tell you.

  • How did you feel as you worked towards your goals?
  • What did you crave more of in your year?
  • What did you crave less of in your year?
  • What made you feel supported along the way?
Year in Review journal prompts

Step 3: Reflect on any surprises that popped up

Every year has surprises. No matter how much we plan, how many goals we set, or how well we manage our time.. there’ll always be things that pop up unexpectedly.

Some are good. Some… less so. What’s important is how we handle them. These journaling prompts are designed to help you learn from your year’s surprises, so you can go into the next 12 months feeling more prepared than ever.

  • What happened this year that you didn’t expect?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did you feel about these surprises?
  • What did you learn about yourself as a result of this experience?
  • What was your proudest moment?

Step 4: Choose what you want to take with you (and what you want to leave behind)

This is a really empowering part of the reflection process. It puts you in control, as you choose what you’d like to take with you into the next year. Whilst selecting any hurdles that you’d like to leave behind.

  • What would you like to leave behind this year?
  • How can you support yourself to leave it behind?
  • What would you like to bring with you into the next year?
  • What could help you do this?
  • What new things, people or emotions would you like to invite into your new year?
  • How can you extend those invitations?

Step 5: Look forward to the next year

Just like that, we’ve gone full circle. All those lessons, all those reflections are now here to support you as you conjure up your big dreams for the year ahead.

If you’re finding it tricky to narrow down your goals, start by allowing yourself to dream big. Remove any limits from your imagination, and picture how you’d like your future to look. Then, break those dreams into smaller, more manageable goals.

  • How do you want next year to feel?
  • What do you want to have accomplished at the end of the year?
  • What feels realistic for you?
  • What can you control?
  • What can’t you control?
  • How can you break those goals down into milestones to achieve along the way?
    (We guide you through this process inside the Power of 3 🎯)

There you have it! Your guide to journaling for self-reflection, as you work through your year in review. Remember, take it step by step. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. And be sure to celebrate yourself along the way too. You’ve got this.

Get the journal for self-reflection