Don’t forget this step before setting your goals for 2024

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2024 is just a few days away. Can you believe it?

This means that it’s time to make new year’s resolutions once again and set new targets for the coming year. But before you start listing down all your plans and goals, take a moment to self-reflect.

What is self-reflection?

Self-reflection means evaluating or seriously thinking about various aspects of your life. You can do it on two levels:

  1. General or macro level – Taking a look at where you are in your life and where you’re headed. You ask the following questions: Is the path you’ve taken or the progress you’ve made in line with your goals? Do you like yourself, what you’ve become, and where you’re headed?
  2. The micro level – Assessing your responses to specific circumstances and events.

Self-reflection is a process. It can take several steps to come up with an authentic evaluation. You have to think back on your thoughts, attitudes, motivations, and desires from the past. You will also have to deal with questions that can be hard to answer. It takes honesty, an open mind, and a desire to make a change.

Self-reflection can also be done in different ways. Some people meditate, write on a journal, or ask the help of a counsellor or therapist. In this article, we’ll suggest two practical ways to do it with the help of some exercises.

Why self-reflect?

Socrates said that “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

A bit harsh but you’d have to agree that it’s necessary to make some sort of inventory of your potentials, attitudes, and feelings to see whether you have the capacity to carry out your plans and resolutions. More importantly, self-reflection can make you aware of the root causes of your feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, feelings of emptiness, or anything that is stopping you from reaching your full potential.

Why introspection matters, The School of Life

An important thing to remember about self-reflection (as well as planning and making resolutions) is that these are steps towards making a change for the better. As life coach Oliver Cowlishaw said, “inner work is important but it is only a distraction when it is not coupled with action.”

Some practical ways to self-reflect:

The Life Satisfaction Chart

In this exercise, rate each of the following areas of your life on a scale of one to 10 (with one meaning “least satisfied” and 10 “extremely satisfied”). You can have your own criteria for each area to define satisfaction for you. You can note your reasons for deciding on the rating as well. The areas are:

  • You
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Career
  • Emotions
  • Competencies
  • Fun
  • Spirituality
  • Technology

When you’re done, pay attention to the areas you scored 4, 5, 6, or 7. These are the ones where your satisfaction is average and you have room for improvement. You can examine further why you think so and what you want to do to move them up to 10.

The 10 questions

This requires being radically honest with yourself. Write down your answers and don’t let anyone read them! Evaluate these answers when you’re done.

Best self-discovery questions to ask yourself: 10 Self-reflection prompts, Oliver Cowlishaw

The questions:

  1. What do I really believe?
  2. Who do I admire and why?
  3. What do I envy in others?
  4. What parts of myself about do I struggle to accept?
  5. What was I like as a child?
  6. What were the times in my life when I felt truly alive?
  7. If was going to die in one year, how would I spend my time?
  8. If I could change anything in my past, what would it be?
  9. Is there anything right now that I am not expressing?
  10. If it was guaranteed that nobody else would suffer – how would you behave differently?

Give yourself some time to do these exercises and you’ll see that resolution-setting will become easier and more meaningful this year. Good luck and happy new year!

Sources: Self-reflection 101, Holstee; Tools to help you with self-reflection, Blaz Kos, Agile Lean Life; and 15 essential ways to practice self-reflection, Minimalism Made Simple. Accessed December 15, 2021.

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