As the year comes to close, we tend to look back and assess the progress we’ve made towards our goals and set new ones. But because of negative biases in our thinking we’re more likely to focus on what we haven’t done rather than what we have, or on how we’ve stagnated rather than how we’ve grown. This can lead us down a path of self-criticism and negativity that can undercut our motivation to move forward. SO, in the spirit of the new year, instead of focusing on shortcomings and unattained goals, let’s shift the focus. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
What were the major accomplishments of 2022? What were the steps to make them happen?
Focus on the accomplishments that had the most positive impact on your life and/or were catalysts for other positive changes. Maybe it was relocating to a new city, starting a new job, or taking up an new hobby. How did these accomplishments reflect your values and advance your long-term interests as part of creating the life you want?
As you write down the necessary steps for each accomplishment, you may begin to see certain themes emerge like willingness to get out of your comfort zone or to take a risk.
What were the trends to continue?
Even if you didn’t achieve certain goals, it’s important to acknowledge the incremental progress you’ve made towards them and reframe them as trends to continue. If you’re single, maybe you didn’t find the love of your life last year, but there was an improvement in the quality of your dating relationships. What were the activities that increased positive emotions and your sense of well being? These are trends to continue.
What were the trends to discontinue?
Look for repeated patterns in thinking, behavior or emotional responding that were associated with negative outcomes. Maybe you said yes to things you really didn’t want to do, or procrastinated too much or spent excessive time binge watching Netflix. These are trends to discontinue.
So finish strong! Answering these questions provides the framework for a constructive year-end review with a plan for continued growth in 2023.
Dr. Lisa Napolitano is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other mindfulness-based treatments. A licensed psychologist in New York and Florida, she is the Founder and Director of CBT/DBT Associates, a boutique psychology practice group. Dr. Napolitano is an expert in the treatment of stress, anxiety, worry, and emotion regulation problems. She has specifically designed her treatment approach for executives, attorneys, and other high-functioning individuals whom she believes shouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers to manage their stress and work on developing their potential.