As we approach the end of 2011, I am all for setting our sites on a pleasurable and prosperous 2012. I know many people are due for a positive shift and the New Year can signal a fresh start, an opportunity to shake things up, and to set some goals for the future. But before you start your wish list, I encourage you to take a peek back on 2011.

Whether this past year was one of the best you’ve ever had, or it is one you’d rather forget, taking stock will aid you in smoother travels for all that lies ahead. We can liken it to building a house on a strong foundation, or to the business practice of taking inventory before purchasing—you must know what you have before you can make wise decisions about which areas to expand. Here are some questions you might ask yourself when reflecting back on 2011:


What did I accomplish this year?

I believe we can all look back and find at least one thing, big or small, that we are proud of. I encourage you to make note of it. We tend to be good score-keepers of all the things that didn’t go so well, so give yourself an opportunity to even out the list. Keeping track of things that went well is crucial if we want to continue building in that direction. This doesn’t mean that you have become a master at something, it means that you recognize a positive step, or that you can see some growth in a particular area. Come up with at least five things that you are proud of from 2011.

What am I grateful for?

Making this list is another important step for ushering in more goodness for 2012. Mine your own history for everything that makes you happy, humble, and honored. Think of all the times you laughed this past year, the people you laughed with, and all that you have been fortunate to experience. Be sure to write it all down and come up with at least ten things that you are grateful for.

What lessons did I learn?

I have personally experienced and witnessed a lot of growing pains in 2011. It was a challenging year in this regard, but I have also witnessed people coming out of their personal challenges with more self-esteem and clarity about who they are—and who they are not. They have grown more compassion for themselves and others, there is a sense that they will instinctively do things differently moving forward, and a feeling of abundance for all of the lessons learned. Where have you stretched this year, and what has it afforded you? Write down at least three things.

What might I have done differently?

I encourage you to look at this question with an eye toward balance, not beating yourself up. For example, take a look at your values. What is important to you and how do your values measure up with the space they fill in your life? What areas are fulfilled and what areas are neglected? Do family and friends take a back seat to work? Do finances trump your spiritual life? Did you give enough attention to health and well-being, personal relationships, or service work? Again, don’t judge yourself for any disparities you might find, we all struggle with balance and it’s not about achieving perfection. This is an opportunity to realign with your highest good and best intentions. Make note of any imbalances you recognize and how you’d like to do things different in 2012.

I hope that this exercise of reflection makes you realize what you are already capable of, the person you have grown to become, what you already have in life, and how you might continue to grow in a positive direction. From this vantage point, we don’t need to create a list of resolutions that will magically make us into another person entirely (with millions of dollars and a closet full of skinny jeans). We can see that we are a bridge, in this very moment, from our past to our future. The bridge is strong, with elaborate detail. It has weathered many storms and will continue to do so. Now look ahead at the other side . . . tell me what you see?

With a grateful heart, I wish each and every one of you All The Best in 2012.

Ingrid Mathieu, PhD is a psychotherapist and author of Recovering Spirituality. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.