The end of a year is a special time. It’s an opportunity to pause, reflect and appreciate the year gone by. Our bullet journals hold so much information that we can use, to dig deeper into our reflection process.
Just like morning and evening reflection clears your mind and provides focus; year end reflection can have a similar effect. I use it to review and simplify my goals, my bullet journalling process and my life in general. Focussing on simplification, helps me pull out the weeds and focus on what I want to bloom.
The first step for me, is a flip-through of my journal. Our journals hold information on what we were doing, feeling and prioritising throughout the year. I like to go through each and every page/collection, to see what worked and what didn’t. What worked for my life, along with what worked in my bullet journal.
I jot these down in a newly created collection at the end of my notebook. This spread is dedicated to annual migration.
I make 3 lists in this spread: things to keep, things to throw and things to add. Through this process, my bullet journal setup for the new year, begins to take shape.
My annual mood and wellness trackers always work well for me. I set up these trackers once in the new year, and can keep track of moods and wellness activities without having to create new trackers every month. I also like to see this data for the whole year, on one page. Even if these spreads aren’t fully completed (some months I don’t keep up with tracking), these trackers are still valuable to me. They always go on the “keep” list.
On the other hand, there are lists in my journal that I have never used! I have headers for a Wish List and Expense tracker, that I didn’t end up writing anything in at all. I liked the idea of writing a wish list (so I can budget for new purchases), but I realised I’m not a huge shopper, so a wish list isn’t really for me. I’ve also created spreads that I’ve never looked at again, like a “Master Groceries List”. It was fun to create, but I usually add to my virtual shopping list via Alexa and have all of my favourites already saved in my online groceries portal. It’s not actually very useful having it in my journal. This one would go on the “throw” list.
It’s worth thinking about whether new apps or technology have replaced the need for a collection in your journal. Another one I have removed from my journal is my content calendar. My content is planned in an app called Notion, which works better for me than planning it on paper. I rarely look to my journal for content planning now. Instead, I prefer to use it for brainstorming content ideas.
Reflecting and building out thoughts, are things I love to use my journal for.
For things to add, I often feel like including spreads that I’ve done in previous years and missed this year. For example, I don’t have a tracker for movies I’ve watched in 2021. Looking through my journal now, I wish I did have this next to my Book Tracker so I can see all of the films I enjoyed this year. That goes on the “add” list. I’d also like to add an Ideal Habits list, to remind me of the habits I would like to maintain throughout the year. This is something I did in 2020 and not for 2021. Flicking through older journals often helps me identify spreads I want back again.
Next, I move onto my favourite part of annual reflection: reflecting on triumphs and refinements.
To achieve this, I set up a new spread for year-end reflection, dedicated to
- appreciating successes and
- understanding improvements
Focussing on just these 2 prompts, keeps the process simple and keeps it from feeling overwhelming. This is exactly what I need when I’m thinking about a whole year of experiences and lessons learnt.
Being aware of your triumphs and taking the time to appreciate them, leaves you feeling positive and energised. What better way to start a new year than with a positive mindset?
Generally, we find it very easy to remember negative events or feelings. We can easily miss all of the good stuff, if we don't take the time to be mindful of it.
I flick through my journal, calendar or any notes made throughout the year. I have a few annual collections that are helpful, like an annual mood tracker, annual wellness tracker, reading tracker, goals and monthly moments. There are also collections within my monthly setups that get my thinking about what I’m proud of or what went well.
Triumphs can be achievements or even things that have given you joy. They're all worth mentioning. They give you the positive energy you need, when setting up your intentions for the new year.
My triumphs range from practical accomplishments like creating an email newsletter dedicated to mindful reflection, or making a new product. To family things, like the quality time we've had together, or my son starting school. I also have behaviours that I’ve worked on, e.g. no longer linking my happiness with productivity. Or things that have given me joy, like reading books and journalling consistently.
The second part of the exercise is about what you want to improve, to help remove the excess from your life. Again, I look through my journal for clues and reflection prompts.
Think about the things that haven't served you as well as you would've liked. Removing projects or activities that no longer serve you, can create space in your mind and your life, for creativity, mindfulness and new opportunities.
Think about the things you should've said no to. And I don't necessarily mean no to other people, but to yourself too. I know there were certain projects and activities that I should've said no to from the start - just to myself.
This then comes together to form your refinements list.
The definition of refinement is the process of removing unwanted elements from a substance, or the improvement of something by making small changes. This is exactly what I’m after, because our lives and our experiences are complex, and can’t be seen purely in black or white. My bullet journal is where I explore the shades of grey.
Annual reflection can elevate your feelings of gratitude, and help you be more intentional with your energy going forward. This, combined with the "new year-fresh start" spirit, can set off a chain reaction of positive habits and events in the new year.
I’m in the process of gathering notes for my 2021 annual reflection and bullet journal migration, which I will share over on my blog and YouTube channel Reflect with Raksha. In the meantime, here’s the setup video for the triumph and refinements list I created last year.