New Year Reflection + Intention Setting

Looking Back to Move Forward: 2019 Reflection + Intention Setting  by Hannah Aylward

Article originally published on Yoga Today January 1, 2019

It is that time of year when we start thinking about the new year ahead and reflect on our intentions.

What do we want the year to be like? What do we want to accomplish? How do we want to feel?


Where we want to go?

Flowers & Candle

So often we jump into planning ahead, thinking of all of the things that we need to do in the upcoming year. What can we “do better” next year? How can we “change”? What are we committing to doing differently?


I know that I personally fall into the group of people that is “always ready for what is next”, but it is just as important to look back and reflect on the year that is coming to an end. I rarely pause to appreciate and reflect on what I have accomplished and worked through. It is often easier to just “keep going”. However, it is important to really take some time to reflect on the past. Chances are, you have grown much more than you are giving yourself credit for. That alone can shift your goals and ideas for the upcoming year.


Reflecting on your past year also helps provide you with a measure of self-awareness and understanding of how you got to where you are now, whether that is where you want to be or not. It gives you data to evaluate the decisions you made and the whys and hows of the last year.


Sometimes we need to look back to move forward. So take a step back and review.


As you think about the past year, if negative thoughts start to creep in, sit with them for a moment, and really feel through them. Then bring your attention back to the positive. Be gentle with yourself. Let your thoughts and feelings flow freely. Let this exercise feel sacred. Give yourself 30 minutes and get rid of any distractions.


For the first few minutes, simply let your mind wander back on the year.

  • What were the happiest moments?

  • What were the saddest moments?

  • What was the best part of the year?

  • Did you start a new job?

  • When did you cry the loudest?

  • When did you laugh the hardest?

  • What type of movie would your last year be - drama, action film, maybe a rom-com?

  • How was your health?

  • What was the underlying theme of your year?

  • If you could describe the year with one word, what would it be?

  • How did you do financially?

  • What projects did you enjoy working on? What projects did you hate working on?

  • What was the most difficult thing that you dealt with this year?

  • What was something that you found yourself doing that you do NOT want to do again this year (maybe working on the weekends, doing unfulfilling work, going to parties in fear of missing out)?


Next, try writing down one accomplishment from each area of your life: personal, professional, romantic, physical (dealing with your physical body), spiritual life, and financial.


Now, let’s look ahead.


After you have all of this information, you are bound to feel some sense of clarity. NOW you can begin to plan for the new year.


Close your eyes, and think of what you want life to look like next. Don’t feel limited by time or money or fear. Get clear on exactly what you want. And dream big. Let it bring a smile to your face.


Next, write down one goal for each area in the coming year. Pick something for the personal, professional, romantic, physical, spiritual, and financial areas of your life. Try to keep them simple and executable, not so much “big ideas” that may take multiple years. Set yourself up for success here.


Finally, pick one word to help guide your next year. This is something I personally do every year and I love it. I come up with my word and come back to it often, using it as a guide throughout the year. What are you trying to cultivate in this upcoming year? Two of my past words have been courage and consistency. My word for 2019 is growth. Your word does not have to be as serious as mine either. It could be fun, adventure, or laugh. Whatever feels right for you, let it come through.