I used to dread year-end reflections.
I found them so tedious! While the outcome is interesting and groundbreaking for the upcoming year, they are also time-consuming and exhausting.
I didn't want to stop doing them because I always enjoyed the output. Those reflections gifted me with many insights about myself, about habits that are good or rather bad for me. True to the motto
Learn from yesterday,Albert Einstein
live for today,
hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Then, I stumbled upon a simpler method for year-end reflections. Yeah!
But you know what's even easier? Incorporating fun self-reflection questions!
Realizing that the ultimate results come from blending this straightforward approach with year-in-review questions, I'll guide you through the process in this post.
Hope you enjoy reading and answering these end-of-year questions.
Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you purchase through those links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.
Year-End Reflections: The HARD Way
My year-end reviews used to be energy-intensive for a good reason:
I'd sit down at the end of December, often directly on the 31st, armed with pen and paper, attempting to reconstruct my annual events from memory.
Fortunately, there are calendars to help with important dates! I got my partner involved right away; after all, his memory is better than mine.
So, we sat there for 2-3 hours, not exactly thrilled, doing loads of calendar scrolling and some serious thinking. In the end, we had a satisfying list, including the main events of the past year together – but what a hard way to get to it! Arrrgh!
Year-End Reflections: The EASY Way
Then: Eureka! I had a brilliant idea!
I immediately put it into practice.
Now, I record the most important events weekly, usually on Sundays. Only keywords typed on the PC. It’s done in no time at all, 10 minutes at the most!
By year's end, I have a 10- to 15-page summary of the year's events.
This is a fantastic overview of the past 12 months, handed on a silver platter as there is nothing left for me to do. (Except for indulging in a celebratory beverage and reading the reflections with pleasure, recalling the events of the past year in my mind’s eye).
My partner and I now eagerly anticipate this yearly summary, making it a cherished tradition.
It’s unbelievable what we forget over time! I’m amazed time and again how many events fit into just 12 months (and I'm talking about ANY year, not just the infamous 2020!)!
HOW Reflection Questions Help
She encourages everyone to borrow her list. That's exactly what I did, making a few changes to the order and phrasing of the questions.
There are a total of 30 questions.
Some questions are light and amusing (Favorite series?), while others are deep and thought-provoking (What's your highest wish right now?).
The questions offer a playful approach to the past year, illuminating different aspects of your experiences and feelings, much like a spotlight.
My 15-page keyword summary serves as raw material, providing facts—a solid foundation for gaining insights. Using the 30 questions on top of my keyword summary helped me distill the bottom line(s).
One surprising discovery for me was that I had the most to say (by far) for questions 1 and 28:
Question 1: Did you do something in <year> that you have never done before? Question 28: What are you most proud of?
For me, 2020 was indeed THE year of first times, like working completely in a home office since March or having 4 months off at a time. Radically decluttering was also on the list, and it goes on and on...
Interestingly, much of what challenged me filled me with pride once I tackled it. This year, I was prouder of myself than ever before!
Here's what I'm trying to say:
These 30 questions are a fantastic tool for taking stock of your year. They take you by the hand, set the pace, dance a waltz with you - and before you know it, you've gained a lot of surprising insights!
So, don't let this opportunity go to waste. Take some time to reflect, let the following questions guide you through your past 12 months, and look at the lessons you learned this (or last) year.
At the very end, you can find a bonus question. It’s the question of all questions!
30 (+1) FUN Reflection Questions
Here are my annual reflection questions.
The best part about them: They are general enough to use in a variety of settings.
You can employ them for self-reflection at the end of the year or as prompts for journaling.
I also love going through them with my partner or using them as end-of-the-year questions for friends.
If you're a teacher or a professor, they make fun questions to ask students at the end of the year.
- Did you do something that you have never done before?
- Did you make any major changes?
- What date from this year will you always remember?
- Did someone close to you die?
- Which countries did you visit?
- What was your best buy?
- Did something make you genuinely happy?
- Did you miss something this year that you want to pursue/experience/have the next year?
- What do you wish you'd done more?
- What do you wish you'd done less?
- Favorite series from the past year?
- Best book you read this year?
- Biggest music discovery?
- What was your biggest success at work?
- Greatest success in personal life?
- Biggest mistake?
- Were you happier or sadder this year compared to previous years?
- What did you spend the most money on?
- Something you wanted and got?
- Something you wanted and didn't get?
- What did you do on your birthday?
- What have you been the most grateful for?
- Is there anything that would have made your year even better?
- What made you feel good?
- Who did you miss?
- The best new people you’ve met?
- The best present you received?
- Most proud of?
- Highest wish right now?
- What are you going to do differently next year?
Here's the bonus question, the centerpiece of your annual reflections:
What is the most important lesson the year has taught you?
CARD DECKS With Reflection Questions
If you want to up your reflection game, try using reflection cards.
They help turn reflection into a fun game - whether you're chatting with friends, team-building at work, engaging in an end-of-year activity with your students, or delving into a solo self-discovery.
Number of questions: 150
Topic categories: Personal, Team, Education, Hobby, Future, Scenarios
Specific uses: Icebreaker and conversation starters, promotes personal growth, encourages collaboration
Tell Me More
Format: Game for 2
Number of questions: 52
Topic categories: Light, Deeper, Deeper Still
Specific uses: Encourages openness and self-expression, promotes self-reflection and growth, strengthens relationships. Can be used as a game for 2, or as question cards to get to know oneself better
We! Connect Cards
Number of questions: 60 (and 10+ activity descriptions)
Topic categories: Questions for Self-Reflection, Light Questions, Deeper Questions
Specific uses: Builds rapport and understanding, enhances communication skills, fosters inclusive environment
Holstee Reflection Cards
Number of questions: 100+
Topic categories: Kinship, Gratitude, Compassion, Adventure, Creativity, Resilience
Specific uses: Inspires gratitude and appreciation, promotes self-evaluation and growth, encourages meaningful connections
What's your favorite reflection question? Do you have a year-end ritual?
Wishing you planty of insightful and delightful year-end reflections,
Psst, you'll enjoy A Romanian start to the New Year and 3 Popular Board Games That'll WOW Your Mind & Eyes.