End of Year Reflections: Thought-Provoking Prompts to Help You Reflect on 2021

njoie self reflect at the end of the year

And just like that, 2021 has come to an end. We all had hoped 2021 would be the year that things would “get back to normal.” Unfortunately... it didn’t quite turn out that way. Between new COVID variants and political turmoil, it’s turned out to be a pretty hectic year. But living through chaos can build resilience if one takes time to reflect on, learn from, and cope with their experiences. That’s why it’s important to look back and reflect on the last 12 months of our lives.  

If you’re thinking, “how the heck do I even begin to reflect on this crazy year?” It’s ok, we get it, it does seem like this year has been particularly jam-packed with prodigious events. That’s why we’re here to help! Get out your journal and start a guided reflection using this list of prompts: 

  • What are some good things that happened this year? 
    If you keep a planner or a digital calendar open it up and look back month by month. Write down each month in your journal as you go and think of at least one thing you’re grateful for that happened during each month of 2021. It doesn’t have to be something huge, just something you remember. If it’s hard to remember, scroll through your phone’s camera roll or your Instagram story archive to help those memories float back into your brain. Maybe you got a new job, or maybe you quit a job you hated. Did you make any new friends or learn anything new? Or maybe you just ate an exceptionally delicious bowl of ramen. Write about each memory in as much detail as you can. Channel your five senses. What did you see? What did you hear, smell, taste, or feel? Then think of how, and why, this moment impacted you so much. Reflecting on good memories helps you stay motivated so you can take on new challenges with optimism and confidence.  
  • What were some challenges you faced this year? 
    Use the strategy we outlined before to help you brainstorm, but instead of picking out happy moments experienced monthly, pick the top five biggest challenges you faced this year, and how you overcame them. This process may bring some tough emotions to the surface. What’s important to remember is we all face challenges in our lives, no one’s perfect, but if we take the time to reflect on those challenges, we can learn and grow from them. When reflecting on this year’s challenges, consider how they made you feel, how you coped, and what they taught you. Will you change the way you will cope with adversity in your life moving forward? If so, how? 
  • What are some good habits you created this year? 
    As the years go by, our habits and daily routines naturally change. But those small routines are the foundational building blocks in constructing who we are. What are three new, good habits you adopted this year? Maybe you started working out, cooking more, setting limits on your screen time, spending more time with friends and family, spending more time alone, or you picked up a new hobby. Write about these new habits in detail. When did you start practicing them and why? How did they change your daily life? How will you continue to grow and evolve these habits in the coming year? 
  • What are some not-so-great habits you adopted this year? 
    We all have some habits and coping mechanisms that aren’t that great for us. For example, eating unhealthy meals, doom-scrolling through your phone for hours on end, not giving enough time and attention to loved ones, or maybe just letting our homes get messy and disorganized. Identify three habits that you’d like to change. How did they negatively impact your life this year? How will you attempt to change them in 2022? Think of baby steps you can take to alter these habits. For example, if you spend an average of four hours on your phone daily, set up a screen time limit of 3 hours in your phone’s settings to remind you you’ve hit your daily limit, then over time make that limit even shorter like two hours, then one hour, and so on and so forth. 
  • What are some things that happened in 2021 that made you hopeful for the future? 
    It can be easy to get down on ourselves and on those around us, making us feel pessimistic about the future. So, think about a few things that happened this year that made you optimistic about the future. Was there a new advancement in technology you’re grateful for? Was there an event that you felt brought people closer together? Whatever it is, reflect on it in your journal. Why did it excite you? What can you do this year to make sure you witness this kind of thing again?  What about it makes you hopeful about the future? 

2021 was a whirlwind of a year, which makes it that much more important for us to reflect on all the things that happened to us. Every year, it’s beneficial to reflect on our experiences in order to learn, grow, and practice gratitude. 

We hope your 2021 was full of joieful moments. Here’s to 2022!