As 2015 is coming to a close, what best (and perhaps more obvious) to suggest than a proper wrap-up?! As modern life so often comes with the taglines „time is flying“ or „I don’t really have time for anything“, setting some time aside to reflect on those 365 days, we might realise that last Christmas feels a long time ago and that we actually did do a few things here and there in the meantime.
I am a great fan of Have Done Lists, the little sister of the better known To Do List. (Yes, choosing the female form is on purpose!) Going through notes, calendar, emails, whatever it takes, to mentally rebuild a time frame again (a day or a week) and write down everything important that has happened and, most importantly, has come to an end in that time frame, gives me a great sense of progress and, well, closure. I do surprise myself regularly with just how much stuff I get done on a given day and it occasionally even gives me something that I rarely allow myself: pride.
Another benefit of having a Have Done List, is the looking forward bit. Whether it’s during exceptionally busy or quiet times, knowing that at the end of it I will be able to add xyz to my Have Done List, gives me a great deal of motivation. Laziness isn’t something I can handle particularly well and whenever I get caught up in a lull, picturing myself writing things on my Have Done List fires up the engine again. The anticipation of the joy of achievement works much better for me than the fear of failing.
So now it’s December 2015 and while there are technically still 23 days to go, I already sat down last weekend and wrote down my „This is what happened in 2015“ list. And what a joy it was. These are the categories I listed things under and I encourage you to take some time and make such a list for yourself, with whatever categories that apply:
This is what happened in 2015
- Trips I have taken / new places I have discovered (day trips, weekend trips, holidays)
- Interesting books I have read
- Films I have seen
- Learning opportunities I took advantage of (online / offline courses, lectures, podcasts, articles etc.)
- Friends I have spent time with
- New friendly people in my life and moments shared with them
- Unforeseen things (e.g. new job, sold the house, got a pet etc.)
- Achievements (e.g. completing a degree, running that 10k race)
- Events / celebrations (birthdays, weddings, births etc.)
The format I chose this year were clouds. I took a large piece of flipchart paper and drew several clouds with topics.
I first wrote everything that came to my mind from memory into the respective clouds. In a second step, I then consulted my various calendars and of course realised that I had totally forgotten a number of things. The process was a lovely walk down recent memory lane and the result was a pretty full picture of things that have happened in 2015. There were some random individual items that didn’t need or justify a cloud on their own, so I just wrote them in between.
As it turns out, I had a pretty great year and visualising it like that felt really good as I would have genuinely forgotten some lovely moments. While I had not intentionally focused on only the happy things, I did not actually write down many things that were exclusively negative. Of course, there were moments of sadness in 2015, but not many of great substance or importance when taking a step back. I do not take that for granted and I feel immensely thankful for that.
To finish this process, I picked 3 things that stood out and that, if I was asked in a dinner / elevator situation, would be my 2015 highlights.
I can not recommend this highly enough. I have been doing such wrap-ups since 2011 and while some years were tougher than others, taking a moment to reflect on also the good things, the surprises, the lovely words and hugs from kind people has always helped putting things into perspective.
So, happy reflecting and a merry end to 2015!