Ahhh, the beginning of the new year. A fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. Forget about last year—that’s old news! Everything is new and different now. New and different? Wait a second…not so fast! We’re so used to the frenetic lifestyle that has become a trademark of our times that we automatically catapult into the new year, always looking ahead, not even taking a moment to think about all the great memories we made and all the lessons we learned in the previous year. Take a moment and think about 2016. What were some of the most exciting things that you did? What new things did you try? What lessons did you learn?
At the end of each year, I like to use my reflections from the previous year to set my goals for the next year.
This year, I was in Nebraska visiting my family at the end of the year, so I “strongly encouraged” my whole family to fill out reflection sheets for 2016. By strongly encourage, I mean that the no-nonsense teacher in me appeared and I made them all sit down at the table, handed out pens and paper, and told them to get started. If someone tried to slip away, I looked at their partially completed paper and guided them back to their chair. In the beginning, they were joking around—trying to look at their neighbor’s paper, shuffling their papers around as they were trying to come up with ideas for each of the categories. Soon, most of them had finished, so I asked each person to share one section of their sheet.
As we went around the room, listening to each person share, I realized that everyone was present. Fully present in the moment. They were really listening to each person share, happy when their name was mentioned as part of someone’s best family memory. Before long, they were wistfully reminiscing about their memories over the past year and laughing about some of the lessons that others learned. The best part was that we all learned something about each other (and ourselves) in the process.
My point is that you might have to “strongly encourage” or force your family at first to take part in reflection and goal setting, but once you all do it, your whole family will reap the benefits. The fun part is that I’ve made a couple of doodling pages to get you started. Start with 2016 and do some reflecting. Then move on to 2017 and set some goals to get a strong start on the new year.
I’d love to hear about your best family memory from 2016. Share yours in the comments below!