This time of year is filled with year-in-review lists. Things like the  best movies, the biggest news stories and the famous people who have died flood the media and internet.

Likewise, as we anticipate the beginning of the new year, people’s thoughts turn to new year’s resolutions and things they would like to change about themselves and improve on in the following year.

In this spirit I wish to recommend doing a psychological year-in-review.  A PYIR is a time to look back and remember moments which have increased your understanding and  have had a lasting impact on your outlook of life, that is the times which have helped you to make sense of the world and your place in it.  I believe that our life’s journey is an ongoing and expanding experience in which we add, not only to our storehouse of knowledge but also increase our awareness of  meaning and purpose. Taking stock of the year which has just passed helps us to feel emotionally grounded and spiritually connected.

Using a calendar and photos to go through the year chronologically and recall the time and events which stand out is a good way to conduct this inventory.  Here are some helpful questions to get you started. What/who were :

— your happiest moments ?   Who were the people, what were the places and circumstances and what did you do that made you the happiest — and why?

— your most difficult times ?  Who were the people, what were the places and circumstances and what happened that disappointed you or created the biggest problems   — and why?

—  the new people that have come into our life ?   Which ones have meant the most to you ? Why?

— the people who have died or moved out of your life ?  Who do you miss the most ? Why ?

— the new things that you have learned from books or television or the internet or in conversation with others?  

— the successes you have enjoyed ?  What did you do that made you feel the best about yourself

— the defeats or frustrations  you have experienced ?

— the lessons from your victories ? What were the lessons from your failures ?  

— the ways that your understanding, beliefs or goals have changed.

After going through the weeks and months of the year to review these questions, shift perspective and look at the year as a whole.  Ask if , overall,  your life experiences enhanced, confused or frustrated your goals. Did the moments over the year, when taken in total, increase your hope and optimism or tear it down?  Over all was it a good, bad or so/so kind of year?

Finally, in looking ahead, what specific goals do you have to continue your successes or to improve on difficulties ?  What besides exercising, losing weight or stop smoking is on you list ? Think big.  What can you do to make your life more meaningful and happy ?

If you take the time, you will find that there are many forgotten moments, big and small , that have held special meaning for you and that you want to hang on to going forward. Making the effort to review and write down those special times is a good way to secure them in your awareness and to make you more ongoingly mindful of what is important to you.

So, here’s a hearty hail and farewell to the past and hopeful welcome to the new year !

Rev. Michael Heath , LMHC, Fellow AAPC

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