One time a friend asked on social media “how do you know if therapy is helping?”
I think of that every time I prepare for a Reflection Session at the end of one of my coaching packages. I never want one of my clients to wonder whether coaching was helpful for them—much less to not even know how to tell if it was helpful for them!
So before the final session of any package, I read through my notes from every session in the package, and through any notes the client has shared with me. I compile the highlights into a Reflection Document, and we work through it in our final session, first looking back at what happened, and then looking forward at how the client wants to carry their progress into their everyday life.
I find this kind of reflection important in my own life, too. I don’t want to just float through the year without taking stock of what happened and consciously planning what I want to do next. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about self-improvement and New Year’s Resolutions. The important thing is just that my eyes are open, that I’m watching the passage of time, and my own personal evolution.
Even when you’re not in coaching, therapy, or other dedicated personal development work, you’re still growing and developing. Each year contains many moments of challenge, insight, and breakthrough. So I think my reflection questions can apply to the end of our year, as well.
So, join me in an End of Year Reflection!
Since I don’t have notes about how your year went, I’ll give you some end of year reflection questions to jog your memory. I’ll ask about the year for simplicity, but I suggest thinking back through the seasons or the months to really access your memories from the entire year.
Review what you learned
With clients, my first end-of-package reflection question is about learnings, so that they can remind themselves of those learnings and hold onto them better.
- What did you realize about yourself this year?
- What did you learn about life this year?
- What did you learn in your area of expertise this year?
Celebrate your accomplishments
Too often, those of us with a perfectionist streak are always chasing accomplishment, never seeming to catch it. Because as soon as we catch it, we think “well, this isn’t actually good enough. I need the next thing.” So, although there’s more to life than accomplishing things, I think there’s something really healthy about stopping to notice what you did accomplish.
Now, I know some of you are going to have a hard time filling out this section with accomplishments that don’t feel “big enough.” So feel free to tell your brain that in order to get an A in this End of Year Reflection, you have to count things even if they’re small. You can use that overachiever energy for good.
- What projects did you finish this year?
- What did you quit or say no to, knowing it was the right decision?
- What did you get better at this year?
Form your end of year narrative
At this point, I share my own narrative of what unfolded in the coaching package, using my background knowledge about parts work to boil down all the detail into an overall arc. Then, I ask the client to respond with their own narrative. My narrative is, I hope, helpful input, but ultimately we each have to form our own understanding of ourselves and our lives. Since I can’t tell you about your life in a blog post, you’re on your own here, but again, I’ll give you some prompts to help you get started.
- What were your primary struggles this year?
- How did you grapple with those struggles?
- How did grappling with them change you?
- Where are you in those struggles as the year ends?
As my coaching teacher Steve March says, we always begin and end a session “in the middle of life.” And it’s the same with years. There’s nothing wrong with coming to December 31st without having solved all of your problems. It’s the taking stock that counts.
Reflect on what’s next
Regardless of whether the client chooses to continue coaching, we discuss what habits they can weave into daily life to maintain the progress we’ve seen, and what goal they want to work towards next. You can do the same!
- Given where you landed in your current struggles, what is your next goal?
- What step do you need to take next to work towards that goal?
- What’s a small daily habit that could help you work towards this goal?
This habit can be directly or indirectly related to your goal. For instance, if you have a goal to write a book, a directly related habit could be to write a little bit each day. An indirectly related habit could be to spend five minutes each morning deciding on your top priority for the day, because you know that if you get your top priority done by 5pm, you’ll be willing to write in the evening. Indirectly related habits can often be short and sweet, which makes it easier to adopt them.
To choose a habit that can stick:
- set up a reminder for it. This could be an alarm on your phone, or something natural like putting the book you want to read in a place where you’ll see it.
- remove obstacles to doing it. If your habit is to journal, make sure you have pens handy. If your habit is to exercise, pick out your gym clothes.
- make decisions about it beforehand. By the time you commit to the habit, it should be crystal clear in your mind what you’re asking yourself to do. The more decisions you have to make at game time, the harder it will be to follow through.
What did you come up with?
I’d love to hear some snippets of your end of year reflections! Feel free to tag me on Threads, Facebook, or Instagram at @partswithpresley and share something you learned, accomplished, or planned out.