Prompts for New Year Reflections

Always think about things you can start doing rather than what you need to stop. There’s no point trying to take away an unwanted coping mechanism until you have started to develop a new, healthier one.

As we stride into the new year, in the middle of these grey winter days, it can be a time not only to look back but to look forward too. You may have your own ritual for the end of the year or you may be working on your New Year’s resolutions. Whatever you have in mind, this blog provides some ideas to help you consider different ways of framing your reflections.

Taking stock is something that we don’t always make time to do. It can often be forced upon us, perhaps the result of an unexpected life change, for example, a sudden illness, a loss or a break up. We can be jolted into reassessing our lives and reconsidering what matters most.

A new year provides a natural milestone and an opportunity, should you choose to use it, to proactively take stock of where you’re at in your life. It can be a chance to reassert your intentions and priorities for the year ahead.


The act of writing things down brings thoughts into real, tangible words on paper. Seeing things written down can be a great release as well as a challenge too; it’s not always easy to commit our thoughts and feelings to paper. You might find you censor yourself, if you do, consider why that might be? How could you feel more free to write authenitcally? There is always the option of shredding or burning the paper afterwards!

Below are a list of questions and ideas to consider for New Year reflections.

Looking back

This will no doubt be a mixture of the light and the dark. Offloading what you want to let go of from last year, and taking time to acknowledge the wins too. You don’t need to answer them all, pick out the questions that you are drawn to, or come up with some of your own.

  • Who has added value to my life this last year?
  • Who/what has drained my energy?
  • What activities/events have brought me the most joy?
  • What has brought me sadness, anger or fear?
  • When have I felt most alive and absorbed in the present moment?
  • Where is my favourite memory in nature?
  • What am I proud of in myself (small wins included)?
  • Three things I am grateful for this last year?
  • What have I learnt about myself?
  • What have I learnt about others?
Looking ahead

Always think about things you can start doing rather than what you need to stop. There’s no point trying to take away an unwanted coping mechanism until you have started to develop a new, healthier one. For example, rather than ‘I must stop pleasing others all the time until I am burnt out’, try ‘I will start to value my own time and energy first and do more for me’. The language you use really matters.

  • What can I do more of in the coming year that I enjoy?
  • What am I ready to commit to in looking after my wellbeing?
  • Do any of my personal or professional boundaries need some work? If so, what could I start doing differently?
  • What can I do to expand my comfort zone in the year ahead?
  • What do I want to keep doing this coming year ?
  • When I look back at the end of the next year, what do I want to see?

Other Ideas for Reflection

  • Walking resolutions – make time to go on a walk, on your own or with one other person and set the topic for your walk to reflect on the year and consider the year ahead. By the end of the walk choose something to let go of and something to take into the new year with you.
  • Photo books/collages – we take, send and receive so many photos. Select your favourites from the past year and create a collage or make a photo book.
  • Letters – write a letter to yourself a year from now with your hopes and intentions for the year. Open it at the end of next year. You may also want to write to a friend or a family member that you feel particularly grateful to have in your life and let them know.
  • Art – poems, drawings, paintings – express yourself creatively and perhaps use a journal prompts to inspire your creation.
  • Conversation – reflecting on the year doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Set up a conversation with friends or family, make time together to talk about your reflections from the year and intentions for the year ahead. This can be great for couples too, setting shared goals and intentions for your relationship can create a sense of togetherness and deeper connection.

If you’re currently in counselling or therapy, your therapist may invite reflection in your final session of the year if this is something you want to do. With all of these ideas the most important thing is just to give yourself a moment’s pause, a deep breath before you move into the next year of your life.

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