Bring It 2018! Make it Your Year, With A Life Review

Bring it!

Did 2017 shake you to your core? Did it shake you enough to realize there’s changes you want to make in your life yet your not sure where to start?


Changing Habits Heals

I’ve been able to successfully start habits of self care and increase them in quantity and quality for the past two decades and have savored it’s many rewards. Among these rewards are healing my depression and bulimia, increasing my resilience, confidence, grit, resourcefulness and most of all feeling increasingly at ease in my own skin.


There’s no magic secret, just deceptively simple practices that are carried out religiously and among them are what I see as the very foundation of creating self care habits: a life review.


Why do you ask?


…because being vaguely aware that something in your life has to change is not enough to make a new self care habit stick through thick and thin when “life gets in the way”.


The greater the clarity on:

  1. Exactly why you need a change,
  2. How it will benefit you
  3. The consequences if you don’t

…the more chances of that habit being carried out indefinitely and becoming the same staple activity in your life as brushing your teeth.


To be able to have clarity on the 3 things mentioned above though, there needs to be clarity first on


  1. What areas of your life you want to focus on
  2. What you want more of and less of in those areas


If you have not yet reviewed your year  by taking stock of those two things, you can go to the first part of this blog post here.


There you will find the first half of the annual review  process I use every December that, helps me lay the groundwork for seeing clearly what changes I want to make in 5  life areas.  This process can be broken down into 2 parts :


  1. Inventory
    • A simple inventory of where I am drained and nourished in 5 different areas
  2. Let Go Love Letter
    • A purge, thanks and goodbye letter to, what I call “sticky” things (people or situations that carry an emotional charge to them) that usually come up in the inventory. I write those things a letter where:
      • I purge myself of all I need to tell those “things” ( people or situations)
      • I take responsibility for my part and forgive myself for it
      • I forgiving the thing
      • Lastly point out whats to be grateful from it.

I do a final little burning ritual for these letters where I tear them up and set them on fire in a bowl I have designated for just this.


Fire It Up to Let It Go

Some final words about this last part, in the same way I have habits that help me prevent clutter chaos from reigning in my home, I also need to clear the clutter from inside my heart  and mind.

In fully owning all that was beautiful AND ugly about the closing year, I give myself permission to feel all I need to feel to then be able to finally let it all go.  What results in seeing those torn pages burn in flames, is a feeling of inner spaciousness, a clean slate and fresh eyes with which to move forward.


The Fun Part

With that said, in having finished the not so pleasant first half of the process, I’m ready for the juiciest part! The second half which I’ll call the dreaming and scheming part. In this part I fill out 2 sheets that ask me very specific questions that help me get clear on what acts to focus on making habits and how to go about it.


The First Page

In the first page I zone in on the areas of my life that drain me and use them as seeds for my new habit. I call this sheet the Seeds of New Year  sheet. It is made up of a table of three columns and 5 rows. The rows are the 5 areas of my life and the 3 columns are labeled : draining feelings , the opposite feelings and what you will do to feel that. Here is a picture of a worksheet I made for this portion.
Seeds of New Year Sheet

I fill these out in the following way:


In the 1st column

I write down the feelings that the drainers in my life (from my simple life review sheet) incite in me.


In the 2nd column

I write the opposite of that feeling. So if in interacting with a certain person in my life, I feel tired, an opposite word would be energized. If a recurring situation in my life has me doubt myself then the opposite of that would be confident.


In the 3rd column

I write down what actions I can take to feel those feelings. Here is a sample sheet filled out to give you examples.

Copy of Seeds of New Year Sheet


Turning What Drains Us Into Seeds Of Change

This sheet is especially important to me in that it gives the framework to look at my drainers as seeds for good in the upcoming new year. I’ve come to see the value in approaching them through this lens from having learned these three things regarding creating self care habits


  • Although it may be our first reflex to want to “take out” those people, situations or habits that hold us back, in terms of making habits stick in the long run, it’s not enough.  Putting our energies to not do something or take something out, creates a vacuum space that, if we aren’t ready with a replacement, has our impulses take over and suck us back into old patterns.


  • When we take action to infuse good feeling into a situation that usually drains us, the good feeling allows us to have more ideas of further action we can take to expand on that good feeling. In following the thread of ideas, we become driven towards change out of a desire to expand that good feeling. Expanding something we enjoy is much easier then “Stopping” something we don’t enjoy.


  • Creating new habits is hard enough, but when we’re driven by good feeling instead of guilt, anger or  to avoid something, it helps us tolerate the uncomfortability until the new habit is established and finally comes without effort


Take Back Your Power

Getting clear on the new feelings I want to have and what kinds of actions I could take that would incite those feelings is an act of taking back my power from those areas that drain me.  The act can be big or small and in fact the smaller the better because small acts translate into easily doable and maintainable acts in the long run.


Copy of Copy of let it go love letter box



Second Page

I then go to my second page where the rubber meets the road and my plans to take  feel good  action turns into a doable plan. I name the sheet I Allow Myself To Feel. Here it is

NY#4 I allow myself letter



The sheet asks

  1. What feelings I give myself permission to feel. This part is critical for me because no matter how much I intellectually understand that I can feel whatever I want, the programing goes deep in me that “I’m not allowed to indulge in feeling good”. It’s truly in my hard wiring and although I have made great progress, it’s an issue that repeatedly comes up.
  2. What I’m willing to commit to doing, to feel that way
  3. Where I need to make room for it in my schedule
  4. What I need to say no to in my schedule to make sure it happens.


Once I fill this out I then block out times in my calendar and planner for this scheduled new habit to happen and frame sayings around my house that remind me of my reasons behind making these changes.

I allow myself Button



In  a separate post in the future I will share about the big time effectiveness of the reminders I have printed out and glued into the weekly and daily pages of my planner.

To summarize, here is the recap of the annual review process I use

Recap of My 2 Part Annual Life Review

First part

Prepare the ground

  1. Take stock (look at life in black and white)
  2. Clean house(allow all feelings to finally let go)
    1. Purge
    2. Forgive
    3. Give thanks
    4. Let go and burn


Second Part

Lay the seeds,

  1. Zone in on
    1. The feelings drainers incite,
    2. The opposite of those feelings
    3. Actions you can take to create those feelings in spite of your drainer
  2. Give yourself permission to feel those better feelings
  3. Make the commitment to an act
  4. Schedule it in
  5. Prepare to say no


Reflection is Foundational To Change

When I skip doing this annual review, my plans don’t meet me where I’m at in terms of my time, energy and resources and so, those plans end in disappointment. When I take the time to do my review, my plans are more sound, doable and the year ends with the satisfaction of having made the changes I intended.


Well there you have it. I myself completed this second half  today and as expected, I completed it lit with new ideas and gusto.

Do you have a way to recap, close out your year and prepare for the new year?


If you liked this post take a sec to like, share or comment below,


Sending you love, a reminder to take care of yourself and a big thank you for stopping by!


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