An open journal with Five things I achieved this year; five more things I achieved this year

The One About My End of Year Stock-Take

Hey there! It’s good to see you here. My name is Lizzie, and I am the redhead who is always wondering! Wondering about life, about this beautiful world, about words and light and colour and form. And mostly about how I can be the best me that I can possibly be.

I am a creator of hand bound books and of art, in the form of cyanotypes and photographs. I am also an avid journal-keeper and I’d like to share some of my journal wonderings with you today ….

Looking Back

Do you do an end of year “stock-take” of your life? Do you take time to write in your journal about how this year has been for you?

I do it every year.

Even before I started keeping a daily journal, long before I’d even heard of The Artist’s Way, I had an end of year habit … I would write! Long before I thought of it as a “journal entry”, I would write about what the year had been like for me, and what I hoped to achieve in the year to come.

Just to back-track a little and give you some context around my frame of mind as I did this when I was younger … New Year’s Eve has always been a difficult time for me, for many reasons.

I guess that the first reason for this is that my dad died just before Christmas, when I was 10 years old, and that kind of set the tone for the Christmas and New Year holidays in my family, and in my life, for a long time … I was always sad, I was always a little bit (sometimes a big bit) lost, cast adrift, bereft.

So, imagine this lost little girl, growing up to be a bit of a lost young woman … introverted, shy, fearful, and with just about the lowest self-esteem you could imagine. That was me. I guess you can imagine just how awful the whole “festive” period was for me, and if I tell you that I’m Scottish, I’m sure you can also imagine how frankly bloody terrible New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay!) was for me. Everyone getting drunk and telling each other that they “really loved” them, everybody partying … a total nightmare for me.

I hated parties (still do), I hated New Year’s Eve (and all the excessive drinking), and even when I was in (mostly dysfunctional) relationships, I nearly always stayed home alone, because it was way easier to be lonely on my own, than scared and lonely in a crowded room.

Journaling Before I Knew it WAS Journaling

And while I was home alone, I’d write. I’d write about the year that had just been, I’d write about how I was feeling. In my younger days, I’d usually rip the writing up when I was finished, because I didn’t want to risk anyone seeing it, and thus, seeing me.

When I got older, and I’d started journaling every day, then the end of year stock-take would be another entry in my Morning Pages books. That manifestation of the end-of-year-stock-take-habit started over twenty years ago, and I still do it now.

I often write pages and pages. It’s like a kind of declutter of my mind, and I find it so helpful. It clears some space in my head, making way for new plans and ideas to come in. (Decluttering is such a powerful tool. I’ll write more about that another day!)

Back to the journaling …

If you don’t do an end of year stock-take, then I can highly recommend it. It’s an incredibly powerful process, and if you can set some parameters going in, it can really help, especially if you are unused to journaling.

Start With Some Questions

The first thing that you can do, before you even start to think about where you want your life to go over the next year, before you even let the word “plan” sneak in, is do a stock-take of the last year, by asking yourself these questions, then allowing the words to come …

What am I most proud of this year?

Why?

Did I do something that was outside my comfort zone?

And how did that make me feel?

At this point, I want to remind you that your journal is for your eyes only. You don’t even have to tell anyone, not your spouse, partner, mother, child, or friend, what you write in there, or even that you are writing at all.

And whatever you write in there is absolutely fine. Your journal. Your rules.

For example, your answer might be, “yes, I did xyz and it was way outside my comfort zone, and it made me feel like shit and I am never doing that again!

And that is okay. Let me repeat that. It. Is. Okay!!

You can write whatever comes up for you, you make the laws in the land of your journal!

More Questions … Not Quite As Comfortable As The First Couple

So, back to questions …

Was I honest with myself and others about how I felt?

If the answer is “no”, then why not? What held me back?

If the answer is “yes”, then how did they take it? How did I take it when I told myself the truth? Did I find out a truth about myself that I didn’t know before?

What went wrong this year?

Was there anything I could have done to change it?

Did I make any bad choices this year?

How did those choices affect me?

Dive A Little Bit Deeper

Some bigger questions you can ask yourself, if you want to delve a bit deeper (I’m grateful to the Daily Om for the inspiration to ask these questions!) …

What is standing in my way RIGHT now?

What would happen if I overcame that obstacle?

What am I most afraid of RIGHT now?

What if I wasn’t afraid? What could I do?

I Have A Little List

At this point, you can stop asking questions, and start to make some lists, because lists are always good! I am a woman of many lists!!

Five Things I Achieved This Year

Five MORE Things I Achieved This Year!

Five Times I Was Happy This Year

Five MORE Times I Was Happy This Year! (Are you starting to see the pattern here?!)

Five Times I found Joy in The Every Day This Year

Five MORE Times I found Joy in The Every Day This Year (Are you starting to see that there really has been good stuff?!)

Five Things I Am Grateful for Right Now

Five MORE Things I Am Grateful for Right Now! (Are you starting to feel good about yourself?!)

And Now You Can Think About the Year To Come

Then, when you’re in that happy, grateful place, where you can see just how much you have achieved this year, just how far you’ve come, just how much you have overcome and how much joy you’ve felt …

… THEN you can start to think about your plans for next year, THEN you can start to build on what you’ve achieved, because believe me, if you can sit yourself down with a journal and start to write this stuff down, you ARE going to find out some really good shit about yourself!

And it is so much easier to set yourself goals, to make plans, to think about the future, when you feel good about yourself and how much you have done, grown and been in the last year. It’s a really good place to start.

Happy journaling and a very happy new year, my lovely friends!

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