How to learn from 2013

New Year, new beginnings 2014 series: Whether 2013 was a great year for you, or not, there is still something to be learned from it, to make 2014 the best year possible.


How to learn from 2013

So what kind of year have you had? Did you send out a 10-page update in all your cards this Christmas, raving to friends and family about how fabulous your year has been, or would you rather not dwell on the past 12 months. Looking back – who has the time? Isn’t it all about now?

In a way, you’re right. As a life coach, I mostly talk with clients about how they are feeling in the present and also about what they want to create for themselves in the future.

However, every mid-winter, I invite my clients to conduct a review of their year. I believe that pressing pause to look back over the last 12 months can be one of the most powerful and useful exercises you can do. Often we spend our lives running around, reacting to life, most of us too overwhelmed to take the time to look properly at what is working and what is not.

Press pause

Take some time to look back over the last year and see if any patterns emerge. Looking back over the whole year will give you a great sense of perspective – where were you this time last year, and how has that changed? Don’t panic if you feel resistant to answering the questions. Often we can feel frightened about what we might discover. What did you enjoy most, and what stopped you from laughing? Even if you can’t quite put your finger on it, your emotions are intuitive- if you didn’t enjoy a particular thing, but can’t quite work out why, it’s worth looking into it further. You may fear the voice of your inner critic who wants to berate you for everything you haven’t achieved, but I urge you to commune with your ‘inner coach’ –imagine best friend meets wise champion.

What do you see?

When you look back, are you more concerned by what you haven’t achieved?

Look for what really brought you joy this year- it may not be the things you expect. Of course, achieving the big goal can be a wonderful thing but- as in any great quest or journey – it’s what we learn along the way that can teach us the most valuable life lessons. And if you’re still beating yourself up – ask how you can be more forgiving towards yourself for not achieving as much as you’d planned. Maybe you were too busy doing something you did want to do- and what was that? This can give you some idea as to where you may want to focus your energy next year.

 If your year wasn’t great, what can you learn?

Maybe you did achieve the big goals this year, but then discovered they did make you happy. Sometimes it’s the small changes that make a big difference to our lives. Our December issue Dossier looked at how small changes can transform your life in big ways. (To order a back issue, click here).  Work out what you’ve loved this year and what’s made you laugh out loud.  If you’ve had a tough year, don’t ignore those negative emotions – they may be a nudge for you to find your true purpose.

Psychologies editor and life coach Suzy Greaves has compiled 5 questions we can ask ourselves to help us learn from our year here, and you can find out what our own Psychologies deputy editor, Lauren Hadden, learnt from 2013 here.

For more tips, stories and advice on making 2014 great, read the rest of our New Year, new beginning series, click here. 

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