By Austin Adams
Perhaps the best way to become a better person and grow from your experiences is—while ending a certain period of your life—reflecting on that chapter with honesty and courage to see what you need to change, add, reduce, and remove. Great self-reflection is about seeing all that’s happened, asking how those things affected me, and who I am now because of it, and then planning where I am headed from this point forward. It’s a lot easier said than done, though, as many people start the new year with resolutions that they end up forgetting within a couple months or even weeks. The key is to go deeper than just a plain statement, and to think deeper than the surface. As a result, you can use the last year as motivation and building blocks for an improved year and better self.
Here are three important questions to ask yourself to become a better, more confident you in 2018:
1. Am I headed in the right direction?
This question is tough to answer, and it’s an easy one to say yes to quickly without much thought. But, there’s a sure marker that will guide you to answer this accurately. The best way to check whether your 2017 was spent in the right direction is if you genuinely like the person that you have become this past year and are still becoming. Yes, we make mistakes—there are fallouts and losses, shortcomings and disappointing moments, but there are also great triumphs and moments of sheer joy. Despite it all, if there’s a deep sense of satisfaction with the person you are now who’s recognizably better in your own eyes than when this year started, that’s a positive sign that your life is going in line with your essence. The key point to remember when assessing your situation is “in your own eyes.” It’s easy to succumb to the critical eyes of others and put yourself way down, but what matters only in the end is your acceptance and recognition of your own self.
If you feel disappointed with the answer you got for this question, don’t worry. Our lives, like a sailing ship, can change course when we choose to. Ask yourself what is it that you want that will help you become a person you genuinely feel good and confident about.
Whether you’re on a brighter path or one that leaves more to be desired, this is the perfect time to answer this important question of, “Am I headed in the right direction?” Apply it in all aspects of your life to assess your trajectory with honesty and courage, so you don’t unknowingly continue to go down a path that leaves you unhappier as the years go by.
2. Who do I want to be in 2018?
This question is a natural segway from the previous one. Take all you’ve gained from the last reflection and set goals for yourself in the new year ahead by asking, “Who do I want to be in 2018?”
New Year’s resolutions are often short-lived and can easily be forgotten if there was no real (or realistic) plan for following through with them. What are some personal and job related goals that you hope to achieve in the upcoming year? Is it to get out of a toxic relationship? Is it to become a gifted healer? Or is it to become a better partner?
The goal here is to clarify in your own mind who you want to be and set the direction you’ll be heading towards in 2018. Track your decisions in health, spirituality, self-growth, relationships, work — everything relevant to your life. When you look back on this year, can you see that everything unfolded from your choices? Now, the question is, where those choices made with a clear direction in mind or not? From the moment you wake up, you are making choices as you go about your day. You choose to get out of bed, you choose to go to work, you choose to finish that assignment, you choose to get into an argument with someone. Whether good or bad, it was a string of choices today, the last month, and last year that brought you to this moment.This reflection is about setting your course for your journey in the upcoming year. Choose in your mind who you want to be in 2018 so you can take create your environment to help you become that person.
3. What is my first action step toward my goal?
After plotting out who you want to be and where you are headed, you can use those points to mold the specific steps to get to your projected 2018 self. It’s easy and quite natural to become overwhelmed at the thought of planning for a whole year. So instead, try thinking about one thing: the first action you need to take towards your goal. What is that first step?
Do you wish to practice meditation this year? Then maybe the first step you can take is setting up a meditation space in your home. Do you want to travel more? Write down a list of countries you’d like to go to and set a plan to save money. Breaking down big ideas into small, bite-size actions is essential for being able to achieve your goals. Focusing just on the first step after setting your direction will help you start with something that you can build on. Once you’ve completed the first step, then revisit the question again and ask yourself: “And now, what’s my first step from this point?” Take one step at a time and you’ll soon look back at the end of 2018 and realize that you’ve progressed miles towards your dream. As the Buddha famously said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and the journey to your goals in 2018 begins with one small action step at a time.
How do you feel now? Not everyone spends the time to invest in self-reflection, so you can be proud of the steps you’ve taken. As you digest your life in the last year, you will learn a lot about yourself and where you’re at. These steps are vital to gaining true satisfaction in life and to actually making a change in your path, rather than accepting the usual and drifting. It’s up to you to make the choice to change and improve — make this year the start of a new era of self-love, progress, and happiness.