Looking Back: How One Journal Prompt Can Help You Reflect on the Past Year 1

AS THE END OF THE YEAR APPROACHES, I like to spend time reflecting on what happened during the year. Typically, I review my goals for the year and assess how I did in relationship to my intentions; I read past blog posts to help remember what happened and refresh my memory about where I was emotionally; and I think about how I’ve changed (or not).

This year, I’m trying a new and simpler approach, borrowed from the headlines. Let me explain.

Every year, at the end of the year, the headlines are full of “best of” and “most read” titles that are based on the number at the end of the year. This year, because it’s 2022, the titles read “Best 22 Movies in 2022,” and “22 Most Read Posts in 2022,” an so on. Last year it was 21, and next year it will be 23. 

So I came up with one prompt to get started with my year-end reflection. At risk of TMI, I am sharing my personal responses and reflections with you so you can see how this prompt might work for you, and I invite you to use the prompt if it appeals to you.

The prompt is simply:

What are 22 things I accomplished, am proud of, enjoyed, or am just plain grateful for in 2022?
Okay, let’s get started. The first two items are easy, as they were my “big ticket” accomplishments.
  1. I wrote Journaling for Dummies, which was published on November 1, in record time (less than 9 months, start to finish).
  2. I trained for and rode my bicycle along the entire 2,000-mile Pacific Coast route, from the Peace Arch in Blaine, WA to Friendship Park at the border between the US and Mexico — and arrived home strong and unscathed.
  3. I am immensely grateful for my partner Rich’s unfailing support in all my endeavors. I could not have done any of this without him.

    At this point in my reflection, I paused. I needed to go back to January in my calendar and journaling entries to remember what happened earlier in the year.

  4. I completed a 30-day journaling challenge in January that helped me to start writing again after a fallow period. (I wrote a blog post about this experience.)
  5. I wrapped up my work at my corporate day job and officially retired at the end of February. I feel proud of how I managed the transition with my replacement. And now: Freedom!
  6. In June, Rich and I enjoyed a 400-mile bicycle tour through the Willamette valley in Oregon with friends, seeing 26 covered bridges along the way.

    Okay, I made it to number six. What now? What else have I done? What else am I grateful for?
  7. With the lifting of COVID restrictions this year, we vacationed in Cabo San Lucas in May and again in December. I am so grateful for this luxury.
  8. I became an active member of the local cycling club, which has opened up my social life in new ways.
  9. I also joined “Dow Janes,” a women’s investment club in order to finally learn about stocks and investments and how to get a handle on my retirement income. (Better late than never?)
  10. I made the big decision to apply for Social Security to start in 2023.

    I paused here. Thinking up 22 different items is harder than it sounds. What else have I done or learned?
  11. I’m learning that it’s okay to not be super productive every day. After spending so many years squeezing productivity out of every available minute, I tend to worry that I’m not doing enough since retiring. I can only laugh at myself. 
  12. I started taking piano lessons again — a bucket list goal!
  13. I cleaned up and completely reorganized my office, including getting a new desk. 
    After retiring, I found that I was reluctant to spend any time in my office because I’d spent so many hours at my desk and in Zoom meetings while working. I needed to change things up to make it an attractive space again. Someplace I’d want to come to write and maybe just relax.
  14. I sold my rental house (this had been my home before moving in with my partner), unburdening myself of having to take care of a rental and adding to my potential retirement assets. 
  15. With Rich’s help, I expanded the vegetable garden, adding two garden beds and additional pots to produce a ton of food and herbs this summer: tomatoes, carrots, parsley, green beans, eggplant, kale, spinach, zucchini squash, baby acorn squash, rainbow chard, beets, chives, sage, oregano, thyme, 3 different types of basil, rosemary, strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, corn, apples, figs, oranges, lemons, and limes.
  16. I’m immensely grateful that we didn’t have any big fires in the Napa area in 2022. The last few years were difficult in this respect.
  17. I joined the Napa Valley Writers board as “Member at Large” and began contributing by handling the newsletter and other small tasks in September. Another retirement bucket list goal.
  18. We’re more than 20 years in, and my relationship with Rich has continued to grow stronger and we’re closer and more solid than ever. Gratitude!
  19. I’m also grateful that my family — children, grandchildren — are all healthy and doing relatively well.
  20. I have the luxury of figuring out what I want to do in this next phase of my life. I do not take this privilege for granted.
  21. I have made new friends and deepened existing friendships this year. 
  22. And finally, in 2022, I have read 31 books and listened to 26 audiobooks, which fact has pleasantly surprised me as I didn’t think I was reading that much.


Your Turn

Please let me know what you think of this prompt, and if you’d like to, feel free to share some of your reflections.

What are 22 things you have accomplished, are proud of, enjoyed, or are just plain grateful for in 2022?

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