How do you reflect back on 2016 and set yourself up to start 2017 well?

Do you find yourself slipping into a reflective mode in this week between Christmas and New Year? I do. I booked time by myself to work through Amanda Vivier’s New Year Vision book earlier this week as my brain was furiously trying to process through the year that has been and wanting to get organised and look forward to next year. It was feeling like a chaotic process. My mind and soul were desperately trying to make meaning of a year that turned out very different to what I had thought at the start. I had ideas and plans flooding through my brain but in a haphazard way that was not lending itself to pinning down goals or action steps. I was left feeling overwhelmed and at a loss as to where to begin. The dedicated time I set aside was just what I needed. I loved using Amanda’s book at the end of last year to focus my scattered thoughts and it was what I needed again this year. 

One aspect of reflection that I have been chewing over this week is what impact my word for 2016 has had. Has “abide” been reflected in my priorities, my everyday life and the big moments too? It would be a lie to say that I have thought on my word every day. As I reflect back over the year, I do see subtle shifts though. Despite huge changes, steps of courage and potentially stressful events, I have sensed a deeper calm and centring than I have been aware of before. I recognise that this peace has come through consistent time with God and seeking his presence in my days. I am far from perfect. I don’t pretend to have some miraculous connection with God every day. I am realising more and more how it is the daily obedience, the small shifts, the minor moments that add up to abiding. As I come to the end of 2016, I am not done with the concept of “abide”. This will be a life-long pursuit. I was searching for my word for 2017. Would I continue with “abide” or was there something else that God was calling me to focus on?

During my retreat time away, a word came clear to me: “Faithful”. I shouldn’t have been surprised given that this word has come up repeatedly for me all year in the decision to take on the MOPS State Coordinator role. It is the word that has been on my heart to focus on during centring prayer times. 

I see two parts to this word: a firmer trust in God’s faithfulness and being faithful myself to what God has called me to. I am looking forward to diving deeper into this concept this year but am sensing some hard lessons ahead. Growth is often uncomfortable and I choose to embrace that.

My time of retreat has had two overall outcomes. 
I feel ready to start a new year now. My mind and soul don’t feel so chaotic. I have a sense of focus for the new year even if I don’t have a list of resolutions. 
I have struggled to pull myself out of introvert mode. This is a less desirable outcome but recognising it has allowed me to have grace for myself and my family. Immersing myself in reflection and deep processing is a valuable time but can be hard to shut off for this introvert. I have had to remind myself that other people, especially my daughter and husband, are not intruding or confronting. I am withdrawing. It has taken some effort to stop a spiral down into self-absorption and engage with those around me. This tells me that my soul needs more times of retreat and reflection. The time I have taken for myself has often been more in distraction mode than processing mode. A change to consider for next year.

It may be the last day of 2016, but it is not too late to end this year well and begin the new year in a better headspace. It won’t even be too late at the end of next week. Make some reflection time a priority. If you are like me, that will be a retreat by yourself to work through some questions. Maybe you are more of an external processor who needs to book some time with a trusted friend to work things through. Maybe you need to journal, paint, vision board or find a word. Whatever it looks like for you, I encourage you to make it a priority to start your year well.

What have been your reflections on 2016? Do you have a word for 2017? I’d love to hear from you.