To be honest, New Year’s resolutions have never really resonated with me. I find them too easy to make and too easy to break. I think there’s a better way.

Of course, starting or recommitting to a new habit, or dropping a habit that isn’t serving us, can certainly be good for our health. But we owe it to ourselves to go bigger than those stale old resolutions.

A deeper dive

What we really deserve is a deeper dive into all that occurred for us in the past twelve months.

If you’re like me, you may tend to gloss over your own achievements. But in doing so, we also gloss over new opportunities for learning and improvement.

Instead, if we take the time to look back at the year

past, explore and be curious, and reflect not only on ac- complishments but also on disappointments, we can be gifted with a new perspective.

This exercise can even help us develop gratitude for experiences that were difficult or draining.

This new perspective can shape our attitude about the next twelve months and can remind us that our experien- ces are what make us who we are, if we take time to reflect, learn, and grow.

Thanks to a good friend, Francesco Lombardo, I’ve been introduced to his annual reflections tradition, and every year around this time I get excited about it.

Time to reflect

If you’re like me and enjoy, or even savour, alone time, this is part of the gift that comes with a reflections tradition.

I consider the questions below in my happy places, while skiing or walking on valley trails – and I reflect.

Carry these questions with you and consider them often, especially if you are a reflective thinker as I am.

When I finally sit down to write, a flood of impressions fill my journal pages.

You can make this exercise as short, or as long, as you like. It’s for you and no one else.

What first struck me when I did this exercise was having 23 answers just for question number one!

Without this exercise, I wouldn’t have been conscious of how many upsides and wins happened for me in a year!

Ask yourself

  1. What was the biggest victory/accomplishments of the year?
  2. What was the lesson/learning I got from these achievements?
  3. What was the greatest defeat/disappointments of the year?
  4. What was the lesson/learning I got from these failures?
  5. What am I letting go, relationships, situations, things, beliefs, and behaviors
  6. What am I replacing these with? What relationships, beliefs, and behaviors?

It’s reflection not perfection

When we start a new exercise or habit: it’s better done short than not done at all! This is not a massive task – it’s a fun project to deepen your self knowledge and to create a personal roadmap for the year ahead.

Make it your style. Keep it short and sweet if that’s what you have in you right now. Knowing your style can help you master new productive healthy habits and make them work for you.

Reflections of my own

As I reflect on 2023, I increased my focus on my family and organisation – in my work and in my home.

I simplified and streamlined. I decluttered, reviewed almost every piece of paper and belonging in my office and also my home.

This liberated energy and enhanced my clarity, because what remains in my belongings reflects what I value: holistic well-being, family, and lifelong learning.

I am celebrating this because I am now more organised, I have more peace – I know how to access what I need, and I know what I have.

Consequently, I have more time and less chaos! Meanwhile, I can say “no” to more things, stuff, and commitments that don’t align with my values.

Lessons learned

A disappointment in the last year is that I invested time and money in a new business, in what I thought was my passion project. But four months into it I lost all enthusiasm and dropped it.

Here’s my silver lining: when something feels like more effort and work versus inspiration and boundless creativity, it is not a passion project.

I exited my failed venture and had an “a-ha” moment: embrace what energizes you! For me, that’s filming health content on my YouTube channel (@DrBrynMD).

What are some trials and tribulations that stood out for you last year? Now that some time has passed, can you examine them through a new lens and see what gifts and learnings might reveal themselves?

With my patients and myself, I focus on growth within one, some, or all, of the five pillars of health: food, sleep, movement, purpose, and connection.

Now, it’s time to focus on you — to strive for energized, playful, bold; to use this reflections tradition as a challenge!

Give yourself the time to invest in yourself; to look back and recognise all that you’ve done, where and how you’ve grown, and what’s important to you this year.

Remember, this challenge is not a massive task, and the upsides are worth the time you’ll spend on yourself. —LP