Gratitude and goals – life appraisal

The ending of one year and the start of another is a great opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and think about what we want to achieve next year.

For those of you who work in a corporate environment you will be used to participating in an annual appraisal; looking back at what went well, what you have learnt and what can be improved – setting goals or objectives for the year ahead. However, this ‘appraisal’ doesn’t need to be limited to a work environment – we can use the same techniques to conduct our own personal life appraisal.

Looking back:

Looking back gives us the opportunity to identify the good things that have happened, the happy memories and the things to be grateful for. We know that 2020 has been particularly challenging and many people will be glad to see the back of it – holding out high hopes for a better 2021, but whilst 2020 has been a difficult year for us at times, we try not to think of it as a wasted year.

2020 has given us some sad and challenging times, but also a number of things to be grateful for.

Here are some things we are grateful for and have learnt in 2020:

  • Amy’s Grandad sadly passed away in February at the grand age of 94. Whilst this was a sad time, his daughters and grandchildren were all able to travel to Menorca (where he lived) to celebrate his life and mourn his loss together at a memorial service in early March. A week after we returned home, the UK and Spain were put into lock down. Had he died later than February we would not have been able to do this
  • We’ve learnt to appreciate the outdoors more – there is a Swedish proverb that says ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’.  We are grateful that the weather over the summer was so good that it made it easier to spend time outside and see friends and family socially distanced, but as the seasons have changed, we’ve learnt to adapt, wrap up warm and ensure that we still get time outside each day
  • We’ve learnt to slow down and appreciate the small things – taking walks in nature, playing board games, doing jigsaws and spending time with loved ones (even if socially distanced)
  • We’ve also learnt that too much screen time consuming social media, news, TV shows etc doesn’t serve us and yet it is our default activity when times are difficult – we use it as a distraction from all that is going on but too much of it can make us feel anxious

Looking forward:

Instead of resolutions we take the new year as an opportunity to set ourselves some goals to work towards. These may be smaller goals working towards our larger goal plan or specific goals for the year ahead.

Setting goals helps us to prioritise what it is we want from life – goals provides focus and direction – a roadmap to follow – which in a world of uncertainty and chaos is something re-assuring to have.

Having goals gives us motivation to form positive habits and behaviours – it helps us to live with intention, aligning goals with our values and taking small daily actions towards achieving the life we want.

Having a goal to work towards is as important as achieving it. Remember – goals are there to help direct and motivate – not to beat ourselves up over.

Not all goals will be met – circumstances change and so can your goals – if something is no longer working for you re-assess it, tweak it or drop it all together and set a new goal.  Goals don’t have to be big – it can be something simple that takes you closer to the life you want to live – make sure your goal is realistic and that it can be achieved in the timeline you’ve set yourself.

Finally, celebrate the goals that you do achieve – recognise how far you have come and reward yourself for the progress you have made.

Here are some of our goals for 2021:

  • Practice Spanish using the Duolingo app for 10 mins each weekday
  • Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week
  • 3 months no alcohol
  • Get back to being able to run 5k without walking
  • Reduce social media usage to 15 minutes per day
  • No TV or screen time for an hour before bed to improve our sleep quality

What are your goals for 2021? Let us know in the comments below.

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