Intentional Year End Reflection

Back by popular demand and updated!

This repost is a specially guided reflection exercise for the end of the year. It’s easy to modify for individuals, families, or teams. Click here to view the worksheet

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I invite and encourage you to set aside some time for intentional reflection.


Reflection is a critical practice for leaders. It requires slowing down to listen to God, to others, and to oneself. It fosters learning, stimulates growth, encourages celebration, calls for course corrections, invites grieving, identifies priorities, and renews focus and energy.

A couple of years ago, I created a reflection exercise for the Arrow team. The rough outline of what we did as a team follows below, but you can easily modify the template for personal, family, or team reflection.

All you need is an hour or so of unhurried time and a journal.

1. Look Back and Remember Reflection is often difficult because we simply can’t remember what’s happened over a longer time frame. Take a moment to reviews the year’s events by considering the questions below starting back at New Year’s Eve. Privately reflect as the memories come up.
  • What were you doing last New Year’s Eve?
  • Who were you with?
  • What were you hoping for in the year ahead?
  • What challenges were before you?
  • What was going on in the lives of the people close to you?

Write each month (January to December) in your journal or on a separate piece of paper. Go month by month and mark down special events: birthday, anniversaries, vacations, holidays or significant responsibilities.

Ask questions for each month like:

  • What was going on? What was important?
2. Intentional Reflection With memories jogged, the next step is intentional, prayerful reflection. Take the time and space  you need to privately journal responses to the following questions about the past year:
  • What’s been hardest?
  • What surprised you most?
  • What are you thankful for? Who has blessed you? (List at least 10 items)
  • Where did you fail? What did you learn?
  • What’s been disappointing?
  • Whom or what do you need to grieve?
  • Where have you been stretched? Where have you grown?
  • What have you learned?
  • What have you been encouraged by?
  • What should you celebrate?
  • Where do you see blessings from waiting? From struggle?
  • Whom or what have you invested in?
  • How have you seen God at work?
  • Where do you see Jesus more in your life and leadership?
  • What have your learned about God?

As you begin to look ahead to a new year, reflect on:

  • What might be on God’s heart for you this next year?
  • What are your big priorities for the year ahead?
  • Is there an area of your character God may want to grow?
  • Are there some key people you want/need to spend more time with?
  • What spiritual and life rhythms do you need to get in place?
  • Imagine reflecting back a year from now, what words do you want to be able to say about how you lived the year before you?
3. Processing and Sharing – With lots of thoughts stirring, invite each person, if done in a group, to share their responses to their choice of any two of the questions. This helps people externalize their internal processing. It can also be a very special community-building time.

Then share if there are any follow-up or next steps flowing from the reflection time.

For example:

  • A note of thanks to be written?
  • Forgiveness to be extended or sought?
  • Something that needs to be left behind.
  • A “page” that needs to be turned?
  • New priorities that need to be established?
4. Prayer – Offer worshipful prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for the journey ahead.

In the busyness of this special season or early in the new year, I encourage you to set aside sixty minutes for a time of reflection. Whether done individually, as a family, or as a team, you will be richer for investing the time in the process.

Cheering you on,

Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership

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