Each year about this time, I try to set aside some time to consider the past year. It can be a difficult task but certainly worth it. Taking the time to remember, reflect, repent, and resolve is an incredible process that can lead to significant results for the future.
Remembering can be a challenge so this is why I encourage people to have a journal. Being able to thumb back through pages, seeing notes, highlights, low periods and milestones is very important in evaluations. This is a time to remember things that were happening, remember our prayers, remember our blessings, remember our hurts and pains, joys and successes. Remembering helps us to take a big picture view of our lives noting lessons learned and blessings gained. It also allows us to have a better perspective of where we can and should go in the future.
Reflection is the act of seeing how things shaped you and how you shaped people, environments and communities. It’s the ability to see oneself in situations and how those situations were impacted by you. For practical purposes it means where can you see your reflection in and through the last year? How did your life impact people and how did they impact you? Being able to reflect and ponder decisions, commitments, and relationships is crucial in evaluation and making plans for the future. Ultimately when reflecting one must ask how was God reflected in and through each area of life. Remembrance and reflection will lead to repentance.
Inevitably there have been mistakes made and opportunities missed over the last year. Taking time to evaluate gives us pause to consider the wrongs committed against God, self and others. No one can seriously go through an evaluation without expecting to see areas, sometimes huge, that need to be fixed and filled. Repentance allows for God to do this in our lives. In fact, His kindness toward us leads to repentance. This kindness is shown through simple evaluations of life and business, relationships and service. Repentance leads to resolve.
Simply remembering, reflecting and repenting is not enough to move forward; there has to be some form of resolution. New year evaluations are vitally important because it brings us the momentum to move forward. This momentum is found in resolution brought about by careful evaluation. When we sincerely understand our blessings and struggles we can formulate and prayerfully enter into resolutions that will bring results. Taking time to evaluate then does not just allow us to recognize and celebrate the past but in all manners it creates the pathway to embracing our God-ordained future.
Questions to consider as you evaluate your year:
Am I willing to be truthful as I look back on the year?
Is there anything for which I am ashamed, regretful, or need to confess?
Is there anything for which I am humbled, grateful, or blessed that I need to acknowledge?
Where have I failed to live up to what I am capable?
How have I surpassed my expectations this year?
How has God blessed me this year?
Is there anything that God has taken away or adjusted this year in my life?
Did I achieve the goals I felt God had given me at the beginning of the year? If not, consider where you got sidetracked and why?
How has God supernaturally intervened in my life this year?
Is there an area that I need to surrender to God?
Is there anything that God has spoken to me about that I know needs to happen without a doubt?
What people does God want me to invest in next year?
What people will I allow to shape my life next year?
If there was a common theme, lesson or word from last year, what would sum it up?