Reflecting on 2018 and 5 Simple Questions to Reflect on The Year

One thing I’ve become accustomed to with each passing year is reflecting on the past year. But it’s something I was never really partial to. I used to go through year after year without really paying any great attention to what I’d accomplished and those heart-wrenching failures I should learn from (lest I repeat them). Thinking on it now, I’m not sure how I managed to keep life moving forward without a yearly reflection. Who knows, maybe I was subconsciously doing it without realizing it. 

But the most important part of a yearly reflection is to bring both the good and the bad to light.

To live an intentional life and create the life you desire, you need to know where you’ve been, where you are now and where you’d like to go. 

My Intention or word for 2018 is ~ rebuild.

This past year was about rebuilding. Some of you emailed me wondering why I had chosen such an “intense” word, thinking I was burning everything to the ground and starting again, and I essentially was.

The past eight years have held divorce, destructive relationships, losing a job, a 1600-mile solo road trip that expanded my mind more than words can say, the loss of my last living grandparent, and so much more. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. 

I felt I had hit the biggest bottom I’d ever experienced in my life in 2017. So naturally, the only way to go was up. And because of the rather large mountain I’ve had to climb, the word rebuilding was only natural.

I’ve spent most of the year rebuilding positive mindsets, good habits, and routines to help me lead the intentional life I want to live. 

Reflecting on 2018

Accomplishments for the year

I practiced forgiveness. 

Can I say how life-changing forgiving yourself and others can be? It works wonders. In the past, I’ve worked hard to forgive others, but I’ve never taken enough time to focus on forgiving myself. So this year, I spent a lot of time working to forgive myself. It’s been tough. It’s hard not to fall into the blame game and get frustrated with myself for what seems like a wasted two years. 

But as I always end up finding out — time is never wasted. I needed two years to heal. This year, I reached a turning point with my self-forgiveness. I spent 10 minutes one night doing a heartfelt forgiveness session. How did I know it worked? I felt it to my core. And I cried. Yep, I sobbed like a baby and felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. 

Try it sometime! It may take multiple tries for it to sink in fully and for you to believe it to your core, but it’s worth it. 

I simply said: “I forgive you, Michelle. I forgive you for the past two years. I forgive you for losing your way, Michelle.”

Using your name in this practice is key. And I’ve heard that doing this in front of a mirror is a big deal too. 

I focused on becoming more self-aware. 

I already have a high level of self-awareness, but I believe that we always have room to grow and improve. Being self-aware and understanding my likes, dislikes, and feelings is something I will always put focus on. It’s one of those things that if you don’t work on it regularly, things start to slip, and you can easily fall back into bad habits. 

Renewed curiosity.

In 2017, I became painfully aware of the fact I closed myself off a bit to the world. Now, I’m an INFJ, so it is something I naturally do. But, if I let it go on for too long, it can become damaging. So this year, I made it a priority to be curious again. 

What does being curious look like? It’s asking questions, being inquisitive, and looking at the world with an open mind and open heart. 

I practiced self-love.

When was the last time you focused on yourself? And I mean loving every part of who you are? It’s been a while, hasn’t it? For me, it’s been a long time. It’s hard to believe that we forget about the most important person in our lives — ourselves. 

The healing and work I needed most was to believe in myself again. When you’ve had multiple setbacks and significant life changes in a short period, it can be hard on you. It can chip away at your confidence. 

Creating a workspace/living space I feel comfortable in.

While on the surface, this might seem minor and a money waster, it was not. I occupy a 150 sq. Ft. Room in my parent’s home that is my office, reading nook, and sleeping area. 

For the longest time, the electric purple on the walls left me feeling on edge. I felt the space wasn’t truly representative of how I wanted to feel and who I was. 

So I made the space light and airy, created a reading nook and a proper workspace, and removed my television. 

There are still a few more finishing touches, but I feel more comfortable and calm working and sleeping in the space.

Finding my purpose/mission in life. 

We’re all searching for this one, aren’t we? And I’m happy to say that I believe I’ve found mine. After receiving plenty of signs from the Universe, I came to the conclusion that it is my purpose to inspire, empower, encourage and teach others to live life to their full and true potential. 

It’s taken a long time for me to get to this point. 

The best advice I can give is to keep searching, keep taking action, and eventually, you’ll begin to notice synchronicities. The Universe will start to let you know that you’re moving in the right direction. It can come in the form of compliments from friends, family, and colleagues and little “epiphanies” that happen when you’re reading a book or listening to a podcast. They’re those, AHA! moments where you’re like, “Oh my gosh, a thousand times YES to that!”

desk with laptop, coffee and notebooks

Failures for the year

I did not prioritize self-care as much as I wanted to.

Self-care is one ritual that I wanted to do a lot more of. Most weeks, I managed my weekly self-care Sunday session, but there were times that I went without very little. I was too focused on my business and neglected the fact that I am my biggest asset. When you work freelance, you MUST take care of yourself because you are the writer, photographer, blogger, designer, and CEO — you are everything that keeps the business going.

In this last quarter of 2018, I’ve been focusing on at least 15 minutes of self-care each day. I plan on keeping this going for 2019. It’s come in the form of worry/gratitude journaling, bullet journaling, replenishing hot baths at night, digital detoxes with a reading session, and more. 

I did not get fit this year.

Oh, don’t we all want this? Am I right? I wanted to be cycling, running and doing yoga regularly in 2018. But here’s the thing, when you’re stressed out, burnt out and utterly exhausted, it’s challenging to get your body moving.

Thanks to a recent naturopath visit, I found out I was operating from a stressed-out place. She told me I’ve been through a lot in the past two and a half years, and my body hasn’t had a chance to calm down. 

Thanks to her help and a new book I’m reading, I’m getting my body back into alignment and reducing as much stress as I can.

Moving my business forward.

Maybe I’m a bit hard on myself here, but I expected to be farther along in my business than I am. I’ve tried many times to launch my freelance website, but it just hasn’t happened. I’ve made it a priority for 2019. 

On the blog front, however, things have been amazing! I’ve more than doubled my readership. Yay! I’m grateful for every one of you that reads this blog of mine. While I haven’t grown my social or email list as quickly as I’d like, I’ll take this win of amazing blog growth.

Paying back all my debt. 

For obvious reasons, this did not happen. I’ve been working hard to keep up, but it’s key that in 2019 I dramatically increase my income.

Read more about my focus points for 2018, along with 5 questions to ask yourself to have your best year ever. 

How I’m moving forward – grow and change

Each year, I choose a new word or intention for the year. While I haven’t quite committed to 2019’s yet, I’ve been leaning toward the word “alignment”. As I think about it more, it seems an appropriate follow-up to “rebuild.”

One thing I’ve discovered in all my years in corporate jobs and working to achieve things personally is that SMART goals don’t work for everyone. I’ve written about them on the blog, and I’ve tried them out, but they’re not for me. Well, at least not in the traditional sense. 

For me, I accomplish goals best when I attach a feeling to them. If I’m able to envision myself completing that goal and what it would feel like, I’m more likely to accomplish it. 

You can throw all the numbers and deadlines at me, and it doesn’t stick. Because here’s the thing — what happens when you hit that number?

What next? Do you just stop? 

Most of you will say, well, duh, just set a new goal Michelle. Okay, fine. What if I’m not done with that goal? What if there’s more to learn and grow into? And what about maintaining something?

Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds, and you set the goal, “I want to lose 20 pounds by May 31st, 2019.” Well, that’s just great. Then what? 

You micromanage your scale and give up at the first sign the weight is not coming off. 

Instead, I’ll tell myself I want to lose 20 pounds, but I expand on that. I say I want to FEEL energetic again. I want to be thriving, and I want my clothes to fit well and not be so tight.

I visualize myself happy, healthy, wealthy, fit, and strong.

By doing it this way, it’s something I can maintain. 

Instead of aiming for a finish line, I aim for lifelong maintenance. 

5 Simple Questions to Help You Reflect on Your Year

Here are 5 simple questions I like to ask myself:

  • What did I accomplish? What am I most grateful for?
  • What were my failures or areas to improve? This is the perfect opportunity to change things up. And that equals major growth!
  • How did I feel throughout the year? Describe the past year in feelings.
  • When did I feel inspired, alive, and lit up, and why?
  • How did I grow and change?

Taking the time to reflect on the past year will help you to learn and grow and avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. While at the time it might seem painful looking back at the year, you’d be surprised at what you can learn about yourself and what direction you need to take next.

Comments +

  1. Kerstin says:

    This is just super cool Michelle, thank you! I’m excited about answering the questions. Thank you for the experiences you’ve shared here and on Instagram — they’ve helped me through some challenging times this year. Although I wouldn’t want to relive the challenges of 2018, I know I’ve grown stronger as a result. I hope 2019 brings different challenges, and I’ll be honest, maybe less gut-wrenching!! I’m looking forward to hearing lots more from you in 2019!!

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks Kerstin! I’m so happy you feel less alone and have grown stronger! That’s one of my missions here is to help others know that they’re not alone and to create community.

      Not to worry, big changes are coming in 2019 and everyone is coming along for the journey!

  2. Sandra Simplicity says:

    Hey Michelle, thanks for inspiring me to use those questions to reflect on the year. To be honest, I never did that… But I guess is time to be more intentional. Thank you! Happy Holidays 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Sandra, I hope they help you as they’ve helped me. 🙂

      Without intention, we lead a life led by others. Keep going, stay focused, you’ll get there!

      Happy holidays! 🙂

  3. allisongonzalez2017 says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. As I read I felt your heart in every word.

    I usually have a list of things I want to do each year based on Gretchen Rubin’s idea of so many goals in the year you do them. For instance, I had 18 goals in 2018. These goals were sorta like SMART goals, like get to the dentist or walk 365 miles. They all had to be done that year. Though most of my goals enhance my life and help me reflect on myself, you made me realize with this post that I also need to have those non “SMART” goals like be energetic or lead with love. Just general goals to intentionally live everyday.

    Thank you for reminding me that I need to work on myself in many ways besides just goals.


    • Michelle says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      I couldn’t agree more. Too many goals can get overwhelming. Especially the SMART kind. It’s like a never-ending list of deadlines. We all need to balance those out with some heartfelt goals and focus on how we can better enjoy our lives without all the deadlines.

  4. Awesome post! This really inspires me to set myself a similar challenge for next year and see how far I can go to be able to look back on next year.

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