Whose life are you living? That was the question I asked myself when I turned 30. I was a successful lawyer living in the beautiful city of San Francisco, married to a man I loved. I was happy. Yet I felt I was not fully living the life that I wanted.

As a kid I was creative, intuitive and so different from the rest of my family – I wanted to be a chef or an art historian or a theatrical make-up artist. But I fulfilled the dreams of my immigrant parents by becoming an attorney and consultant. I worked hard and was successful, but I never felt I was being my authentic self or following my path.

There was something missing. It took me a few years and a lot of thinking, reflecting and writing to realize I was living someone else’s story, someone else’s dream. It was through reflecting on my stories that I discovered what I value, what lit me up, what I was meant to do.

You don’t have to be living someone else’s story to benefit from checking in and reflecting. And the end of the year is an amazing time to do it!

Looking Back – Get Curious, Notice

Your past, your experience, your stories have a lot to teach you about who you are. 

Thinking about and reflecting on your stories helps you gain clarity on what you really value. You get clearer on how you manage struggle successfully, what your strengths are, how you’ve gotten through hard times. 

And when you look at the past, you start to notice what makes you feel alive and engaged and what sparks joy, what gives you the most energy, makes you feel awe or gratitude. And then you can add more of that to each day. 

Looking back allows you to release what’s not meaningful or joyful to you and instead spend more time on what energizes you, makes you feel alive and aligns with what you value. Yes, we still need to clean the house, work to pay the bills, sit in the car…but making small adjustments in your day can have a big impact.

  • Take some time to think about these questions:
  • What were the highs and lows of this year?
  • What did you accomplish or feel proud of?
  • What were moments of great joy, wonder, or contentment?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What did you struggle with?
  • How did you overcome challenges or get through hard times?

What aspects of the past year do you want to pull with you into the new year? This has been a crazy year, so don’t be too quick to decide. Perhaps what gave you joy has changed. Did you find you have more grit or perseverance than you thought. Maybe you know which friend you can turn to or how to tap into your own compassion better. Notice what the joys and challenges of the past year have to offer you.

Looking Forward – Pay Attention

Are you already thinking about goals and resolutions? Dreams and plans? Resolutions so often fail, but getting clear on core values and really focusing on what you want in your life can have a big impact—especially if you think of it as a 90-day focus rather than a year-long commitment.

Consider one or more of these questions along with what you’ve already discovered from thinking about the past year:

When you look back what are the activities that made you feel engaged or in flow – how can you add more of these into each day?

What do you want less of in the new year? What can you release?

What do you want more of?

What change do you anticipate, expect, or hope for?

What challenges is the new year likely to bring?

What are your dreams for this year?

What do you wish for?

What would your ideal day look like?

When you write about dreams, you help solidify them and make them something you are more likely to work towards.

Here’s to dreaming and clarity and to releasing what’s not serving you.

Want to do this together? Join me on December 15 for Goals and Dreams – Looking Back, Moving Forward online through The Hivery! We’ll look at what we overcame, the joys and resilience we discovered in 2020… and how those can lead us forward into our goals and dreams. Join me for a 90-minute workshop. You’ll leave:

  • With a direction forward and tools to keep you on track
  • Knowing how to use reflective journaling to learn and grow from your own stories


Want to feel more engaged and energized? Get your copy of 3 Steps to a Meaningful Life You Love!