Do either of these describe your last year?

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The last year was rotten, and you feel like you could have accomplished more.

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The last year rocked, and you feel like you hit your goals and then some!

Whichever one you picked, they both represent how you feel. But how did you actually do?

Follow these steps to objectively realize how you grew this last year.

Step 1: Don't Focus On Comparison, Focus On Compassion

Comparison is the thief of joy. - Theodore Roosevelt

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. - Gautama Buddha

This is about you and where you are.

This is not about where you compare with other people.

This is about taking stock of where you were and where you are.

You may have reached goals and advanced in some areas. You may not have seen the development you wanted in others. That's ok. Be truthful and accept where you are.

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This year Cy's doctor helped him find a therapist to help his depression. The PCP is working with Cy to find effective medication to manage his symptoms. Because others are helping, he's not sure if he should evaluate his mental health journey.

Step 2: Decide How You Want To Measure Your Progress

First, decide what goals mattered to you in the last year.

Perfecting circle drawing for Art class or gaining responsibility at work only matter if either of those were important to you. If perfecting your handstand or building your emergency fund were where you put your energy, however, then circles are cool but not relevant.

Second, choose how to measure your progress.

You can determine progress by actions completed (going on a long bicycle trip with friends) or by using quantifiable variables (miles bicycled).

Below are some suggestions of measurement types.

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Physical health

  • Finding a doctor to diagnose what was bothering you

  • Blood pressure measurements

  • Staying sober

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    Mental health

  • Finding and/or going to a therapist

  • Managing symptoms

  • How you feel

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  • Amount saved in an emergency fund

  • Paying off a car loan

  • Credit score

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Living Space

  • Keeping houseplants alive

  • Keeping spaces clean

  • Painting or re-decorating

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School / Academics

  • Grades and graduation

  • Acceptance to programs

  • Papers published

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  • Going "no contact" with a harmful family member

  • Coming out

  • Having roommates that you like

  • Reconnecting with old friends

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Work / Career

  • Receiving a raise

  • Finding a new job

  • Annual evaluation grade

  • Earning a Sommelier certification

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Art, Hobbies, and Passions

  • Completing a quilt

  • Figuring out how to draw hands

  • Submitting a story for publication (and having it accepted!)

  • Hours volunteered

Step 3: Honestly Evaluate Where You Were And Where You Are

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To determine where you were with any of these measurements, you don't need to rely on your memory. Some helpful sources are:

  • Social media archives

  • Journals

  • Email archives

  • Past bank statements

  • Conversations with friends and family


Cy is evaluating the work he put into his mental health last year. What resources would he find useful?

Step 4: Reflect On The Results

Flaticon Icon Whether you feel you've ended your year "better" or "worse" than you started it, your reflection will point out what went well and what went poorly.

For example, Cy in the question above looked through his resources.

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  • He changed medication once during the year.

  • For one month, he stopped taking his medication, evidenced by not filling his prescription that month.

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  • He's getting better sleep.

  • His one month without medication was accompanied by restless sleep.

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  • They notice that he's more active and seems more "at peace" with himself than before.

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  • He just feels better!

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  • He made a lot of progress on determining and coping with common triggers for his depression, and his medication helped with this.

  • The month where he didn't re-fill his prescription showed some of his old feelings and habits creeping back in.

By evaluating his year, he's noticed that he's gained mental health overall, but he's also learned that his medication is an important part of his treatment, for the time being at least.


Has Cy's ability to care for his mental health grown in the past year?

Take Action

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Being willing to look back on your year and measure your success is brave! You're doing a great job just by deciding to do this. You'll learn so much about what did and didn't work!


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