Do either of these describe your last year?
The last year was rotten, and you feel like you could have accomplished more.
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.
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.
Cy should absolutely reflect on this.
Cy should ignore this.
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.
Finding a doctor to diagnose what was bothering you
Blood pressure measurements
Finding and/or going to a therapist
How you feel
Amount saved in an emergency fund
Paying off a car loan
Keeping houseplants alive
Keeping spaces clean
Painting or re-decorating
School / Academics
Grades and graduation
Acceptance to programs
Going "no contact" with a harmful family member
Having roommates that you like
Reconnecting with old friends
Work / Career
Receiving a raise
Finding a new job
Annual evaluation grade
Earning a Sommelier certification
Art, Hobbies, and Passions
Completing a quilt
Figuring out how to draw hands
Submitting a story for publication (and having it accepted!)
Step 3: Honestly Evaluate Where You Were And Where You Are
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
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?
His Fitbit's sleep records
Conversations with friends
Records of anti-depressent prescriptions
His journal of therapy homework
Step 4: Reflect On The Results
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.
He changed medication once during the year.
For one month, he stopped taking his medication, evidenced by not filling his prescription that month.
Fitbit Sleep Records
He's getting better sleep.
His one month without medication was accompanied by restless sleep.
Talking To Friends
They notice that he's more active and seems more "at peace" with himself than before.
He just feels better!
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?
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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This Byte has been authored by
she/her/hers | Curriculum & Instructional Designer