In the busyness of the season, it’s easy to forget about reflection. This is because it’s hard to pause and remember what happened in the last year given everything going on in the daily logistics of being a mom. It just ends up not being a priority. But if you want to make long lasting changes in the future, like stop yelling at your kids or lose the baby weight or anything in between, it’s actually important to start with reflecting on the past. The way you think about your past has a huge impact on how you approach future goals and transformations. For that reason, doing a year end reflection is powerful as well as helpful.

In this episode, you’ll learn why it’s important to do a year end reflection as a mom as well as twenty questions to ask that you can journal about or answer on the go that will help you actually do the reflection.

The way you think about last year matters. Learn how to create last year’s story on purpose in this episode.

If you’re a mom, you’re in the right place. This is a space designed to help you overcome challenges and live your best life. I’d love for you to join me inside Mom On Purpose Membership, my coaching community for moms where we take this work to the next level.

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Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast, where it’s all about helping moms live their best lives. My hope with this podcast is you’re more inspired to become the mom you are made to be. I’m Natalie, your host, a wife, boy, mom, dog lover, Chicagoan, and former lawyer turned professionally certified coach. If you’re here to grow, I can help. Let’s go.

Hello my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I am so happy to be here with you today talking about how to reflect on the year as a mom. Before we get started, I just have to say I am delighted, excited, and giddy right now. Right before I’m recording this, I made a decision and that decision is going to be transformational for my business and the content that I offer you here and in my program and just all good things to come in the future. And I cannot wait to tell you. I can’t break the news yet, but stay tuned. There’s going to be some big changes and it just means that I’m going to be able to overdeliver to you in even better ways than I ever have before and that energizes me. There’s nothing I am more passionate about than doing this work with you maybe and also in my own life, because the impact of that means I am able to show up as the woman I want to be, as the wife I want to be, as the mom I want to be and as the coach that I want to be. So little teaser, I’m sorry I can’t share more with you yet, but there is so much goodness to come and I’m just so appreciative of you being here. I know I keep saying it the last few episodes, but as I’ve been reinventing myself and my business and my life, I just think about you so much and I have so much gratitude for you being here through all of my transitions and as I grow and I hope that you are growing along with me as well.

That is of course the point. So with that, let’s dive into today’s topic, how to reflect on the year as a mom before we actually dive in to the content. I do want to mention that in Grow You this month, we are diving into Goal Setting, how to set goals in a simple and effective way so you can get what you want next year and beyond. And then in January I’m teaching a new class on weight loss and eating better as someone who has lost 40 pounds twice now postpartum. And before I was ever pregnant I had lost 25 pounds and I’ve done it permanently, you know, but for getting pregnant, of course, I have I think a very easy and simple way of teaching weight loss that combines my unique experience as well as my training. I probably don’t talk about this enough, but I’m certified as a weight loss coach.

It was part of my coach training and so I have tools. There’s already a course since I grow. You called Change Your Eating Habits Forever, but this is going to be a brand new class that I teach in January. So tis the season, right? December goals January food and weight loss. So get in there. I think now is the best time to join because you get to join for $79 and you get all of this month’s content and next month’s content and the program will grow with you. Most of my clients, you know who you are, if you’re listening, you stay for years and I just love that so much because it really reflects how I’ve created the program and that’s what I want. I want this program to grow with you. So I love seeing that it’s actually working. It’s a win for me as a coach and then it’s a win for you of course.

Alright now as we are kind of thinking about goal setting and weight loss and, and kind of what’s happening in our lives this year and beyond, I thought it would be fun to do a how to reflect on this past year, particularly as a mom. So I’ve noticed a transition in myself in the past. I really took a lot of time thinking about the past year and setting myself up for success for goals in the upcoming year. And as a mom who is hosting and who just for a little while longer, a couple weeks longer has I have two under two. I noticed a little bit of a shift in how I think about and reflect on the last year, but also just in priorities. And so I want to offer to you what I think is the default. I think this is my default and as far as I can tell, many, many, many of my clients’ default.

So I think this could be your default as well. Just think about if this sounds familiar. So on default, our brain likes to think about the upcoming three to six months ahead. What we need to do for ourselves, for our work, for our home, for our family, for maybe travel for our kids. So in my mind I am thinking about signing up RJ for preschool or swim lessons. I’m thinking about birthdays and holidays. I’m thinking about gift giving and hosting and shopping and I’m thinking about any home projects. It’s sort of like on default there’s this to-do list type of energy that I think is rooted a little bit in scarcity. It’s sort of like the go-to thoughts about what’s going to happen that what’s upcoming, what do I need to take care of as mom? And it’s not that this is bad, I do want to sign RJ up for swim lessons for example.

It’s just that on default it takes up a lot more space in my mind than I want it to. And I think that’s why I don’t spend as much time or haven’t, you know before doing this work, reflecting on the past when I have two under two it feels like “I don’t have time.” And that of course isn’t the case. It’s just that my time right now is going off of what my default brain offers to me, which is this kind of three to six month ahead projection that it wants to focus on. And instead of doing that, what I suggest is writing down and calendaring and using some sort of system to get those types of thoughts and plans out of your mind so that you free up space for thinking about what’s important to you. And thinking about the last year, because without doing this, I think we end up sort of go, go go and and that type of energy and also those actions and we don’t stop and we don’t pause.

And any reflecting that we do do comes in the form of disapproving of the last year. I didn’t lose the weight. I didn’t start drinking water every day. I didn’t start waking up earlier. I didn’t stop yelling at my kids. I didn’t fix my marriage, I didn’t contribute enough to the family income. It’s looking at the past from lack sort of like in between moments in between the busyness of life. The only reflecting that sort of happens is the brain looking for what went wrong. Now remember what I teach with the motivational triad. This is what all healthy human brains do. It looks for problems to solve, it looks for danger, it wants to keep you safe and alive. This is very useful if you are running out into the middle of the street, you want to make sure you don’t get hit by a car that is coming towards you.

It is not so useful when we are thinking about reflecting on the past year, focusing on the negative without actually doing it in a useful way isn’t helpful for you. And then what I notice, it’s not just that we do that and sort of go on about our lives, we actually get mad about it and reject ourselves. We say things like, I’m not good enough. I can’t figure it out. I’m behind. I should be further along because I didn’t lose the weight because I didn’t stop yelling at my kids. I am bad. Is basically the sort of shame cycle that I think is so common for myself and for my clients. And I don’t know if you’re resonating with this at all, but maybe for you. And the problem with this, aside from the fact that it sort of damages the relationship you have with yourself, but it also doesn’t work because we end up trying to grow from disapproving of ourselves.

We jump on the New Year’s bandwagon of wanting to “be better.” But the sub thought there is I didn’t do a good enough job last year and so I need to change and get it into high gear here this next year. I am not a good mom, I need to stop yelling. And so what’s happening there is you’re punishing yourself into changing. I think truly the worst part of that is how it makes you feel and how it damages the relationship you have with yourself. So then you don’t trust yourself and you have so much more self-doubt. But if that is not compelling enough for you, it also doesn’t work when you try to change from this place because you get really mad at yourself and you’re frustrated with yourself and you try to make change from that energy and it’s exhausting. And instead of kind of having the curiosity glasses on that I talk about where you’re investigating what worked, what didn’t, what you can try next with respect to any of your goals.

Let’s say you want to lose weight or stop yelling instead of deciding what else you could try. It sounds like I can’t do this. See, I grew up in a household with yellers. I’m never going to figure this out. My kids deserve so much better. I yelled again, I can’t figure this out, I can’t do this. And the same is true with the dialogue for weight loss. And of course none of those thoughts are true. But when you approach change from that place of disapproving of yourself, it feels so harsh and critical that you will want to slow down, take a break or quit. I call it the self-sabotage process. And it is terrible because then you don’t create the result that you want. Not because you will be a better human in terms of there being some vertical hierarchy, but because if you have a desire on your heart to change, I want you to know that you can make that change just because you want to.

If you want to change next year, if you want to set and achieve goals, whether it’s internal, like you know going through the process of becoming a mom who doesn’t yell or external like making more money or losing weight, that’s very quantifiable. The most important work that you can do is to change your relationship with your past. So you stop running from who you were in the past and you start loving your past self, you respect her, you’re kind to her. And then from there you can grow without those sort of harsh, critical, negative self-talk and therefore negative feelings. And it’s almost like hate towards yourself. Even though I don’t think outwardly we call it that. Like I don’t walk around saying I hate myself, but I definitely have a tendency to say I’m not good enough. I can’t figure this out, I’m so behind, I should be further along and I coach myself out of those thoughts thankfully. But I think that without knowing how to do that and without doing this work, you will believe those thoughts. You will think that they are just facts and they’re not my friends. They are thoughts that are not helpful at all.

So you can grow and you can change and you can create the results that you want in your future. And the best chance that you have at doing that is by creating the feeling that best suits you to pursue that transformation. I think that the best indicator of your success is going to be the goal fuel that you have. So if you are motivated, if you love yourself, if you feel content, if you feel inspired, you are so much more likely to keep going to pursue what it is you want than if you are frustrated, mad, irritated, upset. Now this isn’t to say that you have to be happy all of the time in order to achieve your goals. That’s not what I’m saying. I just want you to notice if when you think about the last year you’re mad at yourself, you think you didn’t do it right, you think you’re not further along or where you should be, you think you’re behind, those seemingly innocent thoughts will stop you from creating the future that you want.

So it’s so important to be kind to your past self and to reflect on the last year intentionally. It doesn’t have to take all of the time. You don’t have to write a book about why last year was the best year, but I’m going to give you some useful questions and journal prompts that you can consider even if it’s just while you’re, you know, cleaning, driving in the car or just you know, doing other things. You can think about these things. You don’t have to take a lot of time. It’s the intention that you set. It’s that mindset that you create. If you do that, then you’re so much more likely to set yourself up for success next year. And I don’t even mean necessarily guaranteeing that you achieve your goals, I mean guaranteeing that you go after what you want because that’s what it’s really about.

I think back to when I really wanted to get married and have a family and how I just had this low grade fear that it was never going to happen. I mean it was pervasive, but I decided that as long as I was alive and as long as I had this desire on my heart, I was going to keep trying and I didn’t get married until my mid thirties. And for me that was like over a decade, 15 years of, of dating and wanting that one result. And so it might not be this next year, it might be and that would be amazing, but the point is not to achieve your goal in the fastest time possible. If you’re in a hurry, it’s most likely because you’re disapproving of your current self.

And you know, people will say to me, well if I like myself, if I approve of my life right now, then why even grow it all? And my answer is just because that’s who you want to be in the world. You have a desire on your heart and you want to show up as a person who pursues that desire and it might take you six months or 12 months to create the result you want. Or it might take you 10 years or 15 years. Are you going to fight for it? Are you going to keep going just because that’s who you want to be? That is the energy that can fuel you to create the change that you want. For a lot of you, you met your spouse and you got married and it was your high school sweetheart or it was your college sweetheart and that wasn’t your journey.

But we all have something that takes longer than we think. And how you wait while in waiting is important. It indicates your likelihood of success and how you wait while in waiting is up to you. You can decide to wait from knowing that you will create the result you want. You can decide to wait in appreciation, you can decide to wait in expectation, in future focus. But it takes managing the mind. What do I mean by that? I mean that primitive brain on default doesn’t want to wait, it wants to go into sort of self-preservation. It wants to say things like, I’m not enough. I can’t figure this out. I should be further along. I’m not good enough. But you don’t have to listen to that part of your brain. I often use an analogy of putting that in the backseat. I can’t get rid of your primitive brain for you and I wouldn’t want to and you wouldn’t want it to be gone either.

It’s useful, it has helped us survive. But you have to override that part. You have to talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself. You have to put that part in the backseat. So when your brain says I should be further along, you say, that’s not true brain, I hear you and it’s just not true. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and I’m deciding who I want to be in the future. Okay, that is the art and the science of coaching yourself. The science is the actual process. The art is making it your own based on what your default brain offers you. All of us have different default brains and so the way that you talk to yourself will be different from the next person. It’s just important that you do that process for your own sake. Okay, hopefully I have sold you on why it’s important to be kind to your past self and to have a good relationship with your past self and to reflect on the last year intentionally.

Now I want to offer you useful questions that you can either kind of ask yourself and just sit with or journal about. I’m going to give you a bunch. I think there’s like close to 15 or 20 here. Take one or two or do all of them, but don’t use them against yourself. What I mean by that is don’t think that because I’m offering you this many that you need to do all of them. If right now you have capacity to do one question that is better than doing no questions, you with me?

Alright, number one, what are you really proud of from the last year? Number two, what are your top three emotions from the last year? Number three, why were those your top three emotions? Now remember as a listener of this podcast and a student of this work, the answer needs to be what you were thinking. The reason you felt however you felt wasn’t because of your circumstances, it was because of what you made them mean. So when you answer this question, why were those your top three feelings? It should start with because I was thinking…. And then whatever you were thinking, don’t be mad at yourself. Just look at it from a place of loving curiosity to learn about yourself. That’s all we’re doing here is we’re learning about ourselves.

Number four, if last year was a movie, what would the title be? This one is one of my favorites because I think on default we create a title anyways, like, Last Year Was The Worst Year Ever. And we don’t realize that through that lens we are just creating more negative results for ourselves. And that doesn’t mean you want to go to Last Year Was The Best Year Ever, but when you intentionally ask yourself to create a title, I think you’re much more likely to do it from an empowered place. So if you had a rough year last year, you can create a title that embraces that and also makes you feel empowered. Like, I Didn’t See Last Year Moming And I’ve Learned So Much or something like that. You might have to brainstorm. But the key is to create a title that feels true for you and empowers you. Empowerment means that you feel fueled by confidence, hope, possibility love. You will not feel stuck and defeated. That’s why I often would wouldn’t say like last year was the worst year ever. I’m much more likely to say last year had a lot of challenges that I didn’t see coming and I learned from them and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. And yet that is what it was and that’s okay, I’m growing through it. Do you see how that is so much more empowering?

Number five, what challenges did you face in the last year and how did you work through them? Number six, what were your biggest failures from the last year? I love to separate out challenges from failures because sometimes our failures are challenges. Often they are, but it’s not the same to say that challenges are failures. So for example, I’m thinking of someone in my extended family who is diagnosed with cancer. That is a challenge that this person is going through, but it’s not a failure. So I like to separate out challenges from failures. Number seven, what lessons did you learn from the last year? This is one of my favorite questions and as I was brainstorming these questions for you, I was thinking to myself how much

I have learned in the last year that without answering this question, I wouldn’t have had awareness of. I learned how to change plans.

Do you remember that we had put down money non-refundable money, a lot of non-refundable money to buy a house in South Carolina and we decided to change plans and forfeit the money and move back to Chicago. I learned so many lessons through that experience. I learned how to think about money as happening for me and how to think about it as me playing the game. I never want to think “I lost money.” That thought is not useful. I will never think that thought. It’s just not useful. I learned how to put my family first and how to be a better wife. I learned how to navigate a cross country move with a toddler while pregnant. I learned that I could have a VBAC after having a C-section. I learned how to navigate two under two. Those were kind of the first lessons that came to my mind as I was creating this list and I’m sure there are so many more. And so answer this question and I think you will have so much more appreciation for yourself.

Okay, number eight, what was your best habit from last year and what was your worst habit? Number nine, what do you appreciate about last year? Number 10, what are you proud of yourself for last year? Number 11, write a letter to yourself thanking yourself for the last year. I think this is so important because so often we are looking for validation from outside of us that we just never get. And I think that’s okay. I think that means that it’s an invitation for us to do the work to thank ourselves. I was just coaching my client on on, on this question. She’s a private one-to-one client and I was offering to her some suggestions and it got her teary-eyed. And that is just from me saying those things to her as an example of how she could thank herself.

It sounds kind of silly or like it wouldn’t necessarily work like we need to be thanked from other people, but it’s simply not true when someone else thanks us or shows us appreciation, that’s our circumstance. So we only feel moved by it and appreciative and love when we have a thought like that was so nice, they’re right and all we’re doing is validating what they say. And so we can create that validation for ourselves. So write a letter to yourself, thanking yourself for last year. Who influenced you the most last year? Number 13, who are you most grateful for last year?

Number 14, who did you love on the most last year? Number 15, what did you love about last year and what didn’t you like so much?

Number 16, what do you want to continue doing in the future that you did last year? For example, maybe you started a new tradition or maybe you went on new family vacations or maybe you started practicing some of these tools. Just think about what you really liked that you did last year and how you want to continue doing that. So it’s a proactive decision. Next question. What do you want to stop doing in the future that you did last year? So it’s kind of the opposite of the one before. Next question. What do you want to start doing next year that you haven’t done in the past? This sort of gets to how we think about New Year’s resolutions and you know, I didn’t work out, I didn’t drink water, I didn’t sleep enough, I didn’t stop yelling. Like it’s very easy to notice what we didn’t do and come up with this huge list of things we should be doing.

But instead of shoulding on yourself, just choose one thing that you want to start doing next year that you didn’t do last year. I’ll never forget, I think it was like 2011, it was a long time ago, over a decade ago I said a New Year’s resolution to start flossing. At the time I had not been flossing. This was such a small change, but the compound effect of more than a decade later and I’m still flossing, just shows you that making a really small change and sticking to it is so much more important than deciding I’m going to have the most changes and then not sticking to them. So bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better consistency. What is one thing that you can add and be consistent with? And I always like to say you can always add more, but start with one.

Okay, next question. When did you feel most inspired from last year? I love this question so much. I love to feel inspired and I hope that the work we’re doing here is inspiring you. And the last question, what does your future self want to tell you about last year? What advice does she have to give you? Love, love, love this question. Our future self is so wise and she can give you such good advice and words of wisdom from the last year. All right my friend, I love you so much. Thank you for being here and I will talk with you next week. Take care.

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