It’s the end of another year. A time of reflection.
This time of the year can bring up a lot of different emotions and for many of us, it can be one of the hardest times of the year.
Instead of feelings of nostalgia and gratitude that leave you content and blessed, we are left with feelings of regret, frustration and even a little bitterness.
If you are anything like me, I find myself quite often in moments where my thoughts are more like this…
“This. Year. Sucked.
Once again, I didn’t do shit. Like how does one even go through a WHOLE year and not manage to make even ONE of their goals?! Oh, that’s right, because I didn’t do crap.
No goals met. Didn’t get to do anything I ACTUALLY wanted to do, everyone else got to travel, start a family or get amazing jobs, have cute houses, ACTUALLY, live their lives and all I did was waste another year of my life.
I’m in exactly the same position just only fatter and further from the progress I needed to actually do to make something of myself.”
Yeah, harsh I know, and a pretty ugly downward spiral.
BUT, it’s true. We’ve all been there, that place where we can get really down on ourselves and it’s often worse than we realize.
When we look back on the year and how our hopes and dreams and plans to be better didn’t quite pan out the way we wanted, we are left with this inner dialogue of beating ourselves up and really seeing the worst in ourselves.
I’ve been there too.
That feeling of the lowest of lows that you’ve even already given up on trying to set goals or make plans for the next year. Progress? Yeah, that’s already out the window.
I’ve given up a few times before too.
AND I found myself asking the same question you are probably asking yourself right now.
‘So what do I do now? What am I supposed to do?’
Well, friend, it’s time to fight back against the hate you give yourself. It’s time to fight back against the negativity you have towards yourself that comes along with the end of the year crisis you find yourself in… every year.
And today I’m going to share 5 Tips to Help You Combat End of the Year Self Criticism to equip you with the strength to overcome the negative self-talk and transform your mindset leading you to a place of contentment and kindness.
1. “I didn’t do ANYTHING this year…”
The most common thought we tend to beat ourselves up over every year is the feeling that we didn’t do enough or accomplish enough. From not reaching our goals to this sense of lack inside of us, we look back on our year and feel as if we didn’t do “ANYTHING.”
The most common ‘solution’ people say for this is being more clear and specific about what YOUR own personal definition of enough is and while we do believe this is one of many steps that can be helpful…this year taught us something different. We learned that the feeling of enough doesn’t come from a completed checklist, but instead it’s about the intangible things.
“Stop looking at your to-do lists, checklists, or goals as your measure marker for success or accomplishments.”
Sometimes you have years where you find yourself feeling like “you did a lot.” Whether that be checked off many tasks, reached multiple goals, or just felt overall more active and doing more throughout your days/months to give you this sense of I accomplished a lot this year, I actually did “stuff.” Other years, you may feel like tasks weren’t finished, goals weren’t made, and you felt stuck or unmotivated or just plain ol’ feel like you didn’t do anything that made you feel you didn’t live your life the best you could this year.
BUT… you are basing the results of a great year off of only one scale, the scale of ‘action.’ However, if you take a step back and look at some of your best years you may find that those weren’t the best years because you crossed off more tasks than any other year, they are the best years because you found yourself growing as a person, you found yourself becoming closer and closer to being a better version of yourself. What happened to you throughout that year impacted you.
“A great year isn’t defined by the number of things you accomplish, but off of how much you expand and improve on the inside from the life you experienced good or bad.”
Take some time when you find yourself thinking, “I didn’t get anything done this year” and think about not what action you took this year, but instead on how much you’ve grown as a person this year. The best years, even during our worst of times, are the ones that teach us, help us grow to become the best versions of ourselves and every step of growth is more worthy than any task we do or do not check off. Finally, remind yourself that “every year without any effort we continue to evolve to become the person we are meant to be, that part happens to us for us, not by us. This year you added another piece to the puzzle and that is what matters most.”
2. “Everyone else did all these great things this year and I wish I was able to live like they did.”
Ah, the life of comparison. A trap that is all too easy to fall into. A disease you can’t seem to get rid of. We call these thoughts of wanting the life of others and feeling like crap compared to the perfection of others the comparison game.
The simple solution so many provide is to stop comparing yourself to others. And what we say to that? “HA!.” Easier said than done right? Overcoming comparison requires the right tools and mindset to help you work through those negative thoughts that leave you feeling paralyzed and full of pain that you feel helpless to do anything let alone make yourself feel better.
That’s why we wrote an entire post on five steps to help you overcome comparison to provide you with the right actions you need to take to build a healthier solution to struggle less with comparison.
3. “I just wasted another entire year of my life.”
We call this the “wasted time” mindset. We look back on the past year and feel like we wasted a whole year of our life. From not doing anything to spending your time doing the wrong things, we are left with this sense of a year spent of our life that we will never get back that we wish went a completely different way than it actually did.
Like our first tip, it’s time to shift your mindset from evaluating a good or bad year based on what you did and instead reflect on the year based on what you value most. For instance, personal growth and learning the many lessons of life are much more valuable than the daily scramble of tasks and goals.
Another practice to implement into your life to help you grow a more positive mindset is working towards replacing goals with intentions. Setting intentions remind you to let go of controlling what you do or do not accomplish in your life, but rather digging deeper into realizing what you truly value in life and what you really want for yourself. Writing out intentions then allows you to be in alignment with the Universe (Or God or insert your personal beliefs here) to provide you with the experiences and inspired action to give you the life you truly want. I wrote a blog post all about what Intentions are and how to set Intentions which you can read here.
Setting intentions brings you clarity to see that it’s not about the things you do in life that are important it’s about how you feel and why you want to feel that way. This practice can help you see your time spent throughout the year in a way that doesn’t make your worth depend on goals, but on how you feel in your life.
- I also wanted to include a BONUS TIP that is a little more tangible that has helped me to look back on my years and realize that I haven’t wasted as much time as I thought. It helps me see in this moment I’m being too hard on myself and I did do a lot more in the year than I am giving myself credit for.
There is an app I discovered through a friend called The 1 SEC App (1 Second Everyday). It is a one-time fee paid app, but I highly recommend it and it is totally worth the investment. What you do is you film 1 sec or 2-sec videos every day (or you can include an image instead) and at the end of the year, it will compile all your videos from every day of that year into one video. So you can watch your whole year in a short video. It really is the cutest idea and a wonderful way to capture your memories…AND to realize you did a lot more in the year than you think. So every time you may be feeling down on yourself, you can look back on this video and see that these memories are more important than the negative self-talk you’re hearing right now.
4. “X, Y, and Z happened this year, this was just not my year. It was a bad year.”
When tragedy strikes, or we’ve had a stroke of bad things happen one too many times to us this year it’s easy to say, “WELL it certainly wasn’t a GOOD year.” Am I right? Or maybe we had some bad experiences, went through some heartbreak, or something tragic happened to us or loved ones and we’re left feeling like “this was not our year” or maybe “this is a year I wish I could forget.”
Bad things happen to everyone all the time AND most especially, when you’re in the thick of it, the last thing you want to hear or do is “positive thoughts.”
The most encouraging thing I can say to you here is this, you are not in control of what life throws at you. When you go through bad experiences, no matter how big or small, you are not to blame for what happens TO you.
This year was a rough one, in order to feel better about the year you’ve had you need to surrender. Stop trying to control the things that are going on in your life. Evaluating yourself and your life is a form of trying to control things too, try taking a break from the self-judgment and allow yourself to feel the relief of no longer trying to reach certain standards. The Universe (or God or please insert your personal belief here) is shaping you and your destiny, where you are right now is exactly where you need to be. Take your thoughts of “this year sucked” and instead think about how you are where you are meant to be.
Yes, it is the “bad things” that happen to us that shape us to become the best versions of ourselves, but that isn’t comforting when you are in the midst of your pain. Another way to stop yourself from going down an ugly spiral when you’ve had a bad a year is to understand that the world works in a balanced state. The saying the pendulum always swings is a mantra to say to yourself. Simply, things cannot always be ALL good or ALL bad, life swings back and forth between the two and sometimes stops in the middle for a little.
If things are bad for you right now, you feel they are at their absolute worst, then that can only mean one thing. That the pendulum is about to swing the other way, things are going to move towards getting good again. Life cannot always be in the bad phases, it’s against even the laws of physics. Take comfort that you’ve been through the tough times, you made it through the storm, and that better is on its way.
4. “I wish I got to do more fun things, travel even, have more adventure. All I did was work and spent all this time doing things for others and holding up my responsibilities.”
If you are a people pleaser like me, then you can definitely look back on your year and think well I just spent a year doing a lot for others and didn’t really get to spend any time having fun, going out and doing things that I want to do.
Maybe you feel like you spent more time working and doing chores and, well, “adulting” than you did getting to do things that are more fun and enjoyable for you.
While “you can’t go back and change the past” is the most common phrase thrown around, there are still some things you can walk yourself through to help you get through this “beat yourself up” mindset.
The first step to take is to stop beating yourself over the fact that you work, or fulfill your obligations, or stay on top of your responsibilities. You may choose to do those tasks over others because deep down they are what are more important to you, they are what are in alignment with your values. Take some time to think about your personal values and it may help you to see that you are living your life according to what is important to you and there is nothing wrong with that. It may be a little off-balanced, but you shouldn’t be ashamed or upset over living your life your way especially if it’s time spent on things you value.
Secondly, if you are a little off-balanced and not spending as much time doing things you love or want to do then all you can do is accept this past year as a year that created self-self-awareness, brought you clarity, and taught you a lesson.
As Oprah says, “now you know better, you can do better.”
I highly recommend listening to this podcast episode by Oprah, Know Better Do Better, to help you refocus your mindset not on the “lack” of this year, but instead on forgiving yourself and being ready and excited to move forward.
The end of the year can be a wonderful time and a bit overwhelming, full of highs and lows, and you can be left with mixed feelings.
I hope that by walking through some of these most common mindsets that it helps you to feel better and overcome those negative thoughts about yourself and the year that is now behind you.
Sometimes it’s not about looking behind you or looking ahead, it’s about focusing on right here right now and processing your thoughts and working through them before you plan for change.
It is important to know how you feel and to be able to get yourself to a place where you feel content with yourself before you take the next step forward.
Your life is yours, don’t let you or anyone else stand in the way of how it is evaluated on a scale of a good life or bad one. Love it all, the good and the bad, and believe that you’re living your life the way you are meant to.