03 December 2013

December Introspection

Personal Photo

As the years stretches to its end, December seems to be the best month for a bit of contemplation and introspection. I find it to be a very good way to wrap up the year, take away some good moments and learnings, and prepare the way for 2014.

Since I am in an Advent Calendar mood, I decided to cover 24 mini-themes to think about, please feel free to pick and choose those relevant to your situation. The rule is simple: whenever you have a bit of down time, you pick one of the 24 subjects and think about it. You can choose whatever form suits you best, I have decided to record it in a notebook.

The Daily Introspection

The objective of this short introspection is simple: figuring out how you did in 2013. What small victories to celebrate, what you learned about yourself in the process. What elements were more difficult and why, so you can take away the lessons for next year. If it helps making things more concrete, here is a more "formal" list of topics to think about, and you will find below a personal example to illustrate it.

- Today's Introspection:
- My 2013 objective/wish was:
- What I succeeded at:
- The difficulties I encountered:
- The key learning I can remember from 2013:
- My objective for 2014:

Personal example (from the mini-topic #2 below)

Today's introspection:
Body Shape
My 2013 objective was:
Getting an overall fitter body with more muscles and less fat (with a stable weight)
What I succeeded at:
Maintained regular Body Pump sessions to work slowly on my muscle endurance and shape
What Difficulties I encountered:
Had to adjust the workout sessions to integrate them within my routine despite holidays, business trips etc. Had to adjust clothing sizes and shape as my body started to change a bit (broader shoulders for example made all my fitted shirts too small, on the contrary I lost a pants size and my skinny minis are too big now...)
Key Learning for 2013:
Daily habits can be modified with trial and error - do not persist in maintaining a habit that clearly doesn't work (in my case sports in the morning before work), but find a solution that makes the habit easier to stick (at lunch time for my case)
My Objective for 2014:
Start a workout programme based on muscle strength and actively lower the fat percentage in favor of more muscles. Keep weight fluctuations within +/- 3kg over the year.

24 mini-themes

Here is a proposition of 24 mini-themes for this December introspection. I based these on the 4 areas of level up: physical, mental/spiritual, social and creative growth. I tried to make these as generic as possible but they might not all apply to your lifestyle and objectives, so please feel free to pick and adapt them to your personal needs!

Physical/Health Growth

#1 - Healthy eating: Implementing or maintaining food habits (Can cover special diet objectives, cooking objectives...)

#2 - Body shape: attaining or maintaining a certain shape (Can cover weight gain/loss, getting a fitter silhouette, maintaining a healthy body shape...)

#3 - Sports/Exercise: Reach or maintain a certain level of regular exercise (can cover workout objectives, running distance or time, a specific sport you practice and compete alone or in a team, or simply walking more, biking...)

#4 - Looks/Style: Work on wardrobe/style/outfits (can cover wardrobe editing, finding or refining personal style, purchase habits objective, overall feeling of "bien dans sa peau")

#5 - Body Care: Taking good care of one's body and health (can cover beauty routine,  institute/massage treats, working on a specific illness or chronic health problem...)

#6 - Overall Wellness: How confident are you in your body compared to last year (more general, the evolution of self esteem, body related complexes or issues, evolution of overall health objectives...)

Mental/Spiritual Growth

#7 - Culture: Devoting time to discovering new pieces (reading books, watching films, visiting museums, new music albums, video games, or whatever your field is)

#8 - Discoveries: Find out more about new topics, travels, learn something new (travel to a new country, meet people who share their vision of the world, discover about new topics for example via TED talks or books...)

#9 - Learning Skills: How did you progress in the skills you are learning? (it can be an art, musical instrument, cooking or sewing, a new language, new code of web design tool, a skill at work...)

#10 - Meditation: Did you devote time to paying attention to what's going on in your body and mind? (it doesn't have to be actual meditation, it can be simply taking the time to assess your life, emotions, path and objectives, a religious contemplation activity like prayer...)

#11 - Happiness/Contentment: How fulfilled to you feel compared to last year? (can cover overcoming a difficulty from the year before, some subjects of insatisfaction, desire or objective to change something in particular like job...)

#12 - Overall Mental and Spiritual Evolution: How much did you grow your skills, self discovery and  contentment this year?(more general growth objectives, of overall mental well being, happiness, satisfaction, knowledge level and skill objectives...)

Social Growth

#13 - Family Care: How did your relationship to your family evolve? (it can be reconnecting with family members, nurture a couple, taking care of the kids, spending more time with the family...)

#14 - Friends Connection: How did your friendships evolve? (it can be making new friends, reconnecting with lost buddies, devoting more time to maintaining close friendships...)

#15 - Social Habits: Did you implement new social gatherings or parties? (it can be an objective to meet new people, go out more often, spend more time with specific people...)

#16 - Work Goals: How did your job/career/personal business projects and connections evolve? (I wasn't sure if it should be in "social" or "mental growth" depending on the type of job, but decided that being inserted in a work environment was a social thing, even for people with their own business, you need to connect with clients or partners etc. in order to make it work)

#17 - Social Circles: Did you meet new types of people, did you engage in new activities? (the difference with #15 is that it is about enlarging and diversifying social circles in a way - like engage in a new activity, volonteer in a new association, meet people from another cultural or social background... it is a way to be more open minded)

#18 - Overall Social Well Being: How did your 2013 social environment evolve? How happy are you with your current situation, did you overcome specific challenges or had difficulties with something in particular? (can cover more general topics of feeling lonely or not, insertion in a new city or job...)

Creative Growth

#19 - Creative Project: If you had a creative project in 2013, how did it evolve? (can cover DIY projects, artistic ones like writing, drawing, photography, web design or coding, any creative projects you may have at work if you are lucky to have a creative job...)

#20 - Creative Skills: did you learn something new to improve your creative abilities? (can cover courses you learned, books read, new techniques you may have learned etc. on creative skills you already work on)

#21 - New Creative Field: Did you engage in totally new creative activities this year? (can cover anything you created, lessons you took or things you tried to learn yourself...)

#22 - Visibility of your Creations: If you created things in 2013 or before, did they become more visible to new users, more popular, did you work on spreading them to a wider audience? (can be publishing your books or drawings, putting photographies in a gallery or simply opening a portfolio website, sharing DIY or recipes with friends or online...)

#23 - Reviving old Projects: Sometime, life happens and we give up side projects. Did you pick up any back this year?

#24 - Overall Creative Fulfillment: Are you satisfied with the time you devoting to creativity this year? (can cover any general self actualization obectives, projects etc., personal or professional)

I initially wanted to post this on the first of December so it could be a mini introspective Advent Calendar but life happened. I hope you like this little experiment, please don't hesitate to share your feedback on that idea! If there is any topic you'd like me to elaborate on, please let me know.


  1. Bonne liste! Propre, efficace. Je dirais même facile, mais ce ne l'est pas. Ça m'a fait réfléchir... :-)
    J'espère que tu va partager avec nous les petites réflexions sur chacun de ces points.
    J'aime bien te lire. On doit être dans le même état d'esprit, c'est pour ça que ce que tu racontes me parle...

    1. Merci! Je me demandais justement si les 24 petites idées étaient claires et pouvaient s'adapter aux circonstances de vie de chacun. Je suis contente d'entendre que ça te parle! Je vais sûrement reparler de mes réflexions sur ces différents sujets au cours du mois de décembre, avec des posts de bilan etc. J'espère que ce sera intéressant aussi.

  2. I love this idea! This year has gone by SO fast, and I definitely need some time to sort it out in my head. Also, I've been wanting to write in my journal more, so this gives me lots of great ideas! Merci!

    1. That's great, I'm glad to hear it inspired you for your own end of year round-up :) Good luck on your journaling!

  3. what a great idea! i am currently thinking about my resolutions for 2014 (i normaly dont even make any, but this year i feel like it). after i tried to be more aware of my consumtion habits and figure out my style and values i want to level up in other areas as well. i like the videos anna akana does on youtube regarding this topics, do you know her?

    this list is very helpful to structure my goals. but also, as you intended makes it easier to reflect on the past year. i learned about the importants of reflection and transfer in educational science in uni but i keep forgetting that it is also important in day to day life.

    1. Thanks, I'm glad this experiment actually makes it easier to reflect on 2013 for you too! I don't know Anna Akana but I'll definitely go check her videos out, it sounds very interesting. I'd love to hear about your 2014 resolutions once you've made them :)

  4. What a great idea and such a clever way to pave the road towards 2014 and remember that enjoying new experiences and acquiring new skills is way more helpful in term of self-confidence and happiness than collecting stuff… even if stuff can help, too. Thanks for sharing : - )

    1. I'm glad you like the idea, thank you! At first I just wanted to find 24 random little ideas, but I thought it might be more exhaustive to actually cover the various fields of growth, I'm happy it helps :)

  5. This is a great idea. I should think about my 2014 resolutions and habits that i would like to change.

    1. Thank you, I'm glad you like it and I hope it helps for your 2014 objectives :)

    2. I wrote 2014 instead of 2013 :) Thanks, it will definitely help for my 2014 objectives :)

  6. I really love this! I will be doing this in my journal, I really need something like this. Its been a tough year and this will help me to process and review, and hopefully think of ways to bring more healthy thinking and spiritually into the new year!

    1. I'm so happy to hear that! Especially after a tough year, it can be good to reflect on the difficulties, as I think we learn a lot about ourselves in difficult moments. I hope this will help you start fresh and more positively for 2014 :)

  7. Awesome! Can't wait to participate and post some on my blog. Fantastic idea.

    1. Great! I'd love to read about it on your blog :) Thanks!

  8. This is a great idea! Did you set specific objectives/wishes for each of these things at the beginning of 2013, or are you are planning on just reflecting on how those aspects of your life evolved over the course of the year?

    1. That's a good question! I had objectives for some of these points, like sports, or devoting more time to writing and blogging. Some things just came up during the year like the violin or deciding to learn about photography. And for some, I'll just reflect upon how the year went as I didn't really think about it ahead. I hope it helps me being more mindful of each of these topics in 2014 by setting some objectives though :)

  9. This is such a great idea! I'm definatelly doing it!

    1. I'm glad you like it, thanks! Would love to see your lists :)

  10. Love your blog, I have been reading a lot of articles about consumption. This one by George monbiot is great http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/25/spend-dont-mend/
    Cant believe how we all get sucked this idea of mindless consumption.

    1. Thanks for the link, I'll be over and reading it right now! I think we have been raised in a consumerist society, so it's natural for most of us, we don't think twice about buying new stuff all the time.

      One of my great-grand-mothers is still alive, and that's how I realized it's really a generation thing, because her mindset is very different. Much more into buying quality and taking care of it for years, mending or getting a used one from a neighbour or family member before buying new... What strikes me the most is not how much we buy, but how much perfectly usable stuff we throw away all the time. It's scary.

  11. Amazing post, as usual! I don't nearly comment as often as I should here, but your blog is one of my all-time favourites, I love every single post! Please don't ever stop writing ;)

    1. Thank you very much for this kind note! I enjoy your blog a lot too, even if I too don't comment very often :)

  12. Love this so much. I've sat down to write an entry everyday since your post and it's been such an enlightening exercise. I have typically been writing each entry in the morning as I drink my tea and eat breakfast, and it wasn't until today when I had a busier/rushed day and resorted to writing my entry late at night that I realized the positive influence this morning routine was having on "shaping my day". Luckily, I probably only realized this because for some reason I chose to write about the "meditation" topic! Turns out that journaling or reflective writing is a really helpful tool for me to set intention and focus to my day. I'm loving all of the subtle patterns I'm starting to tease out as to why certain goals stick, and why others fail miserably. Really great!

    Just wondering if you're familiar with any other resources for reflective writing such as prompts or exercises? I found this e-book that I was considering purchasing for my kobo (http://www.amazon.com/365-Journal-Writing-Ideas-self-reflection-ebook/dp/B00B52SGXK) as a gift to myself for the holidays, but I was wondering if there are some quality free resources floating around that I'm not aware of. I'm really hoping to continue to journal in the new year but I know it doesn't come naturally. Since your prompts have been so helpful I was hoping to continue in the same vein until my reflective writing muscles are a little more flexed :) Anything you could share would be super!

    1. I'm glad to hear the exercise is useful to you! I've been doing it as well these past days and it also made me realize some things and see stuff more positively. I don't have any specific free resources to share in English on the subject on top of my mind right now, but I've read about a few things:
      - a gratitude journal: A practice to write about things you are grateful for during the day. I do this when I write on my journal, I always start my entry with one particular thing I enjoyed today. Some write down 3 little things they are grateful for today for example. Or make some gratitude lists - in the morning writing things you are grateful for to start the day on a positive touch.
      - If you like writing, I suggested a self esteem experiment a few month back - you write a description of yourself and your life as if it was an author describing their main character to readers. It helps seeing your life from an external perspective (http://the-nife.blogspot.ca/2013/05/self-esteem-experiment.html)
      - if you take a look at my source page, there are quite a few sites/blogs who offer some exercises and experiments like this one. For example Becoming Minimalist, Zen Habits...
      Of course if I stumble upon great resources I'll share them on the blog :)

  13. J'aime énormément cette idée !
    Je lis beaucoup de choses sur internet, je me pose mille questions en permanence mais jusque là j'ai toujours eu du mal à voir mon chemin parcouru et qui reste à parcourir... Paradoxalement, c'est plus facile toutefois avec le côté matériel : j'achète moins et mieux, j'arrive à désencombrer mon espace et ma garde robe. Tout ça je m'en rend compte avec ce que je note dans mon carnet (je fais une double page par mois avec les in/out, les bouquins lus et films vus etc) mais j'ai toujours du mal pour le côté mental et forme physique.
    Bref, je vais te piquer tes 24 petites idées :) et voir comment s'est réellement passé 2013, avec ses bons et mauvais côtés, et comment bien gérer 2014 qui arrive !

    1. C'est une bonne nouvelle que cette ressource te soit utile! C'est vrai que c'est plus facile d'évaluer les progrès au niveau matériel qu'au niveau des expériences, du bien-être, de la confiance en soi etc. Je trouve aussi que de prendre des notes dans un carnet fonctionne très bien pour moi. De faire des "check-ups" réguliers aussi, pour éviter de tomber dans la routine et d'oublier de rester attentif. Je me demande si je ne vais pas réutiliser ces 24 idées pour faire un check-up bi-mensuel en 2014, on verra... J'espère que ça t'aidera aussi de ton côté!