As we say goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023, it’s important to see the upcoming year as an opportunity for a fresh and brand new change.
Rather than quickly jotting down your New Year’s resolutions, spend extra time in the upcoming days to honestly reflect on this past year. Creating this clarity can help you set realistic goals and identify what you truly want for yourself going forward.
Whether you had a good, bad or everything-in-between type of year, ask yourself these seven questions to guide you in shaping your goals and dreams for the year to come!
1. What are the first thoughts that come to mind about your past year?
A good starting point is simply your first, instinctive thoughts about the past year.
The point is to be honest with yourself with this opening question — this will lay important groundwork for your self-reflection and help you discover what you’re seeking in the new year. You can even write your answer down, if it helps you to think it through.
Allow yourself to express your full range of thoughts and feelings, from positive to negative. Be as descriptive or detailed as you’d like. Are there certain words that come to mind? Specific themes? If you were to summarize last year in one sentence, what would your sentence be?
2. What goals have I achieved this year?
No matter how big or small your goals were, chances are, you’ve successfully achieved at least a few of them this year! No need to be shy — this is the time to acknowledge all of your successes as either a student, parent, friend, or family member.
Your successes may range from mastering a skill you initially thought was too tough, developing positive habits, or doing better than you did before on a test or in a class. It may even involve pushing yourself past your comfort zone in an area of your life, be it academic, personal or social.
If you look closely, you can find something you’re really proud of. Take a moment to appreciate your growth and how far you’ve come along. You can even identify which goals achieved were most important to you; doing so can reveal what you are most passionate about.
3. Which goals did I not achieve?
At the same time, you may have set yourself goals throughout the year that you weren’t able to reach. Maybe you had trouble earning goal scores or reaching a personal milestone. Maybe you wanted to get more involved in a certain activity, but couldn’t find the time.
When reflecting on this question, make sure to not berate yourself for not completing every single one of your goals! There may be times when your attention is devoted to specific goals over others, depending on where you are in your life.
For the goals you planned but weren’t able to achieve, this is where honest reflection is key.
What were the reasons for not having reached specific goals? Were there steps that you missed or hadn’t taken? Lastly, what can you do differently in the year to come in order to achieve your goals? Maybe it’s improving classroom performance by asking teacher for extra help or participating in MEK’s tutoring programs. If you’re stuck in a cycle of academic struggle, read this blog on how MEK’s tutors can help you get back on track for success.
To get to your goals you can ask a friend or family member to be your accountability partner or develop a concrete plan that breaks your goals down into actionable steps.
4. What were my biggest challenges and insights this year?
Challenges are a fact of life — they happen to the best of us. From difficulties such as balancing a full workload while applying to college, or even the effort of navigating your daily schedule, there may have been times when you really felt like you were struggling. And those struggles may have shown up in your class grades or test scores.
Identifying these challenges and thinking about what they’ve taught you can give you greater perspective. You survived! Use this knowledge to your advantage as a reminder of your capabilities and resilience. Remember, without challenges, we stay the same. It’s only when we get out of our comfort zone and confront the new and unfamiliar, that we’re able to discover even more of our inner strength.
Plus, if you were able to push through this year’s difficulties, be confident that you’ll be able to manage anything that comes in your way in the new year.
And remember, you can always ask for help! For example, MEK’s HS Honors Courses are designed to help students master subjects such as Algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Geometry, and Advanced English. It even helps you ace your school finals!
5. What were my top personal strength(s) I used this year?
In every situation, you bring your unique set of strengths.
Personal strengths will vary from person to person, but reflecting on where you specifically excelled can grow your confidence in that trait or task, as you look forward to your future goals.
Think about the challenges you confronted, the goals you achieved, and the activities you engaged in. What were the innate traits or characteristics you own that helped you along the way? This can be in any area of your life, whether personal, social or academic.
Maybe you’re a really strong communicator, writer or visual thinker. Perhaps you’re imaginative or incredibly driven when it comes to your favorite activity, hobby or sport.
These strengths are qualities you can feel proud of, and which can be brought to the goals you pursue throughout the year.
6. How have I changed the most this year?
This might be a tough question to answer, since at first, you might feel like you aren’t so different from the person who began the year.
However, look more closely! Chances are, in responses to experiences throughout the year, you’ve changed at least in one area of your life, whether in attitude, perspective, habit or practices. Maybe you weathered a challenge or life circumstance that made you think or act differently to specific situations. Maybe you’ve developed a new habit or automatic response as a way to cope with challenges.
Compared to the beginning of the year, do you feel like your changes are helping you evolve as a person? If you found certain changes to be negative, can you think about how they served a purpose for you at the time, and how you can move forward in a more positive way?
By acknowledging just how you’ve graduated from the person who you were at the beginning of the year, you can deepen your self-understanding and intentionally clarify who you want to be in the future.
7. How do you want to make this year your best year yet?
Now is your chance to review all your answers up until this point, to shape your vision for 2022!
Overall, what were the most positive elements of this year that you want to carry over into the new year? What are habits or attitudes that you’d like to shed and leave behind? What are the goals you weren’t able to get to this year, that you still want to achieve?
A great place to start is to think about your end goal, which for most people is college.
Once you have a big end goal in mind, ask yourself: What I can do this next year to get me closer to that goal?
If you’re in high school, the answer probably lies in preparing for college admission tests such as SAT, ACT, or Advanced Placement exams. Top scores on these tests pave the way to admissions in competitive schools, earn you scholarship money, and even give you college credit.
Get started by taking an initial SAT/ACT practice test to see where you stand. Then start planning a first and second test date and map out your preparation plans.
If you’re in middle school, your next step may be preparing for a high school admissions test to a prestigious academy.
You can also think about activities, academic competitions, or volunteering opportunities that can help you build up your resume, learn new skills, showcase and develop your talents, or help you discover your interests.
Similar to our first question, are there certain words that come to mind when you think about next year? Specific themes? If you were to summarize your ideal 2023 in one sentence, what would your sentence be?
Write this sentence down! Keep it somewhere nearby as a reminder to yourself of your intention.
Get Ready for the New Year
Want more expert help? MEK is ready to support you in all your 2023 goals. Download our Spring 2023 Catalog to see all of our test prep and academic enrichment courses for 4-12th graders or contact us to get started!
Experience a moment of appreciation again when you reflect on how much you’ve grown this year, and the strengths you exercised when confronting your biggest challenges! Hopefully, our questions helped you to recap this year’s journey, and to bring clarity towards painting your canvas in the new year to come.
Don’t forget: your energy, capacity for growth, and biggest strengths can all be applied to your dreams and resolutions for next year and beyond.
We hope this New Year brings everything you hope for and decide to do! Happy New Year!