The end of one year and beginning of the next offers a unique opportunity to both reflect back and plan ahead. Because I’ve been a journaler and list-maker since I was very young, I’ve always loved this time of transition and chance to start fresh.

If you read my life-changing books post, then you know that much of my reading has led me to the same conclusion:

Prioritize the people and activities that are most important and fulfilling and spend your time connecting with those people and doing those activities.

What better time than December to reflect on things that make us feel happy and end the year feeling positive and grateful?

Here are five simple activities that I’m doing this month. All of them can be done solo, but they are also excellent activities to do with friends and family. I hope you’ll join me this month in spending some time stepping back from the craziness of day-to-day life and reflecting.

Write a Reverse Bucket List

Rather than writing a traditional bucket list of things I’d still like to do, this is a reverse twist on the activity. It’s more of a “life gratitude” list. Writing a list of the amazing or influential things that have already happened in your life leaves you feeling less anxious about what is still undone and more grateful for all that has already occurred.

When I created my first Reverse Bucket List, I listed some of the events and achievements over my entire life. It was a fantastic way to realize that, although there are still things I’d like to do, mine has already been an amazing life, and I have so much to be grateful for.

I started with a regular list written on paper, but later I may add photos and create a small book of some of the cool things that have happened in my life. It will be like a mini memoir photo book.

I’ve also used this Reverse Bucket List practice as a quarterly and as an annual reflection. When I’m feeling overwhelmed that I didn’t do all the things that were on my “list” for the month, I step back and list what I did get done.

What are things I did and saw this year that I’m grateful for?

Rather than my usual focus on goals for the year ahead, the practice of thinking about and writing down what has already happened is a great way to increase my gratitude and focus more on what has already been accomplished.

100 Family Memories

Every December our family makes a list of 100 family memories from the year. This year marks our 12th year of doing this year-end remembrance activity, and we all look forward to it. Now that the majority of the “kids” are adults living away from home, it’s extra fun to hear from everyone what they remember as their own as well as our family’s collective memories from the year.

We use a notebook or legal pad and usually share scribing duties over the last few weeks of December. This year, we will be creating the entire list over the final week of 2019, when we’re all together for vacation from school and work.

I describe our 100 memories practice in this video and you can read more about it here.

Pick a Quote of the Year

This is something that’s fun for a quote-loving, reading, and writing nerd like me! I have a humungous quote board on Pinterest, and I love collecting and sharing inspirational quotes.

This month, I’ll spend some time reading through my favorites, then I’ll write down one that best reflects or represents this past year.

I’ll also find a quote to guide me for the coming year, one that will remind me how I want to live my life. I’ll keep it posted prominently as a reminder.

Pick One Word

If a quote is too much too think about, how about picking just ONE WORD to guide your next year?

I’ve now picked a one word for the past three years:




I spend time selecting the word over the month of December.

Here are some tips for choosing a word from oneword365:

Focus on being rather than doing.
Different than resolutions, your one word isn’t a constant reminder of what you “should be doing”. Instead, it stands to inspire how you want to live. Think about who you want to be, and choose a word that will help you become that.

Be authentic.
Your word should reflect YOU, and no one else. It’s easy to listen to others’ words and then pick one that sounds good. But you want a word that’s uniquely yours… one that resonates with you on a deep level.

Don’t overthink it. 
It’s not rocket science, and there’s no wrong answer. Don’t analyze it to death! It’s simply about identifying the word that keeps coming back to nag at your heart. Keep an open mind and heart, and pay attention to the word that you see, hear, and recognize the most in the coming days…

And the process I use includes these steps:

Step 1: Determine the kind of person you want to become.

Step 2: Identify the characteristics of that person.

Step 3: Pick a word.

This is another activity I’ve enlisted my family to participate in. On New Year’s Eve, everyone reveals our One Word for the following year.

Remember Your Favorite Books

I read a lot, but sometimes I move on to my next book without taking the time to reflect, take notes, and remember what I enjoyed most about the book. Instead of keeping up my reading of new books this month, I’m focusing on re-reading and reviewing what I’ve already read.

I’m going to look back over what I read this year (I keep track on Goodreads) and take notes on what I remember and enjoyed most about the book. As a new author, I know how important reviews are in helping people find great books, so I’m going to take time this month to make sure I’ve written reviews on all of my favorite books from the year.

Books are another way to reflect on ideas, insights, and stories.

If you’re not a reader, you could also list your favorite music, TV shows, or movies from the year! Can anyone say THIS IS US? (I love that show so much!)

Are you going to join me in trying any of these year-end activities? I’d love to hear what you try!

Thank you for reading. I appreciate you being part of my community.

Happy 2020!

Related Posts

Learning to Enjoy the Little Things

100 Family Memories


My One Word for 2019: Focus

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