Another year is behind us and a new beginning greets us! Leaving 2019 was difficult in some ways. Maybe it was for you, too? Though a difficult year, it was also a year of great learning and growing. For some, the new year is an arbitrary date. Truly, any day is a great day to make a change; but, for many of us, the newness of a fresh year helps to revive and motivate us toward making important changes.
Though a few ideas crossed our mind for this year’s theme, it wasn’t until we remembered the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20” that the theme was solidified. So, we have selected Hindsight as our theme this year. Therefore, this year will be a year of reflection – reflecting on our lives and relationships, reflecting on our work with couples, and gaining insight from the reflections of others. No matter how futuristic a thinker you may be (where Eric is… and I am not), it is a good idea to slow down and review where you have been. We can gain a lot from reminiscing about life’s journey.
Twenty Reflections for Your Future
As you prepare to rock another year, or maybe just move through it serenely (which sounds amazing to me!), think through the categories below. Are you happy with your life in these areas? How have you approached each topic in the last five years? Ten years? Is it time for a change? Are you excited about the growth you have seen in certain areas? We encourage you to read, reflect, and to journal your thoughts. Writing your reflections now can help you reflect more in the future.
- Spiritual Habits. Am I happy with how much time and energy I put into spiritual disciplines such as Bible study and prayer? How have my habits up until now affected my life and relationship with God and others?
- Time Together. Are we spending enough time together? Is the time we are spending together quality? Have we grown closer as a result of how we spend our time or is our relationship weakening? Which behaviors do we want to cease, and which new behaviors do we want to adopt?
- Health Practices. Have our eating and exercise routines been working for us or against us? Are we experiencing health problems from our diets? Are we too obsessed with exercise? Do we rest enough? Do we put off going to the doctor when we are sick or when we notice concerning signs or symptoms? How do we wish to handle our health in this new year? What has worked and what has not worked in the past?
- Future Planning. Are you content with how much thought you (or you and your partner together) have previously given to your future? Do you need more focus or a better idea of where you are heading? Are you at peace with what is planned and what is not? Based on the past, do you wish to spend more time discussing and/or planning regarding money, children, potential moves, career plans, etc.?
- Priorities. Looking closely at my life, I clearly prioritize time on my phone entirely too much. Additionally, I prioritize entertainment over spiritual disciplines. What does your life show to be your priorities (versus what you claim you want them to be)? Are you happy with them or do you want to shake up your life? What needs to change to make the priorities you write on paper to match your actions? (e.g., I need to lock my phone up a few hours a day and study the Bible and pray before turning on my TV each day, etc.)
- Hobbies. Do you leave enough time in your life for hobbies? Are your hobbies taking over your life? Do you have balance in this area? Are your friends and family suffering because of your hobby or hobbies? Are they suffering because you do not spend enough time on your interests?
- Thoughts. How much time do you spend entertaining negative thoughts? Are you careful about what you allow into your mind (cf. Philippians 4:8)? In hindsight, have you been leading your thoughts or have your thoughts been leading you? How has your past thought life impacted your present life?
- Cleanliness. An awkward but still necessary question: are you happy with your personal cleanliness? Are you happy with the cleanliness of your living and working spaces? In retrospect, how have your cleaning and grooming practices (or lack thereof) impacted your life?
- Clutter. Do you have too much clutter and not enough ambiance in your home or living quarters? Which beliefs about material possessions do we need to reconsider? Which items are important, beautiful, or truly sentimental and which items are burying us in clutter?
- Routines (or lack of routines). Are you a servant to your routines or are you in control of your routines? Are they stringent? Are they fluid? Do they exist at all? How have your routines, or lack of routines, affected your life thus far? Is there a need for change?
- Selfishness vs. Selflessness. When you look over the last ten years of your life, do you see a pattern of selfishness or selflessness? Are you happy with what you see? If not, what are your desires for growth? How has your selfishness and/or selflessness affected your relationships?
- Understanding. In the past, have you taken the time to understand your significant other? Your family? Your friends? When they share a different point of view, are you quick to roll your eyes and dismiss them; or, do you take the time to try to understand them? Have you researched their personalities and found ways to be more empathetic with them? Does this area need work in your life? Even as someone who empathizes naturally, I can still see my need for improvement in this area.
- Finances. How money is handled directly affects your life, and your partner’s life, and can cause a lot of conflict. Has your handling of money thus far worked well and brought peace for your life and relationship? If married, are you content with your money management and how money is managed between you and your partner? If you are still dating, are you both content with how the other handles money? What has the past taught you about finances and how you wish to manage them?
- Forgiveness. Ruth Bell Graham is famous for saying, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Has your past been filled with forgiveness or have bitter seeds been given the chance to sprout? Which, if any, barriers in your life have made forgiveness difficult? How can those barriers be removed?
- Spoken Words. How do you speak to one another (cf. Luke 6:45)? Over the course of your relationship, has your speech grown more sweet or sour? What do your uttered words reveal about the contents of your heart?
- Friendships. How much time and energy have you invested in creating or maintaining friendships in the past few years? Do you need to spend more time or less time on friendships? Looking back over your life, what have you learned about the importance of friendships?
- Giving, Sharing, and Serving. Serving others, shopping for others, and sharing our blessings with others is a surefire way to stop thinking about ourselves. Perhaps the biggest reason so many of us are discontent is because we are too self-focused. After all, we live in the age of selfies, self-help books, and therapists who tell us nothing is our fault and everything is others’ fault (sounds very similar to what happened in the Garden of Eden!). Looking back over the past five years, how much time have you (or you and your significant other) spent pouring into other people? How much time do you plan to volunteer over the next five years? Which changes will you make to accomplish your plan?
- Intimacy. For married couples, have you taken the time to prioritize intimacy – sexually and emotionally? For dating couples, in the past year, did your dates draw you closer together and help you gain a deeper understanding of each other, or were they mostly geared toward entertainment and instant gratification? Are you happy with the intimacy you shared in your relationship in the past year? Five years? Ten years? What have you learned in the past and what do you want to change for the future?
- Learning. Up until now, what has been your approach to learning? Do you think, “I learned enough in school!” or are you fascinated with learning? How has your approach to life-long learning affected your quality of life up until now? How has it affected your relationship? How much do you want learning to have focus in your future?
- Choosing to Grow (or Choosing to Quit). Recently, I came across this quote on Facebook: “One of the hardest decisions you’ll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder.” Over time, life gets heavy – disappointments, dreams unrealized, and life not turning out the way you hoped. If life is not going the way you had hoped, you may be tempted to check out and give up. What have you been through in the past which motivates you to keep pressing forward? Have you ever quit something in frustration and lived to regret it? What have you learned about growing versus quitting?
Over this year, we are going to reflect on our relationship and learn from other’s reflections also. Please join us on this journey and share it with others who would benefit from some hindsight as well. Please also let us know what you learn as you reflect on your past. This is a great year to talk to your parents, grandparents, and mentors and learn from their journeys!
Happy New Year!!!
With one hand, the past moves us forward; and, with the other, it pulls us back. – Lilith Sternin (Bebe Neuwirth) on Frasier
Are you ready to do some reflecting?
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