Looking forward at the start of a new year is traditional. But it's just as valuable to take a few moments to look back at the year that is drawing to a close.
The frenzy of year-end work, shopping and parties may leave little time, but even 30 minutes of reflection and action can bring results. Here are some ways to find that time:
* Get up half an hour earlier than usual, or stay up a half-hour later at the weekend.
* Schedule a lunch-time date with yourself and go to a quiet place.
* Take several mini-breaks (as short as five minutes each) over a period of a week.
* Arrange to meet up with a friend and have a joint "looking back" session. Or make it a family activity - start a new holiday tradition.
For reflection on the past year, the following questions are worth pondering:
* What has gone well for you?
* What positive impact have you had on people around you?
* If you've had any difficult experiences, what lessons did they offer?
* What was your favourite moment?
For action, the following are worth considering:
* How can you say "thank you" to the people who have given you the most support?
* How can you give an extra word of encouragement to people (students, colleagues, family members or friends) who might need it most?
* How can you acknowledge your positive achievements? (And, if applicable, how can you learn from anything negative and move on?) * What's the greatest gift you could give yourself? This doesn't necessarily mean a material thing; for example, some of the best gifts are forgiveness, learning to relax, changing negative health habits, and making time to express your creativity.
Maybe it's a mirror of our society that we say, "time is money". Time is also achievement, learning, love, and sometimes loss. By combining reflection and action as the year ends, you can honour yourself and the year that has passed, and help prepare yourself for the coming one.
Jurgen Wolff is a hypnotherapist, teacher and writer with a regular slot in 'Friday' magazine. His most recent book is 'Do Something Different', published by Virgin Business Guides. See: BstormUK@aol.com