By Nellie Umutesi-Vigneron

Although it’s meant to be the season of goodwill and happiness, December can be stressful and hectic with its many demands:  work expects you to close out major projects, you have to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, attend and look good for all of the holiday events you’ve overbooked yourself for, get your house looking immaculate for your out-of-town guests and instantly turn into hostess extraordinaire for the duration of their stay!  Words such as depleted, tired and anxious also come to mind when I think of December.

In the midst of all of this, I make it a priority to take a few days out of the month to reflect on the passing year and the coming one.  I have always enjoyed this yearly ritual with pen and paper handy.  There are three parts to my ritual: reflection, selection and removal.

Reflection is always the critical starting point and I believe the most difficult, because it requires honesty with one’s self.  There can be no transformation without honest reflection.  This part is not intended to beat yourself up for not having accomplished all that you set out to do earlier in the year, but more to reflect on your accomplishment and give yourself a gentle and loving reminder that there is still work to be done.

Here are some of the questions I like to ask myself while reflecting:  What was the current year vision for myself?  What are the tangible steps I took to get closer to my vision?  What are the areas I procrastinated on or did not do as well as I wanted?  Why didn’t I do as well as I wanted? What do I want to accomplish in the coming year?  How will I accomplish them?  It is important to be objective and kind with yourself.

The selection process is where I determine what I want for myself in the coming year. Who do I want to be, what do I want to learn or what areas I need to improve on.  There are various areas of your life to consider such as spiritual, physical, mental, professional, social, marital and family.  As human beings, we are multi-faceted, so do not limit yourself to just one area.  As to not overwhelm myself, I usually pick four areas I want to focus on in the coming year.  For example, I am committed to have more of a social life in the coming year.  In order to achieve that I have identified various activities to gain a better social life:  networking events at work, scheduling a girls night out at least once a quarter and even joining a traveling club!

The removal process is a renewal part of the process.  That is where I remove any fears, any doubts that I may have, reassure myself that I have done my best this year and commit to do even better this coming year!

I truly believe in this process.  As I pull out my last year reflections, I am blown away at the goals and accomplishments that I set for myself beginning of 2013 that have come true (i.e. blogging for an online magazine dedicated to women).  What I’ve learned is that when you confess your big goals and dreams to the universe, they somehow begin to take shape and become reality faster than you ever imagined.

My advice; Dream Big!