A Grateful Year in Review

A Grateful Year-in-Review

In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, we’re going to do a practical gratitude exercise. This is Thanksgiving week. (YAY!) Think about where you were last year at this time: how old were your kids? who was with you Thanksgiving week? where were you? what were you working on? what things were you wishing you were doing better?

Do not focus on the negative. Life happens. Maybe this year had a lot of bad things happen. Now is not the time to talk about those.

Focus on the growth. Pick (at least) 2 things that are better this year than last year.

My Grateful Year-in-Review:

Though I could pick a whole bunch of things, I’ll stick with just a couple of things:

  • Last year, I was pining about how I was failing at two main goals: exercising consistently and learning Cambodian. This year, I’ve actually made headway on these two things! First, I got a buddy for exercising and signed myself up for a couple of classes (Piyo and Water Aerobics if you really want to know). Then, I found a Cambodian teacher and started lessons via Skype. Having classes (especially ones I pay for!) holds me accountable do doing something. I’m feeling stronger physically and am actually making progress on learning Cambodian!
  • Last year, we were actively updating our house for the Alaska Energy Rebate Program. Our evenings were spent crawling around the crawlspace, calculating material costs, and updating everything in our home as quickly as possible before the program deadline. This year, I can say that we’ve enjoyably wasted some time in the evenings and have only done two minor house projects this entire year! (Mr. T updated the cracked counter top in the kids’ bathroom & added a belt drive to our garage door so the noise wouldn’t shake the house every time the door opened.)
  • Last year, we were actively preparing creations for a Christmas bazaar. We were forcing it to work and we really didn’t enjoy the process at all. It turns out, we hated selling at the bazaar as well. We took a step back from the whole project. This past weekend, we revived our Etsy shop, but we’re not actively marketing it or selling at any events. We don’t want creativity to turn into the miserable experience it did last year.

Step Backs and Move Forwards

Again, we’re not focusing on the negative here, but you’ll realize that my three examples showed that we’ve consciously stepped back in some areas (house updates and art selling) and taken steps forward in other directions (learning Cambodian and consistently exercising).

During this review, be sure to consider step-backs as potential opportunities for gratitude. I am grateful art creation has returned to bringing us joy because we’ve stepped back from actively trying to make it a side hustle. I am grateful I get to spend my evenings relaxing instead of learning the inner-workings of insulation and which spider carcasses are hiding in my crawlspace.

How to Perform Your Own Grateful Year-in-Review:

  1. Make a list of things you were doing, thinking about, and worrying about a year ago. Look on your calendar from a year ago, browse your old blog posts, read your journal entries. It’s fun looking back.
  2. Cross off everything that is the same… but be careful here. Most things are bound to have changed. Mr. T has a calendar reminder to take the recycling out on Wednesday nights. That hasn’t changed. I still blog consistently, but a lot has changed in a year on the blog (new friends! new inspiration! lessons I’ve learned!). So, I crossed off “take out the recycling” but not “blogging.”
  3. For the ones remaining on the list, write how they’ve changed (as I did in bullet #2 for blogging). Again, focus on the good.

This grateful year-in-review will also help set you up to make goals for the next year because you’ll have a better sense of what you like about life now vs. last year and what things you would change for next year. But remember, this week, focus on the gratitude!

What is on your list, friends?


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  1. ChooseBetterLife

    So glad to have a family member home with us this year after several years away. I’ve also decided to quit one job at the end of the year to focus more on my blog and my other job. Like you said, it’s important to make room in your life for new projects and adventures. Don’t just declutter your stuff, declutter your calendar too!

  2. Emily Jividen

    I just looked through my last year’s gratitude post. My list this year is pretty similar, with the added bonuses of a more independent child, a tangibly growing blog, and less stress.

  3. I really focused on self care and being happier with my wardrobe this year. I was doing a horrible job at exercising last year. This year, I made much more of an effort and have actually started to stick with something and slowly see results – my weight is down 9.1% from my peak maximum back in mid-June. I’ve also been drinking far far more water than I was and have made some changes to my diet and I feel so much better from that too. I decided this year that even if I wasn’t going to find a workout buddy, I still needed to work out and stop making excuses!

    • MaggieBanks

      Well done Leigh! Those all sound like awesome changes! (my weight hasnt changed a bit, but I feel a bit less like a weak waif and a bit more like I have the capability of catching myself when I fall!) 🙂

  4. I love year-in-review posts. I used to do one around New Year’s and review the good and the bad, and what I learned.

    We met a major financial goal this year, one we are so excited to have behind us. I’m grateful we were able to do that. And my kids keep me always growing and learning about what it means to love.

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s fun when kids grow into a really good stage. I feel like Lui has reached peak cuteness right now. And congrats on your big financial goal!

  5. I am thankful that I started my blog this year because without it I can’t tell you where I was last year…for real (probably working?). I have no kids to track by age, had no projects to track by completion, and no financial goals to meet. This year just flew by and the only thing I can show for it is an increase in my savings accounts from last year this time (the only tracking I can actually see!)… smh …

    That being said, in the past 5 months since I started writing again, I am so grateful to have new friends to talk to and this new community I am a part of. This year my BF also moved and that has allowed us to spend more time together and with his kids. So, though I don’t remember where I was last Thanksgiving, next year I will absolutely know where I was in 2016. This year I am super thankful to have this outlet that I had been missing so I can record these times before they slip away like last year did. Happy Thanksgiving!! 🙂

  6. I love this, Maggie! Sounds like you have a lot to be proud of and grateful for. Congrats on the accomplishments with health and language! Woohoo! I am always overwhelmed by how many things I have to be grateful for. I hope the flesh out part of that in Wednesday’s post. Right now, I’m thankful for my students and their energy. It keeps me going during these crazy weeks leading up to the holidays!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Penny! Like I said, I could have made a much longer list! I’m glad your kids’ energy gets you through these next few weeks of school… from a parent’s end, I say: “bless you, they all nuts this time of year!”

  7. I just re-read a Monday Medley post from last year (so glad I write those with just a summary of what’s going on with us). A lot is the same, but there are plenty of differences too. Little Trey was just starting to eat baby food – now he’s running and talking. Goofball was still negotiating the rigors of starting to attend elementary school – he’s become so much more responsible. Tornado was being helpful around the house – she is trying to be very independent these days.
    Mr. Smith and I were working hard, and he was collecting firewood – no big changes there.

    But your question was more about progress. We’ve certainly improved our finances – almost down to one last credit card. The blog continues to grow. I started earning money for freelance writing. Goofball has become an excellent reader.

    I feel a bit disappointed with how quickly time has passed with us being so busy. But, in being positive, I can say that we had many fun family experiences over the past year, including our awesome trip up to Maine.

    • MaggieBanks

      Yay! Look at all those awesome changes! No need to get disappointed or discouraged… you’ve made progress, you’ve made memories, and you’re heading in the direction you want to be heading! Congrats to you!

  8. Great idea! Let’s see-my littlest guy was only seven months old this time last year, and now he’s a walking/running toddler. My middle son was in a magnet school and now he’s back in our local school. My oldest is a teenager now (eek!) and he’s become much more comfortable with himself and made many new friends. This time last year my husband was still recovering from a major surgery he had a few months before, and now he’s back to his old self. And for me I’m just starting a huge new project at work, and I started this blog a few months ago. So lots of changes here! Whoever said “the days are long but the years are short” was right!

    • MaggieBanks

      Those all sound like amazing changes and I totally agree. The days can be very long, but I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas already!

  9. TJ

    Last year feels pretty foggy! I think that’s one reason I like that I’ve started a blog. At this time next year, I can look back and see what the heck I was doing. The best (worst?) part is I don’t even know where I’ll be this time of year next year. Fun facts: Thanksgiving 2012 I was in Australia and Thanksgiving 2014 I was in Europe.

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