The new year tends to conjure ideas of our greatest selves; six-pack abs, big promotions, and other general glow-up type things. Setting goals to improve yourself is a wonderful way to guide yourself. But while it’s still 2019, take time to reflect on the year gone by.

Reflection is Key

If you are going to set achievable, helpful goals, reflection is key. It is great to look back and see what you have already accomplished and congratulated yourself on it. Did you kick some bad habits? Forge ahead on your side hustle? Get around to more visits with the people you love most? All worth a celebratory toast at midnight. More than that, though, it’s a great way of reinforcing the fact that you can set and keep goals in the new year.

Reflection also gives us a chance to stop and be grateful for all the things and opportunities we have received in the past year. Gratitude gives us perspective on the abundance that is in our lives and reminds us of the joy this life has brought us. It reminds us that we have it good already, and any additional achievements would just be a bonus.

Give Yourself Credit

Another reason to look back is to consider what has worked in the past to move you toward your best self. Was it a deadline that got you moving? Was it adding an accountability partner? Or maybe it was the financial component of coughing up those extra bucks for a personal trainer. Take a closer look at what happened to make those goals you followed through on special and try to replicate some of those aspects if you can.

Something else to consider is a goal you have made year after year to no avail. Is there still something nagging at you that you are almost sick of telling people you are going to change? If so, take a look at the avenues you have already tried and did not seem to work and be honest. Did you give up on something before it had a chance to work, or was it 110% effort with no results? But also, give yourself credit for the ways have you already made some incremental changes in this part of your life. You probably have made more progress than you are acknowledging.

Have a Cringe Session

Reflection is also a great time to decide to let go of things in your life that are already passed, and you have already changed, but seem to still make you cringe when they pop into your consciousness. Make a point to have a final cringe session, write it out and burn it, do a sage-smudging ceremony, or go to group meditation and cry it out-whatever works for you. But make peace with the fact as an imperfect human being you will mess up, even as your best self. Forgiving yourself allows space for growth. You cannot change your past, but you can thank it for teaching you to love yourself.