A Recipe for Reflection

This one pairs great with wine (what doesn’t?)

Photo credit Shahnaz Radjy

Recipe serves 1–2; can be adjusted for a family or tribe as needed.


  • List of favorite moments
  • List of difficult times
  • List of learning experiences
  • List of who you want to see more of
  • Handful of goals for 2018
  • 1 Cup of self-awareness
  • 1 Cup of reflection
  • 2 Cups of planning
  • Teaspoon of realism
  • Pen and paper
  • Wine, tea, or whatever your beverage of choice is
  • Family & friends as needed for support & feedback
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale


1. Start with Prep.

To get this Reflection just right, you can start preparing the ingredients as early as beginning of December if not before. Then again there is no right or wrong time to do this so early Jan works too. Lists are best written out and revisited a few times, whether on paper or on your phone (which is usually within reach so anything you think of randomly can be added to the list immediately). Feel free to also start on the 2018 goals.

If you have a journal, flipping back through the pages can jog your memory to feed into the process. Remember, you want a balance of flavors so that the end result is skewed neither towards the positive nor the negative but echoes your experience over the past 12 months.

Note that this preparation can be done ideally both individually as well as with a partner or family members whom you will ultimately be sharing the recipe with.

2. When ready to get in the kitchen and roll up your sleeves, review your lists. Favorite moments, difficult times, learning experiences, and who you want to see more of should be distilled into a review of 2017: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the inspiring.

Just like an electrocardiogram (EKG), having ups and downs isn’t just normal — it’s what it means to be alive.

As for who you want to see more of, there is a saying across cultures about your friends defining who you are as a person and sometimes even your future. The energy of those around you is important as it feeds into yours (and vice versa), so anyone with a particularly positive energy that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning or makes your heart sing is who should make that list.

3. Sketch out your goals for 2018. Personally, I recommend a mix of aiming for the stars — going outside your comfort zone and doing things you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s writing a book or running a marathon or learning a new language — and items that seem “smaller” relatively speaking. Spending less time in front of a screen, walking to work more often (doesn’t have to be “every day” or else as soon as you miss a day for what may be a very good reason, you risk feeling discouraged and giving up), eating more fruit.

Don’t write what you think you should write. Consider what you really want and channel that instead. Remember that sometimes, big life goals take a while to manifest — but having them explicitly spelled out and at the forefront of your mind is an important starting point. It will allow you to get things in motion to get at least a step closer, and every inch of progress is worth it.

4. When ready, bring all the ingredients together. Review the lists and goals while mixing in the seasonings: reflection, realism, and self-awareness. This is a good time to have a partner or friend taste and let you know if the overall flavor is balanced or off-kilter in any way. Adjust seasoning as needed.

5. Prepare your beverage of choice, and set yourself up somewhere comfortable (I picture curling up on a couch by the fire, but that’s just me) with a pen and paper.

6. Blend in the planning so your lists and goals start taking the shape of an exciting, inspiring, and manageable year. If you’re not a planner, bring in a friend or relative who is and have them talk things through with you. Talk to more than one planner if you want, and get feedback from other close friends who can call you out if you’re being unrealistic while cheering you on to get after those dreams of yours.

7. Celebrate 2017, for whatever it gave you is now a colored thread weaved into the tapestry of your experience. The ups are worth applauding, the downs commemorating.

8. You are officially ready to take on 2018!

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” — Nelson Mandela

Note to the Chef: the beauty of this recipe is that it can evolve with you throughout 2018. Lists can be tweaked, goals edited. The process can — and perhaps should — be an ongoing one for optimal results. Because even if we tend to follow the seasons and an annual cycle of growth and reflection, there is no reason not to also reflect and adapt each quarter, each month, each week.

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible!” — Audrey Hepburn

What are some of your goals for 2018?

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