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Hello my friends! I will not ask, even rhetorically, if you can believe it’s December because who can believe anything right now? I’m flabbergasted by almost everything. My flabber is gasted! My credulity is strained! 

And yet here we are.

Time to take stock, and review 2022.

As we have said here before, it’s important to be a witness to your own life. Some of the kids will tell you that’s what Instagram is for, but I find social media is a disappointing witness. It sometimes fails to adequately mirror, encourage and/or praise me, you know? Better to do the witnessing for ourselves, and post the highlight reel to social.

There are a million ways to do a year-end review. My main principle is to take no guidance from corporate culture. We can skip the “praise” sandwiches. 

You know and I know what we need: an emphasis on what went right. Let’s take one day out of the year to combat our built-in negativity bias, and record mostly praise, with a praise filling, and a side of praise. In other words, celebration!

Here are some ways to do this without going all the way to toxic positivity. Make lists of :

  • things you’re proud of, accomplishments
  • things you completed in 2022
  • things you launched in 2022
  • hard things that you did anyway, even if “it doesn’t seem like they should have been hard”
  • things that you changed for the better, even if only a little (because that’s how real change works!)
  • things that maybe you didn’t consciously change, but are nonetheless different now—even small things (really, there are no small things when it comes to accomplishments)
  • things that no one else knows about (yet) (but maybe you’ll want to share?)
  • new learnings / revelations you want to keep close to (because we can forget)
  • favorite moments with your people, favorite moments on vacation, favorite books, favorite meals …

No matter what kind of year it’s been, there is always a lot that’s true and real to feel good about.

In the MDK Shop
Where we keep our lists. The canvas onto which you can put all your dreams and plans.
By Leuchtturm1917

When you’ve done that, if and only if you’re feeling buoyed and want to, you might ride those good feelings over to the other side for a minute. In the end, I always find it easier to look the bad stuff in the eye, rather than trying to avoid its gaze. 

Important: I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT SHAMING YOURSELF. Again, this is not the praise sandwich! No self-blame. I can guarantee you there’s been more than enough of that.

Instead, let’s make a list of what sucked, what we don’t want more of, and what we might set about changing in 2023. This is the list you can use to orient yourself toward goals and wishes in the coming year.

You can see I have left a lot out. So include anything else you need for yourself. 

And then let it all marinate for a while. It’s good to have a contemplative gap between a review and a planning session. (Whoops! I guess a little corporate practice did creep in there.) Anyway, when you’re done, put it down and let it cook.

Feel free to share with appreciative other witnesses, of course! And we will talk about planning in January.

Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about what else goes in your year-end review. Pop your items in the comments below! And happy holidays, my friends.

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Image credit: The Carnival in Rome (fragment), C.W. Eckersberg, 1828. SMK/Open, public domain.

About The Author

Max Daniels is a research-based life coach whose weekly emails make us laugh with recognition and rethink everything we thought we knew. Her new book is Meals at Mealtimes. What a concept!


  • On New Year’s Eve one year i wrote on a paper all the things I wanted to do away with- angry thoughts, habits and put them in a pot and burned the paper. Starting the New Year fresh. It made me feel lighter.

    • Thank you Max. You certainly put things into perspective. And I’m in the same place – even my flabber is gasted. I’m going to try your suggestions. End this year on a positive note and start the next year fresh.

  • The other day-I found myself thinking about the new year and what I am going to do in January. I am newly retired-it has been a couple of months since I retired and this article resonated with me!
    Well, I am seeing this new year in a totally different light and want to make the most of my time-I began a list of projects I want work on, with yarn and with myself.
    Contemplating this new year has brought about a sense of calm and clarity-I am glad to continue to move forward-this article has clearly stated my own personal journey-thanks for your eloquence!!

    • I retired two years ago and I also found this article so helpful because I realized that this year has been all about moving from easing into retirement to just loving it. More time for myself and opportunities for creative growth. While I do some volunteer work, I also have become good with making time for myself!

  • So helpful, Max, as ever. A major new thing for me this year has been a return to keeping a journal. Every day, even if it’s one line or six pages, I write down the thought in my head at that moment. No editing, no Writing An Essay. It’s so different from what I write all day long these days. I haven’t really read it much, but I’m going to sit down with it and revisit the year. Looking forward to this, actually. Not sure what I’ll find in there. It was a rollercoaster year for sure.

  • yes, agree with all…. gotta work on that praise thing

  • Great commentary – food for thought… thank you!
    And BTW your choice of art for the title page is also worth a mention…

    • There’s an identifying credit at the bottom of the piece,

      • I love all the art Max always chooses, gorgeous curation, thank you!

  • Such a healthy exercise and outlook! Thank you. All of us with gasted flabbers so needed this positive way of examining this past year. Here’s to a happier and healthier 2023!!

  • Yes to all of the above and also this: Is your gob smacked??

    • My dinger is 100% hummed.

  • Thank you, Max! The last year has left me out-of-breath and exhausted from the fight against negativity. There is much that I’d like to shove under the rug and forget about, but I know it would come back to haunt me later. Taking the time to look it in the eye and identify what to keep and what to throw away will be well worth the time and effort!

  • Thanks for the reminder! This has been a heck of a year for my family, and we have big changes coming. My husband changed jobs, I quit mine, and we’re looking at moving, probably closer to my family. We’ve had to think about what we were struggling with here to help us decide what we want to embrace moving foward. And, of course, that requires lookng at what we do well as well and being realistic about the whole thing.

  • Thank you Max. Great perspective

  • Thank you Max! I’m finding these guidelines for self review very helpful and have saved this article.

  • Thank you Max! Your writing always inspires me! I used your suggestion last January to focus on one word for the year instead of resolutions. I am newly retired and wanted to spend time learning crafts, something I never took the time to do during my career, so my word for the year became CREATE. Despite unexpected health setbacks, I kept that word in mind all year long as I took pottery lessons, learned new knitting and weaving techniques and even tried my hand at quilting. Your brilliant idea was such a gift for me!

  • I had started Journaling my projects, however this year I was not consistent, so I’m hoping between paper notes, Knit Companion and Ravelry 2022’s review will be complete. The year started with buying no new yarn and knitting down my stash. (I did buy some new but they were knitted up quickly.) So in the new year all old yarn will be gone except for the two skeins I’m using on projects that hopefully will be completed soon.
    It’s nice to reflect on the past, adjust our actions and thoughts, so we can plan for the future.

  • A long list of the people who are a light in my life and in my community.

  • This year has been the worst of times. However it has ended with miracles and angels all around me. I’m a low income disabled senior. This year my mama who I took care of passed. Three weeks later I fell and broke my right wrist badly. Not being able to knit was the least of my problems. Bad things kept happening. I knew if I couldn’t get into a bldg for seniors like me I would be homeless by Dec 1st. Miracles did occur. I had so much help. Angels came out of the woodwork. I am in a beautiful little apartment in my neighborhood for seniors like me. I have a wonderful view, my emotional support cat & yarn. I’m going to do this exercise and am so looking forward now. One of my goals is to afford some felted tweed; my favorite. After all how many blankets does one need? Just one fabulous one! I’m starting a journal too. Thanks so much for this column. It is inspiring.

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