Reflection and resolutions: Six powerful ways to close the year from Tim Ferriss, Zen Habits, Melissa Ambrosini and more

No more baggage: What are you ready to leave behind in 2018?

No more baggage: What are you ready to leave behind in 2018?

How was it for you? 2018, I mean?

Maybe it delivered more than you could have hoped for? Maybe it was full of surprises? Maybe you’re surprised that you’re still here to read this? Maybe you can’t wait to see the back of it?

Whether 2018 was a humdinger or a ‘what the hell just happened?!’ kinda ride, one thing is certain; it will have changed you in some way.

Probably in lots of ways, if you really think about it. You may still be in the same job, house, relationship, waist size, and/or financial situation, but, whether you stuck to any 2018 resolutions or not, you are a different person today than you were one year ago. Things change, we change. That’s the nature of life.

And there is much to learn from those magical 12 months when our hearts kept beating and our lungs kept breathing and the world kept turning and we - somehow - just kept going.

Which is why, inspired by Tim Ferriss and my husband (who has already done this for the last couple of years) I’ll be swapping resolutions for some REFLECTION this week. Taking the time to reflect on what has been (and not) before I decide what I want 2019 to look like for me.

Leo Babuata of the Zen Habits blog says: “I love this time of year. It’s a beautiful thing to reflect on your past year, how you grew and what you learned, and then say goodbye to the year. And then to think about what you might create with this year, the gorgeous freshness of it all just invigorating you.”

And so, before we race into a barrage of ‘new year, new me’ promises and dive into another self-help book. I wanted to share some of my favourite ways to close the year and get ready to embrace that gorgeous freshness of a new one….


  1. THE PAST YEAR REVIEW by Tim Ferriss

  • “Grab a notepad and create two columns: POSITIVE and NEGATIVE.

  • “Go through your calendar from the last year, looking at every week.

  • “For each week, jot down on the pad any people or activities or commitments that triggered peak positive or negative emotions for that month. Put them in their respective columns.

  • “Once you’ve gone through the past year, look at your notepad list and ask, “What 20% of each column produced the most reliable or powerful peaks?”

  • “Based on the answers, take your “positive” leaders and schedule more of them in the new year. Get them on the calendar now! Book things with friends and prepay for activities/events/commitments that you know work. It’s not real until it’s in the calendar. That’s step one. Step two is to take your “negative” leaders, put “NOT-TO-DO LIST” at the top, and put them somewhere you can see them each morning for the first few weeks of 2019. These are the people and things you *know* make you miserable, so don’t put them on your calendar out of obligation, guilt, FOMO, or other nonsense.”

  • MORE INFO on Tim’s blog



I bought all of my best friends the Goodbye Hello journal by Project Love (£14.99) for Christmas because I think it perfectly encapsulates the idea of reflection and resolutions working in harmony. This is also an EXCELLENT present for yourself and there is a digital version which you can access straight away. The founders are also running a ‘Design a Life You Love’ workshop online in January (£12) if you’re ready to delve deeper.


If you love journals you might like my feature for wellbeing site Life+Me featuring five of my favourites. Link HERE



After taking some time to reflect on the past year and its lessons, Babauta asks himself the following questions, which help him decide what he wants his year to look like and who he wants to be. He then distills the answers into 4-6 focuses for the coming year, like health, mindfulness, relationships (it’s worth reading the full post btw for inspiration as to the rituals and structures that he puts into place to make sure these focuses stay, um, his focus).

  • How do I want to grow? What do I want to learn? What skills and capacities would I like to develop?

  • What areas of my life need some refreshing? Health, mindfulness, relationships, work?

  • What do I want to put my focus on, if I could just choose 4-6 things to focus on?

  • If I were looking back on 2019 a year from now, what would be fantastic to see? What changes would I be psyched to have happened?

  • MORE INFO on Zen Habits



If 2018 has been a real shitter of a year, then it might be tough to see the ‘lessons’, or take any positives just yet. In which case, it can be really cathartic to share your feelings about what has happened by writing a letter to the year. “Dear 2018…. what the hell WAS that?! etc etc”.

The act of getting words out of your head (and heart) and onto paper is really freeing, and more important than what you actually do with the letter. (What DO you do with the letter, though? You can choose to burn it, if you really need to let something go. To share it with someone you trust if you’re ready to talk about it. Or maybe keep it until this time next year, when you may be able to look at the year that has just been in a different light).



Taking the art of visualisation one step further, life visioning, coined by the brilliant Dr Michael Bernard Beckwith, involves getting quiet and asking yourself/the Universe some empowering questions about your future. Like ‘what am I here to do/be?’ and ‘how can I best serve the world?’ or ‘what is my destiny?’ Then taking the time and space to listen. And then asking ‘who do I need to become to fulfil this destiny?’, and then working on that, every day. EG if you were an acorn asking these questions, you would eventually see that it’s your mission to become an oak tree and get busy sprouting roots. Not really a quick fix this one, but no-one said sprouting roots/figuring out our life’s purpose would be easy (and the podcast below breaks it down a bit more).

PODCAST: Dr Michael Bernard Beckwith and Melissa Ambrosini



Tim Ferriss talks a lot about the power of planning and urges us to get good stuff for 2019 in our diaries NOW. He says: “Get the positive things on the calendar ASAP, lest they get crowded out by the bullshit and noise that will otherwise fill your days.” And he’s right. There’s something very powerful about the act of planning. It’s actually the ultimate in #selfcare because you’re telling - and showing - yourself that you are worth this time. And there’s also something wonderful about the anticipation of an event that you know is good for you.

So, after working out what you loved and/or missed in 2018, get out your calendar and your bank card and start booking in some fun stuff. Don’t bankrupt yourself. But don’t fool yourself by saying ‘oh, it’s ages away, I’ll book that nearer the time’ either.

In fact, you can start now with the Shelf Help EVENTS page, which already has some excellent ways to start the new year - including a discounted Instant Pause day Retreat with Danielle Marchant, a sober curious supper club for those of you thinking about your relationship with booze, and - as ever - FREE meetups where we’ll be discussing January’s Book of the Month (usually announced on 1st of the month, but seeing as you’ve read this far I‘m happy to share the BOTM with you, which is Change Your Life in Seven Days by Paul McKenna - and contains a brilliant chapter on Dream Setting just perfect for this week).

42 Acres Shoreditch: Home to January’s Instant Pause event (and probably a quieter and calmer new you)

42 Acres Shoreditch: Home to January’s Instant Pause event (and probably a quieter and calmer new you)


I’ll be using a bit of all of the above to help me learn from my old self and start planning a new year filled with actions and goals that align with the ‘me’ I want to be. (And I’d love to know how you’re planning on reflecting on 2018 if you’d like to share in the comments below).

  1. Complete an End of Year Review c/o Tim Ferriss, and get planning/booking regular and one-off events for 2019 (60 minutes)

  2. Identify focuses and the rituals and daily strategies I’ll need to work on them c/o Zen Habits (couple of hours)

  3. Complete the Dream Setting chapter from January Book of the Month, Change Your Life in Seven Days, to remind myself of my values and the BIG dream (couple of hours)

  4. Get meditating on Life Visioning questions c/o Michael Bernard Beckwith, to inspire more on the BIG dream and my life/year’s purpose (10 minutes each morning of January)

  5. Get goal-setting in alignment with all of the above using my Best SELF journal as a way to keep me on track over the next couple of months (daily journaling)

TIP: Whichever of the above you decide to try, remember they don't need to be completedby 1st January. While I'd recommend doing your end of year review by 2nd January when we’re all back to work/school/real life, you don’t need to rush planning the best year of your life. In fact, I take most of January to really think about the coming year, carrying a notebook with me everywhere to scribble down ideas/dreams/goals as I go.