Too often we get caught up in going through the motions only to later realize that we’re dissatisfied or unfulfilled in one or more parts of our lives. The beginning of a new month can be a good benchmark to use to touch base, reflect and identify what parts of our lives are or aren’t working. It can keep us conscious of our behavior and assured that we are working toward a life that’s aligned with our goals and values.
A monthly self-reflection practice can help us us to:
- stay connected to ourselves
- acknowledge & appreciate what’s going well in our lives
- give ourselves credit for our accomplishments
- be honest with ourselves about ways we may not be acting in alignment with our goals
- address areas of our life that are unsatisfactory
- be more intentional and self-aware
While it might sound daunting, a monthly self-reflection ritual doesn’t need to be an elaborate event or dreadful task. It can be 20-30 minutes at the kitchen counter with a cup of coffee or tea. It can even be a shared experience with a loved one. And while you can answer these questions in your head or say them out loud, writing your answers down will:
- help you track your progress
- help you identify patterns
- hold you more accountable
While you can certainly create your own based on what applies or resonates with you, here are 9 examples of monthly self-reflection prompts you can use.
What went well this month?
We tend to overlook and/or discount the good in our lives, so this is an important one. Acknowledge anything that went well – however big or small. Did you show up in ways that were aligned with how you wanted to? Are you feeling good about certain areas of your life? Did you take a step toward a goal? Did you accomplish something you’ve been working toward? Give yourself credit where credit is due.
What were my biggest challenges this month and how did I overcome them?
While we don’t want to dwell on them or beat ourselves up, it’s important to acknowledge our challenges so that we can course-correct for the month ahead. Identify anything that was difficult this month or that didn’t go exactly as you had planned or hoped. Once you’ve made note of your challenges, identify the coping skills, supports and resources you used to overcome them. This will come in handy when anticipating and/or managing future obstacles.
What did I learn this month?
More important than focusing on what went right or wrong for you, try and identify what you learned. What new information did you gain this month – about yourself or your life – that you can apply to the month ahead? It could be a tangible skill, a surprising insight or a general life lesson. Pin-pointing our learnings helps us remember that even when things are difficult, there is still useful information to be gained.
What distractions, excuses or limitations prevented me from meeting certain goals?
When identifying your challenges and/or areas of life that didn’t go as planned, what obstacles got in the way? This can be unexpected life stuff – like a death or a breakup – or general avoidance, poor planning, laziness, anxiety or depression. Getting to the root cause of why we might not have fully aligned our actions with our goals or values can help us address the underlying issue and shift gears accordingly.
What were all of my happy moments from this month?
We tend to overlook the good stuff due to negativity bias, so write it all down! Take yourself back to each feel-good moment of the previous month so that you can 1) identify that good did happen, 2) visualize and re-live it, 3) keep it in mind when it feels like nothing’s going right and 4) try to re-create it.
What would I rate my motivation, energy, mood and mindset this month on a scale of 1-10?
Putting a number to our motivation, energy, mood and mindset helps to give us a more accurate reflection of how we’re doing. It also helps us to compare it over time to previous and future months. While it’s a subjective rating, it helps us remain connected to ourselves so that we are fully aware of and attuned to both our highs and lows.
What is my most important area of focus or intention for the upcoming month?
While we all strive to have a balanced life where we pour into each bucket equally, that isn’t always realistic. Which one area of life is most important for you to focus on over the month ahead? Maybe it’s an area that you’ve been neglecting. Or perhaps it’s an area of life that you have a particular goal or timeline for. Whatever the reason, setting an intention will help you to align your future action with it.
What do I need to change or do different this upcoming month?
Based on what you’ve learned during this self-reflection, what needs to change this month? The key here is not to beat yourself up for what hasn’t been going well but to use that information to propel you forward. What tweaks do you need to make to set yourself up for success?
What are all the things I’m looking forward to this upcoming month?
Make note of every single thing you have to look forward to over the month ahead – from big events to small moments. Visualizing and having things to look forward to has many benefits for our mental well-being. Whether it’s a vacation, warmer weather or cooking a new meal – get specific and thorough!
Not only is this ritual an act of self-love, but it ascertains that you’re living your life in alignment with your goals and values and that you’re practicing self-compassion and course-correcting when you aren’t. Once you write your answers, use your self check-in as a guide for the month ahead. Read it once a week to help you maintain connection to yourself and your intentions.