As the New Year comes upon me, each day seems to pass by quicker than the last. My last few weeks have been absolutely jam-packed with nonstop work, parties, outings, get-togethers, meals, and dates with friends, family, and loved ones. I have been running from one amazing fantastic thing to the next, trying to fit everything in, trying to soak in every last drop of 2019. I know I cannot possibly be the only one who ends up treating the holiday season like some kind of marathon sprint, racing from one event to the next and then collapsing over the finish line at the end of it all.

I arrive at Christmas Day happy but exhausted, and then… I switch gears. Because while I am not at all good about conserving time or energy before the holidays, the week between Christmas and New Years has, for me, become a cherished holiday in and of itself: The holiday of between holidays.

Each year, after Christmas and before New Years, I retreat. I leave my daughter with her grandparents, I clear my schedule of all to-dos, and I run away from the world. Some years it's a cabin in the mountains and some years it's a hut on a beach. No matter what the weather, I go somewhere, and I intentionally slow… way… down.

This time has become sacred for me. It's my time to reflect.

This tradition is somewhat new for me, and started when I was finishing COR's Leadership Development Training a few years ago. At the end of the training, the cohort creates and facilitates a one-day workshop called New Beginnings, and the entire thing is about reflecting on the year that is about to end and setting intentions for the year coming up. The year I facilitated, I participated in many of the exercises, and found that I was blown away by their impact.

Sure, I'd heard of reflection exercises and rituals before. I had followed many coaches who put out how-tos of what they did, I'd downloaded workbooks, I'd bought journals, and I'd planned to take the time to sit down and contemplate but somehow it just never happened. The year I did LDT though? That was the first time that I realized exactly how and why reflection can be so powerful in life. It became a thing that I started to prioritize.

Reflecting with a purpose is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your own growth. We are being taught lessons daily, but so many of us miss them in the busy hustle of daily life. When we take the time to look back, we also take the time to pause and let those lessons sink in. We learn, and in that way, move forward with a greater sense of awareness and tools.

What were your highest highs?
What were your lowest lows?
What were the themes that seemed to keep reappearing, and what lessons were they trying to instill?
Where did you grow?
What got in the way of your goals?
Who were the most important people in your life?
What do you want more of in the coming year?
What do you want less of?

These questions, and any others that might come up for you, hold the key to pulling out the gold of your year. For when we learn the lessons that are being offered up for us, we open new doors to what is possible going forward.

I encourage you to take some time after the holidays (whether that's several days or even just an hour) to reflect on your previous year. What did 2019 teach you? And what lessons from the year can you take into 2020 to expand your toolkit and expand possibilities?

Jen Underwood is a COR Coach and Community Outreach Liaison. You can learn more about her work at