Reflections on 2021 and Moving Forward in 2022

The new year always serves as an excellent time to reflect on the year that’s passed, as well as to think carefully about how you’re going to approach the year that’s about to come. 

2021 was a difficult year for all of us, especially for doctors and those working on the front lines. There were huge amounts of stress, tension, and probably even burnout. You’re likely hoping for big changes in the coming year. 

While these big changes can happen at any time of the year, planning and implementing them can sometimes happen easier when there’s some sort of milestone, turning point, or transitionary period; this is why the new year period is such an iconic time for all of us. 

To make 2022 meaningful and make the changes that you’d like to, it’s important to look back on 2021 and take stock of all that’s happened, what you’ve learned, what you’d like to keep, improve, and change. 

Reflect on 2021 

Reflecting on the past year is more than just giving it a brief think, revisiting its highlights, and cringing at its worst parts. Think about it like you’re giving yourself feedback and learning how you can improve so that next year will be even better. 

Before I let you know what to reflect on from the past year, you need to know-howWhen reflecting on your past year, I invite you to be:

  • Honesty – with yourself as well as with others. If something hurt you, be honest enough to say it did. If someone was horrible to you, don’t make excuses for their actions. 
  • Kindness – at the same time as you are honest, there is no need to berate yourself or be harsh.
  • Neutrality – whatever you are thinking about has already happened, and there is nothing that you can do to change it, so try your best not to victimize or villainize any part of it. 

With that in mind, here are some ways that you can reflect on the past year. If you’d like, you can grab a pen and some paper, use your phone or laptop, or just do your reflections in your mind.

Sections of your life

You can make this exercise easier by segmenting your life. Some common segments are health, family, career, education, love life, children, mental health/self-care, self-development/personal growth, wealth, and spirituality. Can you think of any others?

Of course, these categories won’t apply to everyone. Your life sections’ might be wildly different. You might add entirely different categories, have fewer or more categories, or be more specific with your categories. 

The Highs and the Lows

One of the easiest ways to reflect on the past year is by thinking about some ‘lightbulb’ moments. These are moments that light up like a lightbulb in your memory. What comes to mind when you think of 2021’s best moments? What about the worst? For example, I’ve noticed that many doctors and nurses felt that 2021 burnt them out and made them feel like they’d lost their passion for healthcare. It’s understandable, given what a difficult time the year was. If this was something that you’ve struggled with too, then you might find what I’ve written about bringing back the passion for healthcare helpful. 

As for highs, I think most of us have found a hobby that we enjoy. This could be a brand-new hobby, like taking up knitting, or a reignited passion, like painting or reading. Or maybe, one of your highs is seeing a loved one that you hadn’t seen for all of 2020 and part of 2019. 

Take note of all of these moments, as well as the reasons that you’ve considered them the best and worst.


Now I invite you to think about your achievements. What did you set out to achieve in 2021? What did you achieve and what did you not? If you didn’t set out to achieve anything, are there things that you achieved and are proud of anyway? 

Now examine these things. Take note of the steps and actions that you took to make these achievements. For what you didn’t manage to achieve, why do think you were unable to do so? Try and list the factors (both internal and external) that hindered your success. 

For what you couldn’t achieve, think about whether or not you will bring these goals with you into 2022. Do you still want to achieve these same things? Maybe you no longer need that goal, or maybe it can wait for another year. 

What would you do better, given the chance? Is there another way that you could have gone through 2021?

List what lessons you’ve learned, whether in your practice or just your everyday life, mistakes you feel you’ve made, good behaviors you displayed, and so on. 


Gratitude is so often overlooked, not only when reflecting on the past year but in everyday life as well. It’s so easy to think about what you’d like to change about your life that you rarely think about what you love about your life. 

For example, as a doctor, do you find yourself glossing over your patients’ individuality? I’ve found that it is profoundly meaningful to take the time to think about every one of your patients’ perspectives. I’ve talked about that in more detail here, but it’s just one great example of being grateful for something that is an ordinary aspect of our lives as doctors but is a very special thing. We get to see so many individuals and are tasked with taking care of them in ways that only we can. 

What else are you grateful for in your life? 


And finally, I invite you to write or think freely about your thoughts on the last year. Whatever comes to mind, let it flow. You can unearth much of your psyche this way, and find yourself revisiting a lot of things you didn’t even know that you remembered. Just let your mind wander – and I find that writing or typing these thoughts down helps – and see where it takes you from there.  

There is no better time to reflect than the present. I’m here to provide you with the support that you need. If you’d like to start on your journey of growth and enlightenment, get in touch with me here