Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

End of Year Reflection; A How to Guide with Coaching Questions

Sunrise shining on a path in winter with dog in the middle

Rolo and a (near) Winter Solstice sunrise in Crystal Palace Park


Amidst the chaos of Christmas, there’s a yearning in me for introspection right now. I’m an extrovert and love a Christmas get-together, but I also need pockets of quiet and space to enjoy and appreciate the essence of this season.
Like nature’s cycle of hibernation, December provides the perfect opportunity to take a pause and reflect at the end of the year, on what’s really mattered to me, and what I choose to take forwards into the next.

The end of year reflection exercise I’ve created below is no annual work-appraisal! My intention is that you’ll glean meaningful insights about You this year. This is about remembering your strengths and skills, those brilliant character traits as an individual – a reminder of what you’re great at and what you love to do – all of which have contributed to your growth.

This is for you, whether you’re experiencing:

  • Feeling stuck or drained, as though 2023 cab just fade away (see My Invitation), or
  • At a crossroads – which way to turn, what to do? You can specifically read more HERE
  • Curiosity – energised by the potential gains and possibilities from self-reflection

I hope it serves as a gentle nudge to harness the positives within you to take forwards into 2024!



Think of;

  • Your small wins amongst the challenging experiences – a new skill, connection with new people, a healthy habit you’ve developed
  • What you have loved doing this year – however seemingly small or insignificant
  • And what has energised you, lifted you up
  • Be kind on yourself – and notice if you be kinder still

You ultimately choose what to take with you into 2024.


Benefits of an End of Year Reflection Exercise

  • Reflection – gives the brain an opportunity to pause and slow down. We carry so much information; social media, advertising, the mental load. This is an opportunity to untangle and sort through this year’s positive moments to be proud of, boost your confidence and cultivate a sense of gratitude
  • Perspective – and allowing it – provides another possible interpretation, a growth mindset approach, particularly when thinking of an event that’s felt challenging
  • Increased self-awareness and confidence – of the good stuff about YOU to be more of your authentic self
  • Increased sense of wellbeing – this can be a healthy, positive exercise on You


How to Reflect at the End of the Year:

  1.    Your environment – in a cafe? Out on a walk? Go somewhere inspiring where you won’t be distracted the your day to day stuff that could get in the way
  2.    Create quality time to do this – 30 mins minimum, better still an hour to think deeper
  3.    Your approach – on your own? With a friend over coffee? In chunks – ie part one and a revisit as a part two?

I prefer to do this specific exercise in a group. My friend Lyn Ray is also a Life Coach, based in Edinburgh, and I’ve joined her group especially for this exercise over the past 3 years! It always surprises me what comes out of my pen and what I learn about myself that boosts my confidence and pride. As a small business, I enjoy being with others for this kind of work – connection, support, banter and fun!

But otherwise I’d do this in a cafe with good coffee, cake and nice people. I often take a piece of work to one of my local cafes in Sydenham, London, put my air pods in, and take them out and talk to people on a break. And of course, I think super well out on a walk by myself – good for when I have a smaller question in mind.

Whatever you do, have an open attitude and a growth mindset – what can you learn here about yourself? You might surprise yourself!

Midlife woman in warm wintry clothing with sunrise
Appreciating the small wins of a Winter sunrise in Sydenham Wells Park

10 Life Coaching Questions

Consider using these coaching prompts to gently guide you on your end of year reflection:

  1.    What were the highlights of this year – big and small – that brought me a sense of achievement?
  2.    Briefly, what were the significant challenges or setbacks I faced? What positive traits have I learnt about myself?
  3.    What did I do for my physical and mental health in 2023? What difference has it made?
  4.    What tasks or activities have energised me in 2023?
  5.    What’s drained me in 2023?
  6.    What am I most proud of in 2023?
  7.    What am I grateful for this year?
  8.    From these reflections, what do I want to take into 2024?
  9.    From what I’ve written, how have I grown this year?
  10.    And what will I leave behind?


Moving forwards

Once you’ve reflected, move onto goal-setting – but if you’re a bit of a thinker like me, perhaps chunk it down and leave this for another time.

I wrote about values orientated goals HERE if you’re interested.


One final thought

Kindness. Above all, approach reflection and yourself with kindness to yourself, as you would a friend. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. Embrace your challenges as opportunities towards personal growth.
Reflection isn’t about dwelling on mistakes or shortcomings; it’s about learning and evolving.

You can prepare for a new year with possibilities and the promise of growth.

Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.