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An appreciative year in review

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Before writing this article on an appreciative year in review, I went through the exercises I’m going to describe and came to a realization.

Truly reflecting is a very difficult exercise and not one you can just suggest to anyone to do. It takes effort and concentration. So why do it?

The purpose is to make sure we’re not misspending our money or more importantly, our lives, pursuing things or opportunities that aren’t meaningful to us. As the past year fades from memory, why not spend a few minutes considering the highlights, both good and bad, of 2014?

You may even want to consider writing down the highlights for future reference. It can be an enjoyable experience to look back at previous years’ highlights to relive some of the memorable occasions. I also encourage going through the exercise with someone else as shared experiences can lead to some of the best memories.

After reflecting on the past year, it’s time to look at the upcoming year. What do you see on the horizon that has you excited about 2015? This would also be worthwhile to have in writing so you can tuck it away for next year’s reflection. Seeing what actually happened as well as what surprises occurred that you hadn’t even considered at the start of the year can be insightful as you repeat the exercises in future years.

Life is made of those planned transitions and unforeseen events so why not embrace an approach celebrating what makes your life unique? One of my favorite authors and speakers on the topic of living an appreciative life is Edward Jacobson, who wrote “Appreciative Moments,” which is full of useful exercises for living a more fulfilling life.

Ed was gracious enough to prepare a workbook for readers of this column using the metaphor of driving a car. Gazing through the rear-view mirror consists of reflecting on 2014 while peering out the windshield is looking ahead to 2015. If you’re interested in receiving a copy of Ed’s workbook, please visit and enter the code—MIRROR.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the column, I suspect most people won’t take the time to complete these exercises but I’d be willing to wager those who do will live a more rewarding life. It’s time to live your great life now!

Justus Morgan is a fee-only financial planner with Financial Service Group Inc., a registered investment advisory firm at 4812 Northwestern Ave., online at


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