The New Year brings reflection and forward thinking, and having a January 14th birthday really doubles that. It's a special two weeks for me. In the months before it approaches, I use it to push to get some "stuck stuff" done. Then, once I'm actually in the two-week window, I use it again to start (or re-start) things I want to do in the year ahead. Looking back, then looking forward.
Here's a great little tool for looking back for self-reflection and perspective. It's just a grid on a large-ish sheet of paper, where each row is a decade and each square is one year. Using small words and doodles, you capture the major touchpoints in your life. Not for publication, just for learning about yourself.
The initial spark was a page I cut from a design magazine in 2003 featuring a designer's "biography matrix". I was instantly drawn to the idea of a visual summary of your life, all on one page. If you've browsed any of my site, you'll see a theme - I love designing things that fit on one page.
I tried it on a long flight about a year ago, and I was amazed how immediately interesting it was to do. This little activity revealed so many odd little things that turned out to be key memories for me. There were all these nexus points that affected everything after them. It was fascinating.
Over the past year I've given sheets to a few family and friends to try, and they had similar positive experiences. If you are looking to learn more about yourself, I recommend you give this a try!