Creating a Positively Memorable 2021 Through Self-Reflection

This Week on Sage Aging

Happy New Year! I love the feel of a fresh new year, don’t you? I love the process of getting all my ducks in a row and a good deep clean and purge of my office and getting myself organized. And I love dreaming about the possibilities a new beginning brings. I think it’s safe to say that most of us were quite happy to bid 2020 farewell. I know I was. Personally, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks decompressing from our crazy year and a very busy production season for Polk ElderCare Guide. Mindset is everything and the mindset we CHOOSE dictates the experiences that we have every day. In this episode, we talked about self-reflection and how to use it to find your best self all year long. Listen to episode 37 to walk through the process or keep scrolling for the full transcript.


By definition, self-reflection is meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives. In other words, it is a deliberate effort to pay attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. As a caregiver or professional who serves older adults, the New Year offers us an incredible opportunity to create a shift in mindset, not only for ourselves but also for those we care for because we are setting the tone. When we are negative, run-down, or focusing on all that is going wrong, it is almost a 100% certainty that those around us will follow suit.

So what does the process of self-reflection look like? In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is simply touching base with yourself on a regular basis to celebrate a life well lived and identify and work on areas where you are falling short. It’s not about trying to be perfect. I believe we are all perfectly imperfect and our flaws and missteps offer opportunities for growth. If you want to see the process of self-reflection I use. Click the button below to download your free worksheet. I challenge you to take a little time to do your own reflection. It will empower you to make 2021 a positively memorable year!

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**The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide.  A comprehensive senior resource guide empowering you to navigate the aging and caregiving journey successfully.

Closed Captioning

Creating a Positively Memorable 2021 Through Self-Reflection

Recorded 1/3/21

Liz Craven  00:00

The Sage Aging podcast is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide. Your guide to all things senior care and resources. Find the 2021 guide in English and Spanish at Polk


Liz Craven  00:18

Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. Sage Aging will connect you to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you education, inspiration, amazing industry guests and caregiver spotlights to shed some light on topics of aging. There’ll even be some freebies and giveaways too. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now and let’s get started.


Liz Craven  00:54

In this episode, we’ll talk about how you can make 2021 a positively memorable year. Do you want to know how? Well there’s no time like the present? Let’s jump in.


Liz Craven  01:07

Happy New Year and welcome to Episode 37 of the Sage Aging podcast. I do love the feel of a brand new year, don’t you? I love the process of getting all my ducks in a row and a good deep clean and purge of my office and getting myself organized. And I love dreaming about the possibilities a new beginning brings. Speaking of getting organized. I am so excited about the great content we have planned for you this year. A lot of thought and effort has gone into choosing a great variety of topics to cover. We’ve got education, inspiration, amazing industry, guests, caregiver spotlights, and even some freebies and giveaways to it’s going to be a great year and I am so excited. Anyway, if you’re subscribed to my weekly newsletter, you may have noticed that there’s a quote at the bottom of each page each week. those thoughts are intended to encourage and inspire you as you approach the week ahead. This year, I thought it would be nice to open each episode of the podcast with a quote as well. I think mindset is everything. And I hope that these nuggets of positivity do as much for you as they do for me. This week’s quote comes from Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s the author of Eat, Pray Love, one of my very favorite books, by the way, and the movie is really great too. So if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, I would definitely put it on your to do list. It’s a great way to kick off the new year that the quote goes like this. You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Well, if that isn’t a great reminder coming off of such a hellacious here, I don’t know what it is. I think it’s safe to say that most of us were quite happy to bid 2020 farewell. I know I was. Personally I’ve spent the last couple of weeks decompressing from our crazy year and a very busy production season for Polk ElderCare Guide and by the way, the 2021 issue is now available and you can find the digital versions in both English and Spanish at And just in case you don’t know what Elder Care Guide is, the Polk ElderCare Guide is a comprehensive senior resource guide created 27 years ago to help older adults and their families navigate the aging and caregiving journey. It’s packed with great information about all things aging, and it’s a great tool to take advantage of if you’re a caregiver, or as you prepare for your own post retirement years. If you haven’t taken a close look at ElderCare Guide, head over to it’s wise to know it before you need it. So it’s a great place to start. And stay tuned because is getting a complete makeover as we speak and I can’t wait to share that with you in the coming months. Okay, with that shameless plug out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand. The quote I shared with you a minute ago is a great illustration of how our mindset, positive or negative is something that we choose. And what we choose dictates the experiences that we have every day. 2020 was a really tough year for everyone, but older adults and those who care for them faced far more than their fair share of obstacles and challenges. How is it that some people seemingly sailed through the challenges while others really struggled Obviously, personal circumstances were different for each individual. But could it be that some people simply chose to react in a more positive manner? I think in some instances, that’s the case. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not at all minimizing the difficult challenges that 2020 brought, or suggesting that a positive mindset is a cure all. But I do believe that it makes a difference. Well, now that 2020, and a lot of the junk that came with it is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn our attention to the new year, and focus on what we can do to make it a positively memorable year. New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. I kind of feel like they tend to be fleeting and fade into the background pretty quickly for most people, myself included when I used to subscribe to them.


Liz Craven  05:57

I am However, a really big fan of annual self reflection, and choosing something to focus on to better myself throughout the year. I guess it’s similar to a resolution, but I really think it’s more than that. acting on self reflection is much more than a promise to lose a few pounds or achieve a specific work goal or something like that. It’s an all encompassing shift that allows me to become better in every area of my life. It’s getting very real and honest with myself about how I can do and be better. And it’s holding myself accountable in the areas that I’m falling short, and celebrating myself for the things I’m doing well to. Ultimately, it’s continuing the self reflection in my daily life all year long, that makes the difference. By definition, and if you listen to the show, you know that I like definitions. But by definition, self reflection is meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions and motives. In other words, it’s a deliberate effort to pay attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions and behaviors. So as a caregiver, or a professional who serves older adults, the New Year offers us an incredible opportunity to create a shift in mindset, not only for ourselves, but for those we care for, because we’re setting the tone right? When we’re negative run down, focusing on all of the things that are going wrong, it is almost a 100% certainty that those around us are going to follow suit. Now, don’t get mad at me, I know that the day to day grind can be overwhelming. And I know that some days it feels impossible to do anything more than just survive. I’ve been there. But nobody’s expecting you to be perfect every day. And I don’t have visions of unicorns and rainbows for every moment of the day either. I do also know though, that regular self reflection will deliver a more positive life experience overall. And it has proven to be very effective for me over the years and many others that I know as well. As I reflected on the last year over the holidays, I took inventory of my year and actually I was pleasantly surprised at all the positive there was yes, there was plenty of yuck to go around and I had my fair share of days that are better left in the past. But in the midst of all the gunk 2020 brought some pretty terrific things my way. I started a podcast for one that was very exciting. I’ve met people from all over the world as we took two virtual spaces to connect. I flooded my brain with lots of new and exciting things I didn’t know before, and found new ways to connect with my community clients, caregivers, I believe mindset had a lot to do with that it would have been really easy to blame COVID for a lack of progress in every area of my life and just let it be.


Liz Craven  09:10

At the end of 2019 my neighbor, her name is Christina, she and I had a discussion about resolutions and neither one of us is really inspired by them. But we are both inspired by the power our own mindset has. And though I had never done this in the past, after that conversation, I chose a word to guide myself reflection and 2020 the word was unlimited. And I love this word because it puts all the power in my own hands. While I can’t always have control over what happens around me. I can absolutely control my response to it and that gives me the power to be unlimited. Christina gave me a bracelet with the word unlimited stamped on it and it was a great daily reminder all year long to keep myself in Check. I’m certain that she has absolutely no idea what a positive impact that small gesture had on me. But I’m definitely going to tell her because it really was a difference maker for my 2020. The point and sharing all of this with you is to tell you that you have the same power in your life. As a family, caregiver or professional serving the aging population, you’re confronted daily with things that you can’t control, whether it’s bureaucracy, an uncooperative care recipient, we’ve all had that happen, right? A judgmental family member who seems to find fault in everything that you do, or the feeling that the walls are closing in on you as we continue to quarantine. These are hurdles that we have to face every single day. The good news is that those things don’t have to dictate your days completely. Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding them altogether. But if you choose to make them so they can become the secondary things in your life.


Liz Craven  11:04

Is any of this making sense? I hope so. And if you’re someone who has never practiced self reflection before, I hope that this inspires you to try it. Now, I’m not a professional in this arena, and I have no training whatsoever. This is just me sharing an important piece of myself with you. So what does the process of self reflection look like? In my opinion, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s simply touching base with yourself to celebrate a life well lived and identify and work on areas where you’re falling short. As I said before, I’m not a certified coach or practitioner of any kind. But here’s what my self reflection looks like. If you’re like me and find a premade template helpful, I’ve got you covered. Simply head to Sage aging, calm and open the blog post for Episode 37, you’ll find a link in the blog post for a free easy to use template that I’ll send right to your inbox. I hope that it’s helpful for you. I know for me when I’m doing something like this being organized and having everything all there in front of me is very helpful. So go to the blog post for Episode 37 and you’ll find that, for me, self reflection is an annual practice. And during my self reflection, I identify things that I’d like to improve about myself in the coming year. Now I don’t strive for perfection, because I believe that we’re all perfectly imperfect, and that our flaws and our missteps offer us opportunities for growth. But you want to start by making some time for yourself some quiet time, free of interruption. Make sure that all of those who you are caring for whether that be an aging loved one or your children or both, make sure that they are occupied and find yourself just a little bit of time that you can focus on you to do this, because you’ll want to thoughtfully reflect on each area of your life. If this is new to you, this may feel a little bit overwhelming, but do it anyway. Because after you work through it, you’ll be able to choose where to focus your efforts for the year. And that’ll likely just be an area or two and that won’t be so overwhelming. And improvement, any area of your life will likely affect all areas of your life anyway. So you can define your own categories, but I like to reflect on the mind, body, soul, work, play and love. And as you reflect on each area, think of it in terms of how the last year has been cumulatively jot down your answers and feelings about each question and be very honest with yourself. As I said before, take your time with this because rushing through it will absolutely defeat the purpose.


Liz Craven  13:56

So let’s talk about each of these categories. There are just a few general questions that you’re going to want to consider in each of the categories I mentioned above. So let’s talk first about mind. In general, do you feel clear headed and engaged? Have you seized opportunities to expand your knowledge and learn new things in the last year? Are you generally open to exploring new ways of doing things and new thought patterns? Next, we’ll talk about body are you taking good care of yourself? This one’s a biggie isn’t it? Are you getting enough rest? Do you engage in regular exercise and nourish your body with good food and hydration? Did you get an annual physical dental checkup and visual checkup last year? Next we’ll talk about soul. Are you taking the time to fill your spiritual needs? are you connected to the world and the people around you? Do you feel peaceful at the end of Generally speaking, we all know there’ll be challenging days, but in general, do you feel at peace? The next category that you’ll want to consider is work. Whether you’re unpaid and work at home, caring for a loved one and family, or you’re employed outside of the home? Is your work engaging and interesting? Are you fulfilled by what you do? The next area is play. Are you making time to do things that bring you joy? Do you take time away from all of the responsibility? Even if it’s just a few minutes to do fun things? Or things that bring you peace? Love? Are you properly invested in your relationships with loved ones and friends? Do you actively nurture and deepen those relationships? And here’s a big one. Do your relationships add something positive to your life? I told you that’s a big one. Reflecting on these six areas will deliver a very clear picture for you of where you are. Now that we’ve considered each area of our life, the next thing we’re going to do is go back and review our answers. And really take a close look at it to identify where we want to make a change. You can summarize your reflections that you just made by using the following categories. And again, this is on that worksheet that I mentioned before. Think about your favorite memories from the last year. What were your big wins? What were your biggest lessons learned? What are you most grateful for? What things did you really do well, that you can expand on? And what things do you need to put some effort in and do some work on? As you do this? Take the time to celebrate the things that you are rocking in life, because there’s no shame in being proud of yourself and acknowledging your strengths. But also make note of your low points, paying attention to their common denominators. Were circumstances that held you back beyond your control? Did they involve the same relationships? Could you have reacted to circumstances in a different way to achieve a different outcome? Probably one of the most important questions Do you accept responsibility for your own behavior and actions? This part might hurt a little bit, but if it does, then I think you probably know you’re on the right track.


Liz Craven  17:37

Now you have a clear idea of where you’d like to most focus your efforts this year, take some time to think about the steps that you’ll take to make a change. At this point. You can also choose a word or mantra to help you stay focused throughout the year. Last year was the first time that I did that. That was the unlimited word that I chose. And it was really, really helpful. It worked as a trigger for me for a more positive stick to it mindset on the most challenging days. And everyone has different challenges. As a caregiver, you might be struggling to balance caring for your parents and children at the same time. Your focus might be to find a way to consistently practice self care. Knowing that if you get sick and you’re unable to care for everyone else, the wheels are gonna fall off the bus. Your mantra might be to nourish my mind and body and spirit is to love those I care for. Or maybe you’ll choose a word instead, maybe that word is wholeness, or something like that. Maybe you work in the aging care industry and have an impossible caseload that has you scrambling to find the right solutions for your clients. Your Word, maybe that’s unstoppable. Or your mantra might be to nurture is my nature. Whatever speaks to you is the right phrase. Maybe what you want to work on is more personal in nature. Like celebrating yourself. When you have a win and not talking down to yourself ever. Your word might be affirmation. Or you could have a mantra like I am enough, and I deserve success. Whatever your self reflection revealed, identify what’s important to you and decide how you will affect a positive change in yourself. If you get stuck, you might want to reach out to someone you trust and talk it out. They might just give you a perspective you never considered.


Liz Craven  19:39

The last step of the self reflection process is to write a note to your future self. I really think this is the fun part and I think it’s fascinating on the other side of it when you get to this time next year to reread it. Write a short note to yourself to read it the same time next year. Use this note to claim your intentions. set the stage for what you’ll accomplish in the coming year. Be kind to yourself and be encouraging to yourself, you’re worthy of that.


Liz Craven  20:09

And there you have it. That’s my favorite annual New Year’s tradition. I hope that this is thought-provoking to you, and I hope that it inspired you to give it a shot yourself. Don’t forget that you can get a free self-reflection worksheet to make the process easier for you. To get the worksheet, go to the blog post for Episode 37 at Sage You can also find the link for the blog post in the show notes in your favorite podcast app.


Liz Craven  20:39

I’d also like to invite you to connect with me on social media. You’ll find Sage aging on Facebook and Instagram and you can find me Liz Craven on LinkedIn. We’ve got a great episode coming up for you next week. Heidi Herman author of on with the better we’ll be here with me to chat about the secret to getting the most out of your life, especially after retirement. So I hope you’ll come back and join us then. I wish you all an amazing 2021 full of joy full of adventure, love and lots of success. Thanks for listening, everyone. We’ll talk real soon





Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.