Ah, a new year is about to begin. And as good as this season is for making plans for the future, it also provides a valuable opportunity for doing something else—something we might otherwise forget to do. That is, it’s a good time to take a look back.

Unlike the future, the past provides a vast array of real experiences to learn from. We can glean lessons from when things went well. And we can do the same with the times when they didn’t. And these lessons can prove quite valuable down the road, regardless of where we find ourselves.

Reflecting on the past can also provide some needed perspective. Some of us are always aiming for something bigger and better. But we can end up discouraged if we don’t achieve what we wanted to—despite how unrealistic, misguided, or na├»ve those goals may have been.

But instead of judging ourselves in light of where we think we should be, why not first consider where we started? By looking back, we’re reminded of how far we’ve come. We get a chance to see how we have grown and what we have done, instead of all that’s still left to do. And we’ll soon start to find reasons for gratitude instead of discontent.

But learning from the past, allowing it to shape our perspective, requires taking time to actually consider it. It means not just immediately moving on to whatever’s next. But in the busyness of life, we may forget to do so unless we’re reminded. Thankfully, this time of year, with the changing of the calendar, can provide us such a reminder.