Although you can do it anytime, the start of a new year is ideal for determining your life’s soul lessons.

There’s a lot of discussion about how best to prepare for the New Year. Do you make goals for yourself? Set intentions? Do you have a vision board? Write affirmations? Establish new habits?

All these are valuable and have their place in helping us step into our future best selves. However, before we move too quickly into the new year, there is one thing our soul asks of us.

That we PAUSE and reflect on the previous year to integrate our soul lessons before leaping forward into plans for a new year.

Pausing isn’t easy, especially if we’ve had a challenging year; our natural tendency is the breath a sigh of relief and quickly put the year behind us so we can move forward with a hopeful feeling for the coming year.

Why is it important to pause and determine your soul lessons?

The heart is believed to be the organ of love, and the soul is the organ of meaning. Suppose the soul is the organ of meaning. In that case, it becomes the energy behind the need of human beings to create meaning around our life experiences – and, more specifically, the challenging ones.

We create meaning by asking ourselves questions like:

What was most challenging about this situation for me?  

What lessons did I learn from this experience?

These and similar questions are like food for our souls.

In the post, 10 Soul Lessons For Living A Meaningful Life, I highlight my soul lessons from a year ago. I  reviewed them in preparation for doing my soul lessons for this past year. I realized something exciting when I reread them a few days ago. The previous year of soul lessons prepared me for all the challenges this past year.

A year ago, I had an intellectual understanding with some powerful personal and spiritual insights. But this past year was about living them in what turned out to be the most challenging and stressful year of my life.

The harder the year, the more time we need to pause and reflect before rushing into a new year to honour and integrate our soul lessons.

Reflecting to create meaning and integrating our soul lessons takes time and space. It’s all part of our soul contract. When we learn the lesson, we get to move on. When we don’t, the Universe gives us more opportunities to practice.

How do you determine your soul lessons?

It’s believed that the purpose of the challenges and suffering in our lives is to create opportunities for us to learn, grow and evolve. If you examine your own life, you’ll affirm what ancient wisdom has told us for thousands of years. That suffering is the catalyst for personal and spiritual growth.

According to Robert Schwartz, the author of Your Soul’s Plan: Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born, we’re meant to learn 2-3 soul lessons (max 4-5) during our lifetime. If you’re curious to hear more about your soul’s plan, you can listen to the podcast interview with Robert Schwartz on Buddha at the Gas Pump.

These soul lessons are linked to spiritual qualities that enable us to expand in several life-affirming ways.

Here are a few examples of spiritual qualities:

  • Self-love
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Humility
  • Surrender
  • Patience
  • Gratitude
  • Courage
  • Kindness
  • Peace
  • Spirituality
  • Balance
  • Equanimity
  • Unconditional Love
  • Self(Soul) Referencing

I capitalized PRESENCE because I believe that presence is the master spiritual quality. It is the quality from which all other qualities arise. When we’re present in our lives, we are open to receiving our soul lessons and have the foundation to work towards our spiritual qualities.

For example, my soul lessons are related to developing the qualities of forgiveness, humility, courage, and spirituality, all arising from PRESENCE. They’re also soul qualities that are not easy! It’s not easy to forgive myself or others. It’s not easy to have courage when I’m afraid. It’s not easy to be humble when I want to fix everything and everyone.

So the idea is that the significant challenges in our lives are intended to grow our consciousness in terms of the 2-3 primary spiritual qualities that our souls need us to develop. It’s why being spiritual is hard work! We’re not meant to bypass or avoid the challenges with our parents, kids, health issues, intimate relationships, soul-sapping jobs, and the like. We’re meant to use them as fertilizer to learn our soul lessons and expand our spiritual qualities.

If you’re unsure how to determine your soul lessons this lifetime, reflect on the significant challenges in your life.

Ask yourself:

What spiritual qualities have arisen as a result of these challenges?

Are there themes emerging for you as you reflect on your life?

What significant challenges did you have in the past year?

Write down your reflections and highlight 2-3 spiritual qualities you’re meant to work on. Once you’ve identified your spiritual qualities, introduce a habit that supports your growth. For example, if you need to begin with the master spiritual quality of presence, perhaps consider my go-to for this quality: a simple meditation practice that helps you become more present.

Then a year from now, when you look back, you’ll gain valuable insights, expand your soul and have a new plan for the coming year. Connecting the dots in this way fuels our spiritual curiosity and keeps us open to what life asks of us.

Our life fuels our soul’s growth, and our evolution brings us closer to our true selves.

Please share the spiritual qualities you’re cultivating below. Our community would love to hear from you and be inspired by your soul lessons!