And so another year draws to a close and it’s been a difficult year for many.
I understand now why my parents used to say that the years just seem to fly by. As a child the holidays seemed endless and the days full of promise. But as you get older (and certainly since the advent of electronic connectivity and our 24/7 lifestyles) you realise how quickly time passes creating a sense of urgency to be doing more, having more and being more “before it’s too late”. Yikes!
Already, plans are afoot for next year and the lists of jobs, ideas and projects is growing on a daily basis….even though there are things on this year’s “to do” list that are yet to be completed. Does that sound familiar? If we aren’t careful, it can all become quite daunting and it’s easy to end up in a place of overwhelm, anxiety, self-criticism and sleepless nights.
So before you drown in a sea of voices telling you all the things you did wrong or didn’t get done, the goals you missed and the mountain still in front of you, spend a few quiet minutes giving yourself some credit for how far you’ve come.
By putting some structure around your assessment of how you navigated the past year you can gain some all-important perspective about your achievements and the lessons learned. This then gives you the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start the New Year with fresh objectives and no baggage. You can toss the baggage out with the rubbish on New Year’s Day.
So take a piece of paper (it seems to work better if you actually write it down) and answer the following questions:
What were your top achievements for the year?
Take a moment to really acknowledge these no matter how big or small. Give yourself a pat on the back. They are important and it’s so easy to overlook what we have achieved as we rush on to the next task or listen to the negative self-talk we all have swirling around our brains. Maybe you’ll have one thing on the list or maybe 10. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you see these achievements as the accomplishments that they really are. Perhaps you are not at the finishing line yet but you have made a start and that’s fabulous. Well done!
How did you grow in the past year?
Consider the new experiences you might have had. Perhaps you experienced a new food or exercise or job for the first time. Maybe you met new people or read a thought-provoking book or blog that changed your outlook on something or inspired you to make a change for the better.
Maybe you made some changes in your life or perhaps you had to face some unpleasant situations. These times when you are taken out of your comfort zone are all opportunities to grow or deepen your understanding of yourself and the world around you and most importantly, to develop your self-confidence. So make a list of all the opportunities for growth that you have experienced this past year and acknowledge your preparedness to step up and give it your best shot.
What lessons have you learned?
Let’s be honest. None of us get it right all the time. But these mistakes afford us the opportunity of being able learn and grow.
So think about the things that haven’t gone well. Write them down too. Now that there has been some time elapsed since you were in that moment, you have the benefit of some perspective. Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, you did better than you thought at the time. If you had your time over, what would you do differently? How might you do better next time? Maybe you need to be prepared to say “No” or maybe you should have planned better or perhaps you might have benefited from taking a different approach to your dealings with certain people.
The point is not to criticise yourself but to accept that you are human, take the lesson on board, reflect on what you will do the next time a similar situation arises and move on with confidence, humility and, most importantly, wisdom. Oh, and don’t forget to forgive yourself. You’re not expected to be perfect.
So, take note of just how far you have come in the past 12 months and really acknowledge the progress you have made. Congratulations! You should be proud of yourself.
Is it time for a mental spring clean?
“be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop”
Do you need to let some things go? Anger, resentment, guilt, embarrassment perhaps? Or perhaps it’s time to let go of the negative self-talk and the things you tell yourself that really just aren’t serving you. Are there goals or projects that you have been carrying around for years that, when you stop to think about it, no longer fit into your view of your future? Let them go too.
Make some space in your mental garden for new ideas, plans, dreams and goals to seed and take root. Now you are ready to move into the next chapter of your life. Enjoy!