In the mad dash through December to the end of the year, it’s easy to be swept into the busyness of the season. But amidst the ‘crazy busy’ rush, do take a bit of time for yourself to reflect on the year past before diving into the year ahead. Clients, friends and readers of my ‘stuff’ know that each year, I share 12 Questions to complete the year and start anew. I’ve started to do my own reflection on this year’s questions. Notably, I’ve started in on the ‘What went well’ Q and was startled at my list. You see, it’s easy to forget the good things and instead focus on the spots that challenged us. Prior to that question, I literally forgot so many things that deserved to be acknowledged. By writing down my list of all that went well, I ended up with a completely different perspective on how my year went. I invite you to do the same. See below for this year’s list. I hope you enjoy the opportunity.
A word about this year’s list…
This year’s list features some of the same questions from past years as well as some new ones. I tend to include questions framed within a lens of positivity and appreciation. Why is that? Because our brains are built with a negativity bias which means we tend to more easily focus on and remember the negative and forget the positive stuff. It’s actually natural for our brains default to what went wrong; what was missing; what hurt; etc. This has to do with evolutionary forces – to protect ourselves from threat. The casualty, however, is that the positive moments – while lovely at the time we experienced them – are more slippery on the brain and more easily forgotten.
So as not to Grinch yourself out of what went well in 2014 we need to reflect intentionally to ensure we capture the good and take a more balanced perspective. Also worth noting is that positivity broadens our minds and ability to see more and think better; it amplifies our capacity to build more personal resources, stretch ourselves, boost our efficacy and success in our lives. Who wouldn’t want more of that that?
Worth a try – so let’s start with this year’s 12 Questions.
THE YEAR PAST
1) What went well?
A year later, months gone by….it’s easy for the good stuff to go unnoticed and lost amidst the brain-hearty ‘tough’ memories. So rewind that video (of life in 2014) and mine for all that did go well. Dip in generously and pull out all the good nuggets small and large. Write them down and look at your list; you may end up being very surprised about what kind of year you had after all.
2) What changed for the better?
Chances are you’ve changed in some way from a year ago. In what ways did you grow and evolve this past year? What new skills, knowledge, habits and experience did you develop that made you a better version of yourself from the previous year?
3) What were the gifts of 2014?
Gifts come in all sizes and packages. Often they are disguised or easily lost in the tougher moments of life. Take time to recall the stand-out moments, experiences and circumstances of the past year and see if you can identify the silver lining in each of them. Some will be obvious but the ones buried in your tough moments may take more digging. E.g. if you lost a job or suffered a disappointment, perhaps that event made you stronger or propelled you to take action to remedy your situation. As one door closed is it possible that new doors have or are about to open up for you?
4) What and who are you most grateful for right now?
As I wrote in my Thanksgiving articles, gratitude should be a daily practice as it is one of the most fuelling positive emotions and habits one can cultivate to bolster success and well-being. Reflect and write about all that you are grateful for right now as you wind down your year. Consider all facets of your life (health, social, career, family, other). In particular, think about the people in your life that you appreciate. Find ways to overtly express thanks to those who have made a difference to you. Mark your year-end with a big dollop of gratitude and you will see a shinier year both behind and ahead of you.
5) What do you need to let go of or complete now to start anew in 2015?
We need to make space for the new and for the good – because sometimes the ‘old stuff’ gets in the way. Take time to let go of or clean out anything that is in the way of you bringing the best of yourself to 2015. Perhaps it’s a decluttering of your physical space? Or letting go of an old resolution or goal that wasn’t really very meaningful to you? Old ideas, limiting beliefs, deconstructive mindsets….if they aren’t serving you, toss them out!
6) If there was a theme for the past year for you, what would it be? Wrap up your year by giving it a name (besides its actual number). Complete this phrase “For me personally, 2014 was the year of ___”
THE YEAR AHEAD
1) What change(s) would you like to create for yourself? Consider both personal and professional contexts. Clarifying and declaring what you want is the first step to creating a vision for your future. Of course, having a plan to follow-up can be most helpful too!
2) If you could celebrate just one ‘win’ (an accomplishment) at the end of 2015 what would that be?
What would be one tangible evidence of moving forward on something important to you? Make sure it is something that you have some control over. Then reflect on what actions you can take to help make this happen? Consider new habits, commitments, support systems that can be part of your plan.
3) What are your learning goals for 2015?
All too often we create ‘having’ goals but omit to think about the ‘learning’ goals. People who continually develop themselves and are open and proactive to learning are more apt to feel engaged, inspired and energized to accomplish more. Learning can be a means to and end (a goal) or it can be satisfying on its own merit. What skills, habits, new learning areas will be part of your personal learning agenda in 2015?
4) How will you boost your positivity habit this year?
Positivity has been proven many times over to increase your potential for success and well-being. The science says we need a daily diet of positive emotions – even when (actually, especially when!) the going gets tough. What will you do to ensure you bring more positive emotions and moments to your day? Read here for some ideas.
5) What and who will inspire you in the year ahead? Inspiration is another powerful positive emotion that can spark better thinking, more productivity, happiness and well-being. Plus it just feels so great! Inspiration comes in many forms and we can invite more of it into our lives any time. Sources vary and can come from people, events, ideas, or more. What inspires you and where can you get more? Perhaps join up with a networking or learning group; Follow and/or connect with thought-leaders or people that simply ‘move’ you (read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, tune in to Ted Talks, etc.); Spend more time with nature (or the arts) if that’s your source; And so much more. Be aware of the stuff that inspires you and make a plan to get more of it.
6) What’s your ‘word’ or theme for the year ahead?
Complete this sentence: “As I reflect on my year ahead, this will be the year of ____”
Wishing you a positively wonderful, joyful and safe holiday season.