9 Things To Ponder As We Close Out 2016 and Begin 2017Stacey Blanton
The end of the year is a great time to take stock of the year behind and see where you stand with your achievements and your plans for the future. Whether you get the year-end euphoria and take out your most glittery outfits or you prefer to snuggle under the blankets and wait for it all to end, this time marks a threshold and invites a pause for self-reflection.
Reflecting your year in your own manner, honestly and truthfully, will bring you benefits of:
- Getting a clearer idea where you stand with your ambitions, plans and achievements you’ve set some 12 months ago;
- Relieving stress and a having a clear head to carry on;
- Renewing your life energy and getting a better starting point in making plans for the future.
We are all active in so many fields and play many roles in our lives – we might be parents, children, friends, colleagues, leaders in our professions, or simply self-made warriors in the survival jungle, dealing day to day with the immense responsibility of our dues to be paid and decisions to be made. When reflecting in the end of the year, the best way to focus is to try and sit in solemnity; freed from thoughts of your ever-present “to-dos” that each of your life roles is setting up in front of you.
There’s no one else present in the place where your thoughts and feelings are coming from, therefore you should be able to afford yourself an honest, “as-is” approach to looking back on your year.
In the year that was such a turmoil and mish mash of events, we suggest breaking down your own experience by giving yourself the answers to these questions:
- What were the things that went absolutely smoothly?
Although it’s in human nature to initially focus on what didn’t work, starting off with emphasizing the stuff that went well might just give you a different perspective on what the year was actually like. We invite you to leave comments to this post and name the 3 things that first come on you mind when you start saying – “Oh, thankfully, this year was good from the point of: …”
- Who gave me the wind in my back?
Be it subconsciously or intentionally, these people who encouraged us when we need it the most deserve their credits for filling in the good karma bucket. They might be our loyal friends who know when we need some party-therapy or total strangers who removed the bee off our back just before we leaned on a bench in the park. Recognize them and thank them in some way – even if the only way to do so is by sending good vibes their way.
- What were THE top moments of the year past?
Different to what went well, think of the moments and specific events when everything felt just right and life was what it was meant to be like. Again, what three would be the greatest? Ah, the refreshing reminiscence of being in just the right place at the right time! Was it a party, a shared laugh with bff, the moment you lifted those heavy weights at the gym? In the end, you’ll find it difficult to pick just three.
- What were the low moments?
Opposite to the previous, what were those circumstances when it just felt things aren’t going right? Was it a bad fight with your partner, a conflict at work or the time you felt you were going to burst when an arrogant driver cut you off? Narrow it down to three situations you wish they hadn’t occurred. This is useful because by identifying them, you will be able to approach the unwanted events in less emotional way than you would have had you started off by focusing on what didn’t seem right in your whole year.
- What are the things I would have done differently?
Identify the things you would have re-think, even they’re just the small stuff. Don’t judge or justify yourself, but try and be rather rational in thinking of your own actions. Maybe you made a hasty decision about firing someone, or you were too harsh on your strong-willed kid, or you shelled out too much money on that posh watch that looks downright awful on you? It’s okay. Just identify it. We carry a remarkable inner ability to adapt – by outlining our own role and responsibility for something we wish didn’t develop the way it did, we push ourselves out of the comfort zone, but also create a fertile land for growth and improvement.
- How did I grow? What did I learn?
And the lessons learned are not there just to comfort you. Allow yourself to realize that events in our life happen for a reason, and have faith that they will eventually lead to our benefit, while you have the wisdom to understand them and the inner strength move on.
- And to properly say farewell to it, name the year behind.
2016 was the year of _____________ .
- What are the changes I would welcome in the year ahead, something I personally can affect and fight for?
Name them. Write them down. In the year ahead I will be – able to wear whatever I like and love what I see in the mirror, I’ll have a 10% higher income, a new job, I’ll free the Saturdays for my kids, I’ll get a new car, I’ll stop justifying my actions to others, etc. etc. Specific plans and measurable achievements are the best way to boost your energy and push yourself into action.
- What is the mantra for 2017?
Now that you’ve fully unfolded your year, you can slow down and enjoy the reminiscence of the positive moments and the feeling of gratefulness for them.
Focus on the good stuff.
Building good habits is a matter of daily exercise. Just like committing to work harder, eat healthier or work out more, you also must commit to try different perspective on things. Being grateful and making a pause to sense the awe over the good, great things you already have, will be a bottomless well of your life energy even under the toughest circumstances. We can have an infinite supply of positivity if we empower ourselves to tap into our internal feeling of gratitude. Cultivate appreciation for others and let them know regularly that you are grateful for them and for what they do for you.
Be it your family, friends, good health, your career, your good way of dealing with troublesome times – there are so many examples of what can be your source of gratitude. Others can inspire you with their own examples, but the path towards thankfulness is yours to make, just like those who rely only on good things happening externally will find themselves struggling in times of challenge.
Gratitude can come in various shapes and forms – from being thankful that your year was filled with good weather and many nonchalant days, to recognizing what didn’t go smoothly and appreciating the consciousness and experience you gained out of these experiences.
- Maybe you failed at starting your own business – but now you know what went wrong and you have the support of your loving family and you know they’ll be there for you when the time is right to start again;
- Maybe your relationship is not fulfilling – fortunately your friends are there to help you communicate your issues with your partner the best way;
- Maybe you’ve gained a lot of weight, had a cosmetic surgery that didn’t give the results you expected, or had a tattoo that you now cover up with clothes whenever you see it – tell yourself that thankfully your spirit is undamaged, and for the bodily conditions, with proper plan and care – there are ways to correct everything you wish to be corrected.
One could argue that it’s hard to find what to be thankful for if we’re used to certain conditions. Those who never struggled with finances will find it hard to feel gratitude for having a roof over their head. But if you ask this same person “What makes you feel safe?” and the answer is – “the thought of my cozy house and my favorite blanket” – you’re seeing a genuine appreciation of what they have. That’s why thankfulness is an attitude, rather than constant race in acquiring material possessions, social status, reputation etc.
Gratitude is the real strength.
Being generally thankful doesn’t mean you’re naïve or suddenly blind for the bad circumstances that surround you. Gratitude is not about ignoring the challenges you face and running away from your responsibilities in order to smell the flowers and play the ukulele at the beach. Thankful people are not ever-smiling Happy Go Luckies that always “look on the bright side”. Instead, they have a balanced outlook and when life is not smooth sailing, they enter their storms while being thankful that they’ve been made aware of the problem in the first place and of what it takes to solve it.
While practicing to embrace setbacks as part of your overall journey, you might find yourself recalling a hard time you once experienced — chances are, you’ll start to feel grateful for your current state and overcoming your past.
So maybe you now think you shouldn’t have gotten married so young. Or maybe you should have taken that job offer that slipped away. Or you should have spent less time with that fake friend. But only you know and feel the benefits of the knowledge you gained. NOW you know what you want. You know what kind of partner is right for you, what type of job suits you, or you appreciate more your real friends, who stayed with you no matter what. Avoid the trap of blaming yourself for the choices you made and the time you invested in them. Think of it that your time was not wasted. The chains of events in 2016 lead you to empowerment to take your life in your own hands in 2017.
Connect and share.
Small acts of kindness make a difference in a big way when it comes to cultivating gratitude. Unfortunately, we feel most grateful for things in life when we recognize how little others have. But if we elevate our gratitude while helping others, then we create a win-win.
An act of kindness – of any kind – whether it’s volunteering or simply paying a compliment, is an amazing booster to our wellbeing.
You’re not alone.
At this time of the year, you’ll find many people around you summarizing their impressions on the year past, analyzing political events, sharing their “my year in a nutshell” videos on social media or simply evaluating their personal achievements. Many of those around you will fall to temptation of focusing on their mistakes or failures. By sharing your own good moments and the struggle you’ve gone through, you’ll be amazed by your ability to affect other in the most positive manner.
Saying aloud what’s on your mind has very liberating powers. It will help you realize that your path towards the change in 2017 is something you take proactively and that essentially you are the master of your own life.
In addition, outlining to someone else the good that has marked your year will set you up in a “positivity resonance” – when two or more people share a positive emotion. This is can be a passing smile, a shared joke, a moment of celebration – the possibilities are endless and can happen with anyone, not just people you know well.
Cicero said that “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” By practicing this skill on everyday level, you will find your life enriched with lasting fulfillment.
What will you do DIFFERENTLY IN 2017? How will you be the BEST you?
Tell us in the comments below! We enjoy reading what our clients and future clients are planning for in the year ahead!