Twelve months is a long time, as much as 2015 seems to have flown by at lightning speed.
On an individual level, the past year consists of many elements, including:
- the struggles of day-to-day life,
- other challenges, as well as
- various sized accomplishments.
As 2015 draws to a close and we approach the new year, it is an ideal time to take stock of our personal growth, achievements and what went right for us in 2015.
Ensuring the glass appears half full
In a drained state of mind (which many of us possess come year-end) we tend to automatically perceive scarcity – rather than abundance both internally and in the world around us.
In this way, a drained state of mind exacerbates part of our year-end lethargy and hopelessness.
The following reflective exercise is designed to get us thinking about abundance and personal accomplishments, and it requires consciously foregrounding the positive.
As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created [the same problems].”
What follows are steps to assist in reviewing the good in your 2015.
ONE. Jog your memory
Using a calendar, look over the days, weeks, and months of the past year.
Allow memories about various days and periods to come to mind.
TWO. Note triumphs and challenges
Jot down what comes to mind.
Whether your memories are of clear triumphs or of challenges you once thought were insurmountable.
Consider the following questions about the challenges you’ve faced:
- What changed for the better?
- What lessons did I learn from these challenges?
- What did I learn about myself in the process?, and
- How did I assist myself through dark periods (even if this was merely asking for assistance or “just hanging in there”)
Perhaps you want to pat yourself on the back for surviving moments that you once thought would never come to an end or resolve themselves!
THREE. Acknowledging growth and achievements
Perhaps you grew more professionally than spiritually during the year.
That is fine.
Sometimes all needs are not equal and there were underlying reasons for you favouring certain needs over others.
(Be gentle with yourself and put “balance” on your future goals’ list.)
Perhaps you did something for the first time this year, like:
- joining an adult dance class,
- starting a home improvement project, or
- completing a novel you have been meaning to read for years.
Note these achievements – regardless of how trivial you might think they are. You are moving the right direction!
FOUR. Additional tips
- The above-mentioned steps are designed to get your creative juices flowing and to support a potentially flailing neutral-to-optimistic frame of mind.
- You might find additional memories surfacing well after starting this process. That is normal! Add these to your notes. Remember that self-care and development are life-long endeavours.
- Some of us might want to be more creative when creating a record of 2015. Go for it! Do what works best for you (e.g. using a notebook, Word file, Excel spreadsheet, or poster to capture your thoughts on).
- Consider referring to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as inspiration for recording some of the good we tend to take for granted.
For instance: while you may not have been promoted to CEO or completed a PhD this year, you still went to bed with a warm plate of food and a roof over your head each night. Don’t forget these and other blessings!
- As alluded to earlier, remember that “just hanging in there” is often an achievement in itself.
In the same way, just “showing up” is an achievement when all one wants to do is throw in the towel and curl up in bed for the day.
- Lastly, you may find yourself writing “buts” after positive statements BUT in the interest of self-care and support we are less interested in these thoughts today. Do me a favour and draw a line through those “buts”!
Come year-end, we tend to reflect on the past year.
As previously mentioned, we are also more likely to “reflect” from an exhausted and glass-half-empty frame of mind.
Perceptions (based on our feeling states) are not one-to-one reflections of reality.
Take some time out of your day to support your mind in remembering your positive gains during 2015. Surprise yourself. There is more to record than you currently realize!