The end of the year naturally prompts a period of introspection, personal growth, and self-discovery. Yet all too often, this can be a fleeting moment as we approach the fresh year, with any thought and actions for change dwindling by the end of January.
We are now about to head into February, therefore a twelfth of the year has nearly passed. Has it flown past, or dragged? What have been the highlights? The challenges? What are you doing to keep yourself on track to what you wish to achieve?
Are you leading and steering your life, or are you drifting?
We can all be guilty of using ‘busyness’ as an excuse for not managing to do what we wish. Indeed, we have much to manage across all areas of our life, but there are ways to try break the cycles and make the desired more possible.
🔅Break down the larger tasks into smaller ones and make sure you do give focus each week and month, so that by the end of each, you see progress and not time that has slipped, regret or any other negative connotations.
🔅Be honest in your self-reflection, be aware what is holding you back? What is the purpose of doing what it is you wish, and why are the hurdles so far?
🔅Be clear on the desired outcome, what this will mean, and also how achieving the different stages towards achieving this help the bigger picture.
🔅Map out your stepping stones and timeframe, being realistic and mark each milestone in your own way.
🔅Address the environment around you; it may be other people or situations are negatively impacting your plans. Be aware, develop a strong support network, make any necessary changes, be aware in protecting your life boundaries.
Many top leaders and high achievers believe in the power of an end-of-year reflection. Every year from 2013 to 2019, James Clear – author of the bestselling book, ‘Atomic Habits’ – published his annual review of what went well, what didn’t go well, and what he’s working towards in the future.
Use the reflection of the first month of the year as a springboard forward; notice how you use your time, what you’re doing, what aligns with what you may have set out pre New Year. Use this time of reflection on January as a wake-up to how the year ahead could ride out – if you don’t like what you’re seeing, get ready to make positive change!
Some useful tips include:
🌟Remove the noise; find quite time
With so many distractions, inner contemplation can seem almost self-indulgent – but it is one of the best ways to take steps towards the life you truly want to live.
Put all your technology aside and take some time by yourself to reflect on what has been with the key part being, only to use this reflection to then decide how you would like the future to be. Don’t dwell on the past; it’s been and gone, but you can use as lessons and guidance to moving forward.
Remove the noise of life to be able to reflect and plan.
Quiet contemplation can also help you notice self-sabotaging habits that don’t serve you. You may identify unhealthy patterns and ways you are holding yourself back.
You may also identify ways that you have enhanced your wellbeing; the good habits that make you feel better.
🌟Give equal attention to the positive and negative
No matter how you choose to reflect, give equal focus to the positive and negative. As mentioned on the above, don’t dwell.
It’s human nature to analyse what went wrong; critique your behaviour and thoughts and beat yourself up for where you should have done things differently.
Making a concerted effort to focus on all the positive things you experienced helps to provide you with a more balanced – and realistic – view of life has been. By celebrating the wins across all areas of your life, you get a great boost for the months and years ahead, and can identify the things you want to do more of.
When reflecting on the negatives, think about what hasn’t gone quite so well – such as the goals you set but didn’t achieve – and be honest with yourself about why. This helps you understand how you want to evolve and make changes – and can also help you let go of what has happened.
You should also practice gratitude for the obstacles you faced! Although difficult at the time, your challenges help you grow, and can even give you a new perspective or outlook on life.
🌟Set new goals
Once you have fully reflected on what has been, it’s time to focus on looking ahead, and now leaving what has been behind. A couple of powerful questions to ask yourself is:
~When I reflect back at the end of each month, what needs to happen to make me consider it in positive light?
~When I look back again at the end of the year, what would have I love to have achieved? What 3-5 things would make this a good year?
These answers help to mould what your focus should be; ultimately, your goals. These do not need to be grand! It’s about what you would like, these are entirely personal to you. It could be a commitment to connecting with others, volunteering, a professional change…the choice is yours!
No matter what path you take, you should ensure the goals you set are realistic. Though do stretch yourself!
No matter how the year has begun, know that you are in the driving seat. Yes, there will be a few wrong turns, perhaps get lost, but you get to choose the next steps – always. Don’t let time drift by, lead your life, and remain attuned to what is helping and hindering you, and adjust accordingly.
Also use the end of each month to check in with yourself – how was the month that’s been, what’s been good, are you doing as you hoped and if not, what can you do to get back aligned in the following four weeks.
Make reflection part of your day-to-day life, not just once a year.
Make this a year to bring smiles, cheers and celebrations on reflection and as you journey through.
LEAD your life …