The new year is my favorite time of year. It comes with this refreshing sense of wiping the slate clean and starting over. Maybe starting over is the wrong word. That seems to imply that things didn’t go right or that I need a redo. I don’t think that is the right way to look at it.
No matter how shitty your year or how challenging it may have been, I can tell you one thing, there are lessons within all of it. I lost many people this year and discuss the awareness it brought me in a previous post. Who would have thought you could be enlightened by death? Sometimes you need to search for the lessons or benefits in these challenges. They don’t often present themselves without some reflection.
Another example I can think of is in regards to my daughter, Everly. She was really struggling with reading. She was put in a reading intervention class and met with a specialist daily. Mom and Dad had plenty of homework, too. Teaching a child to read is possibly one of the most frustrating experiences for all parties. Your child gets frustrated because she can’t make out the words, starts crying, wants to give up and these meltdowns occur nightly with each bedtime. From the parents perspective, it’s extremely challenging because from my viewpoint, the English language makes no sense! How do you explain rules to a 6-year old that are not consistent? For example, the wind was too strong to wind the sail. I have no explanation for this and my child looks to me for the answers. Seriously, what the hell?
We spent endless nights reading, making little progress, leaving the situation feeling completely worn out and defeated. I sat back, thought about it, and found the lesson and benefit. We had upped our reading time drastically. I had rearranged our evening so that I could allow for 1 hour of dedicated time one on one with my child. Sometimes we read, sometimes we did flashcards and sometimes we played teacher, but all of it was time connecting with my kid. Time that I would’ve normally spent cleaning up dinner. Yes, it was challenging but I’ve gained a huge amount of patience through the process. Everly is reading great now and we continue to have our 1 hour bonding session before bedtime.
I feel fortunate that I have not had to find the silver lining in something traumatic like a house fire or a tragic car accident. I realize the challenges I’ve described here may be minimal to some of the catastrophes that people encounter. I’m aware enough to know that I’m an overly optimistic person and that I can usually find the good in just about any situation.
I think it’s important as we reflect back on the previous year that we don’t get caught up in how terrible it was or all of the bad things that happened. Throughout your year you’ve certainly had some wins too. Focus on those. Celebrate the accomplishments no matter how small. Did you spend more time with your kids? Did you become more organized? Did you read a dozen books? Did you stretch yourself mentally? These wins don’t have to be drastic, note them all. The accomplishments may seem small at first but they are building blocks. Each year you will build upon this foundation and recognize your tremendous growth and progress.
Find specific ways that you can improve the next year – whether it be changing your mindset, changing your diet, setting aside more time for yourself – there is always room to improve and build upon the foundation that you’ve created.
I personally set aside at least 4 hours before the new year. During this time I reflect on last year’s goals, wins and lessons. Taking this time is so important to me because it’s easy to overlook how far we’ve come in 365 days if we don’t do a year-end review. I’m always amazed at how much I’ve learned and how much has changed in that time. It’s a great way to close the book on a previous year with a smile on your face and look forward with gratitude and optimism.
Even if your year was a struggle and you faced issue after issue, find what you’ve learned from it. It is usually with our greatest challenges that we find the most growth, if we open our minds and look for it.
I’m going into 2019 with a great outlook. While I experienced many set backs in 2018 I know that those set backs provided me with time to think about what I should’ve done and how I could’ve improved. I had a few failed goals. I ended a couple friendships. I could’ve been a better mother and wife. I gossiped. I criticized myself and others. I got caught up in materials. I had moments of selfishness. I had moments of depression. I was inconsistent and undisciplined with my goals. I overcommitted and under-delivered. I wasn’t as thoughtful as I would’ve liked. I could’ve been there for my friends more. I didn’t always treat my body well. I sound like a real peach, don’t I?
I could focus on all of this rubbish and beat myself up for how awful I am. Even writing it down feels so gross to me and I’m sure there is plenty more. I wish I didn’t have to see it all right there. It comes with so many negative feelings of disappointment and shame. That is no way to wrap up the year.
What I should’ve said is; I set lofty goals and achieved many of them. I disconnected from friendships that were not productive anymore. I left my full-time job for a part-time position and was able to spend more quality time with my kids and husband. I became aware of my inner critic and I am working towards having a more accepting and loving inner voice. I’ve learned more about minimalism and welcome this new way of living into my life. I gave myself permission to focus on me. I gave myself permission to experience raw feelings that may have been irrational but they were real. I allowed myself the time and pain to experience the sadness and emptiness that came with it. I lived in a state of spontaneity and connected with my free spirit. I leaped at opportunities to network, grow, and contribute. I stayed incredibly busy. I retreated to a year of inner reflection which now allows me to be a better contributor to my friendships. I indulged in tasty foods and wines and allowed my body time to relax.
If you look, these two paragraphs reference the same things but one has a negative spin and the other a positive. Focus on the positive as you reflect back on your year. Find ways to turn those let downs into a lesson. I can guarantee that you did some amazing work this year. I know you had some learning opportunities, a.k.a. “challenges”. Celebrate them! You’ve made it through another monumental year and you’re launching into 2019 with so much new wisdom. Acknowledge it and pat yourself on the back. You’re better than ever before!
I’m looking forward to putting bow on 2018 and digging into our 2019 goals. As we plan our complete lifestyle overhaul and embark on the trip of our dreams, the goals we set this week will be incredibly important to the success of it all. I’ll be sure to share our goal setting rituals in an upcoming post.
I’d love to hear how you wrap up your year and what steps you take for goal setting.