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2007 is well and truly underway and I haven’t dedicated much time to reflecting on the previous twelve months. My immediate reaction to 2006 is that it was long and challenging. It felt like everything I did required sheer hard work. I finished the year exhausted, and after almost three weeks away from my job, I feel as though I am only just beginning to unwind and relax yet I have to go back to work on Monday.

Traditionally I get to New Year’s Eve and I have a meltdown. I spend time focusing on what I haven’t achieved, on how far I haven’t come, and on what I still have to do. I start comparing myself to others. I look at myself and think I am useless. As you might imagine I then feel really bad because it appears that I have done nothing or achieved nothing and that I have wasted the year. It becomes a negative exercise and my mood accordingly goes in a downwards spiral. Consequently I am not much in the mood to celebrate the start of another year and this mood then passes itself on to my family.

This year was very different. I think it is because of something I share in common with Cheryl Richardson when she writes:

Time becomes more precious the older I get and it feels more important than ever to be living my life in a way that honors my soul. This week, in an effort to help you prepare for a New Year that honors your soul, I’d like to suggest that you take a look back — look back over the year at how you’ve grown, what you’ve accomplished, and what you feel grateful for.

Cheryl suggests a great four step process for looking back which I think is helpful no matter what time of the year, or what the reason is, for doing this:

1. Gather together a few things to help you remember what occurred over the last year — I call them “memory tools.” You can use things like: photographs, an old journal, palm pilot (or PDA), year-end calendar, a friend to reminisce with

2. Write down the following 8 categories:

Personal Growth
Health (Emotional, Physical, Spiritual)
Finances
Relationships
Work/Career
Contributions/Giving
Passion/Interests/Intellectual
Physical Environment

3. Using your memory tools as a guide, consider the following questions under each category:

Personal Growth
How have I grown as a person? Am I more patient, generous, focused, or financially responsible? Have I been able to set (and protect) my boundaries? What fears or challenges have I faced? Am I less tolerant of inappropriate behavior? Am I better able to see the opportunities (or humor) in difficult situations?

Health (Emotional, Physical, Spiritual)
How have I taken better care of my body? Have I improved my eating habits, exercised consistently, or finally visited a doctor? What have I done to grow emotionally? Did I work with a therapist? Do I listen to my heart more? Am I better able to eliminate stress? What about my spiritual life? How do I stay connected to Grace, a Higher Power, or the magic of life?

Finances
How have I improved my financial health? Did I save more, spend less, or reduce my debt? What one step have I taken to better protect myself financially? Did I complete my will, visit with a financial planner, or increase my insurance coverage?

Relationships
How have I been a better partner, spouse, friend, or co-worker? How have my relationships improved? Have I released a grudge by forgiving myself or someone else? How have I shown my appreciation to others? Have I taken steps that allowed me to feel closer to certain loved ones? Did I set limits with draining people? Do I feel better about the people I surround myself with on a regular basis?

Work/Career
How has my work life improved? Did I set better boundaries around my personal time, ask for a raise, or find a new job better suited to my needs? Did I finally make a move to change something that had been bothering me at work?

Contribution/Giving
What have I done to help others improve the quality of their lives? Did I donate my time, energy, talent, or money? Did I give more to others than myself? Does my giving feel balanced?

Passion/Interests/Intellectual
Do I feel more connected to those things that make me feel passionate? Have I identified any interests or activities that ignite my passion? What positive steps have I taken to pursue these
interests? What did I do to challenge myself intellectually?

Physical Environment
How has my environment improved? Have I cleaned up my home or office, challenged myself to throw things out, or added more beauty to my life? Is my home a more soul-nurturing place to live? Is my office a more productive, efficient, and enjoyable place to work?

Once you’ve taken the time to consider some or all of these questions, do something to acknowledge your growth and progress. Share your answers with a supportive friend, buy yourself a symbolic gift, or treat yourself to something you’ve always wanted to do. When you acknowledge your growth, you build self-respect and self-trust — two key ingredients that will support you in making healthier choices for you and your loved ones from this point on.

4. Gratitude

Finally, what are you grateful for? Who do you feel grateful for? Is there a new friend in your life? Was there someone who encouraged you to follow a dream? Are you enjoying good health, a nourishing marriage, or more space in your schedule? What new changes occurred over the last year that made you feel better about your life? Who or what were involved in those changes? What challenges were you faced with that, although painful at the time, made you stronger or allowed you to express more of who you really are?

When I look back at my 2006 I realise that the reason I am so tired is because I did so much. I made the most of every opportunity that presented itself to me and I have no regrets. I have so many things that I am grateful for and I can see how much I have grown as a person through what I have experienced and learnt throughout the year. It had its ups and downs but the overwhelming feeling I have at this moment is that it was a year full of successes which I was able to share with people I love and with people that care about me. I am so grateful to have them all in my life.

I lived 2006 by applying all the passion and energy I could muster and I feel proud of this. I am so grateful to have my health, a job, a loving supportive husband and soul mate, loving and supportive children, extended family and friends, food on the table, a warm and comfortable roof over my head, the ability to laugh and love, the ability to feel and to be there for others. What more can you ask for?

As I look back with a view to moving forward one word springs to mind balance.

So here is my New Year’s haiku instead of a list of resolutions:

Balance my world
Inside and out
To pursue my dreams

My challenge for 2007 is to translate this into action.

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