Having lived in the same city for 35 years, I tend to shop at the same places, eat out at the same places, see the same people. I’m generally happy with all of that, or I would probably change my habits. And yet, as we close out 2017 and look forward to a new year, most of us hope it will be…happier, healthier, more productive, more prosperous, more fun, filled with more time with the people we love. Chances are, without an intentional and deliberate approach, 2018 will be a lot like 2017.
When we think about having “more” of something, we need to know our starting point. What made us happy and where was happiness missing? In what ways do we feel unhealthy now? What opportunities exist for us to become more productive or prosperous? What was fun and in what ways can we fill our next year with more of that? Who are the important people in our lives and how can we connect more?
I offer this Year in Review as a structure for you to take stock of your experience of 2017. Each question will prompt you to discover something important about the year you’ve lived and encourage you to create a vision and goals for the year ahead. Each of us has the opportunity to make 2018 MORE of everything we want. It just requires our attention, creativity, and commitment.
- Who did I meet this year that is now in my life? What do I value about this relationship? If I’ve learned something significant from this person, how can I put it to use in other areas of my life? In what ways do I want to develop this relationship in the coming year?
- What emotion caused me to grow? Emotions get a bad rap in our society. We’re taught they are dangerous, a waste of time, that we should “get over” them. In fact, emotions are the most reliable indicators of what’s true for us. Where we get confused is in appreciating the difference between acknowledging our emotions and expressing them. When we feel a strong emotion, something we care about is being ignored (and we feel angry, fearful, frustrated) or valued (and we feel happy, proud, grateful). Our emotional state is an early warning system that we are foolish to ignore, as our body language, tone of voice, or actions betray our true feelings. We’ve all experienced people with a frown on their face who insist, “I’m not angry!” when we inquire why they’re angry. As we tune into our emotions, we may find that our anger or passion spurs us to speak out or act, in spite of our fear of doing so. Becoming more authentic, honest and courageous offers us many opportunities to make a difference in our lives. Recognizing the power of our emotions helps us take greater advantage of this important source of information.
- In what ways am I different than I was at the beginning of the year? In what other ways do we want to use these new skills or characteristics in our life and the world?
- What did I do that completely surprised me? What allowed me to do this? As we know ourselves better, we become more confident and are able to use our talents in more intentional and productive ways. Since we surprised ourselves by doing this and are obviously more capable than we thought, what else might we want to do?
- What is the biggest challenge I faced? What was difficult about this? What internal and external supports helped me overcome this challenge? How might I put these supports to use on other challenges I’m facing?
- In what area(s) of my life did I make progress? What’s the next step I want to take with this? What am I still tolerating? How do I want that to change? What would make the biggest difference in my life?
- Whom did I help? What talents and skills did I use? Where else might they be of service?
- What am I most grateful for? How might I show my appreciation or experience more of this in the coming year?
- What were the most fun times I had? What opportunities do I have to include these activities or people more frequently in my life?
- A year from now, how do I want my life to be the same? How do I want it to be different? What is the first step I can take toward that end?
With my warmest wishes for a year of authentically being you – bringing your desires, passions, and gifts to every area of your life. The world is in need of everything you can offer. And in this way, 2018 will be filled with more of everything you want.