How would you describe these last few days at the end of the year—in a word or two?
My description is possibilities.
Psychologists tell us that most of our responses to life were formed by the time we’re 7 years old. That’s how this time of year feels for me—full of possibilities, like I felt in the September I started second grade, when I was still excited about school.
Now that I’m long past second grade, I keep that feeling of wonder and positive expectancy with a strategy I created and use every year. Just in case you might find it useful, I invite you to try out for yourself.
Step 1: Examine Your Past Year
In the day or two before New Year’s Day, take some time to look back over the last year with a focus on all the gifts you received by living through it.
This is more than a list of what you did or didn’t do—it’s about looking beneath that list to discover that you’ve learned, what you were able to create and what you were able to give to or receive from others. You might be astonished at the way things that occurred as challenges and difficulties during the year give you gifts at year-end that were not apparent in their midst.
Once you’ve identified your gifts, take the time to celebrate them. This process can take as little as 5 minutes or as long as a couple of days. It gets easier the more often you do it, and the time it takes is a function of what works for you. If this is your first time, give the process 15-20 minutes and see what you discover; then give yourself the time to enjoy it before you take the next step.
Step Two: Savor This Present Moment
Once you’ve found the gifts you’ve received from living through the last year, take the time to look around you and consider all the gifts that currently surround you.
Mentally or physically, list everything that nourishes you—all the people, places, things or activities that sustain you in this moment. Count them, visualize them, breathe them in deeply. Fully experience your own appreciation of your life.
Once you feel that fullness of appreciation, act on it right this minute. Reach out to someone. Give a hug or make a call. Write a note or send a card. Or just breathe in this feeling so deeply that it extends to everything you do for the rest of the day and into tomorrow. It’s your call; whatever you do with this feeling will be perfect. The magic occurs when you take the time to feel it as deeply as possible and allow it to sink in.
Step Three: Imagine Your New Year
On or before January 1, when you’re ready to think about the New Year, take some time to visualize the Top 3 Things you want to accomplish this year. These are not resolutions—which everyone knows don’t work anyway. These are simply three projections of what you’d like to be celebrating at this time next year.
To get things rolling, here are three questions I ask myself—as well as my clients:
- Now that you’ve listed your gifts from the passing year, consider how many of them were the result of actions you took or decisions you made—what actions or decisions can you make now that will result in new gifts you’ll be celebrating at year-end?
- Since you’ve already spent some time appreciating the present moment, what can you see yourself doing over the next twelve months that you’ll appreciate at this time next year?
- What would you choose to do with your life this year if you knew it was your last and you couldn’t fail? (This one always gets me right into the heart of what my Soul is aching for me to do.)
Your answers will make it very easy to identify the three things that will leave you feeling thankful and blessed at this time next year.
This practice also ensures that your three things come from inside of you—from that still, small voice that’s always there, despite the fact that we sometimes forget to listen to it—and not from anyone else.
As soon as you identify your Top 3 Things, spend the next 5 minutes creating sensory proof for yourself. See them, feel them and speak of them in the present tense; act as if they are accomplished now. Give yourself this moment to imagine just how great you’ll feel celebrating them this time next year. Now you’re ready to get in focused action in 2014.
Happy New Year!
No matter what you decide to do with this practice, I’m wishing you a very happy and nourishing 2014.
Thank you for all the ways we’ve connected this year, whether it was through Dance into Your Power Individual Coaching or a Group Coaching Program, in a PowerSpeak or PowerUp Your Networking class or through a PowerPacked Communication class or coaching. Maybe a client of mine recommended we meet or we had a conversation at one of my speaking events or a networking event. No matter how we connected, our conversations have nourished and illuminated my 2013, as I hope they have yours.
And, as we used to say at the winter break in second grade: “See you next year!”