About 10 years ago, I learned a practice that has changed my life. As in 180 degrees. That’s a bold claim, and it’s true.
Over the years, I’ve molded it, added to it and made my own year-end practice. I’ve shared it with friends and clients, and I invite you to create your version, too, and enjoy the results.
It begins with a simple list. A list of everything you’ve accomplished in the last 12 months. And a little reflection.
Why does it work?
There is nothing like a trip down memory lane to put you in the right frame of mind to plan, scheme, dream and design what’s coming up next for you.
People can get hung up on designing their lives and work for a few reasons. And the first one is that they don’t see themselves really accomplishing what they set out to do. The second is that they don’t take stock of what they’ve already accomplished. (And yes, these are connected.)
Research shows that reminiscing about positive events can increase feelings of happiness.
It can also help us solve problems, gain perspective and know ourselves better.
Reflecting on our successes—as we define them— also gives us a practical and healthy jump start on any goal-setting, planning or resolution-making we may be wanting to do.
It’s not so easy to discount what you do and what you’re capable of doing when the evidence is right there in black and white. It’s hard to keep up an argument in your head when you’re grounded in how it feels to accomplish something that’s meaningful to you.
Want an easy way to savor and celebrate at year-end? Here’s my process. But have fun with it. How you savor your accomplishments is as individual as you are.
Start early. December is a busy time, so it can seem like a chore to sit down and savor all that’s happened in the last 12 months. Who has time for a pat on the back when there’s so much to do, right? Keep a running list. Open a document or pull out a notebook in January and start. Add to it regularly throughout the year, and do a final sweep at year-end. If you like, use a whiteboard, Post-its or some other visual option.
Make yourself judge and jury. Celebrating and savoring starts with your own definition of success. If it feels like an accomplishment to you, then it is. End of story. Don’t sell yourself short. Maybe it seemed easy to accomplish because it used your strengths or you had help. It goes on the list.
Begin with the big things. This is the highlight reel. The big goals that you feel really good about reaching. The raise. The promotion. Getting your fitness on track. Crossing that trip to Italy off your bucket list. You know the ones.
Don’t forget who you’ve been. How have you grown and changed this year? Did you speak up for something important at work? Did you finally learn a bit of patience? Make important shifts in a relationship?
The ones that fell in your lap. Chances are, even the things you intended but didn’t actively work for are important. Often, these are the sprouting of seeds you planted at some point. Like the new client referral. The event that changed your perspective. The help that came out of the blue.
Your impact. Where did you help others? What choices did you make that left a positive impact on others?
Savor it. Some people have trouble with this one. But trust me, the initial discomfort goes away quickly. Carve out a little time to savor all that you have made happen this year. Read your list and let it sink in. Celebrate, especially the items that feel really meaningful to you. Do something to acknowledge yourself.
Share it. Find at least one person who champions you and supports you in being at your best, and show them your list. Talk about it. Invite them to make one of their own.
Mine your accomplishments. Now, look at your list again, with new eyes. What did you learn on the way to these accomplishments in your life and work? How did they happen? Who did you need to be to achieve these things? What lessons will you take on board as you set new goals? What worked and didn’t work?
Now—and only now—are you fully prepared to start planning for next year. And with this foundation under you, chances are that you’ll be brimming with fresh enthusiasm and plenty of possibilities.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with this process. Tell me how it works for you.
CC photo courtesy of .curt