It’s so easy to get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas with the social pressures of presents, parties and more but I have a challenge for you to change and reframe what the last month of the year is about! Instead of December passing you by in a blur, let’s make it a time of review and reflection, meaning-making and connection! Isn’t that what the festive season is really supposed to be about?
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Connection and Reflection
Rather than making December a month of overindulgence of food and drink, why not gather an intimate group of your family, friends and colleagues together to make time for personal reflection and then share your reflections with each other. You could couple this with an early morning walk along the beach, an evening yoga session or a fun game of tennis! I’ve made it simple for you and created a list of questions you can send to your friends below. Or better yet, make up your own list of questions to explore!
Reflection can be a powerful learning tool to ignite your self awareness, relationships and leadership. Better yet, it’s absolutely free to do and your reflections get better with practice.
A Magic Carpet Ride
Think of it as a magic carpet ride through the events, activities and experiences that occurred in 2021. Fly through your year from January to now, think about the moments of pure joy as well as the challenges that have made you stronger. I find it can be worthwhile to flick through your diary and note the events, milestones, projects or family moments that made an impact this year.
Step back and reflect – what did these moments mean for you? What have you learnt? By standing back and looking at it from a distance, you can elicit the learning and the meaning. There has been multiple research studies that have shown the benefits of regular reflection. It helps our performance and also makes us happier. Think of it as the debrief after the game, consider each move made, think about how strategies panned out, reflect on winning moves and ones to improve on next time.
As Margaret Wheatley said “We are, always, poets, exploring possibilities of meaning in a world which is also all the time exploring possibilities.”
Let me prompt you…
I get it… reflection can be hard if it’s a muscle you haven’t used in a while. So let me take some of the pain away but giving you some prompts to help with your thinking. Here are 10 questions to get you thinking about the year that’s been!
1. What has made you proud this year?
Tap into the experiences and achievements that made you feel happy, satisfied and alive!
Sometimes our reflections can be dogged by what went wrong and how do you improve. Instead, I want you to focus on the activities that made you the proudest this year!
What activities can you credit to your hard work, initiative or creativity? Sink into these feelings – perhaps it was something you achieved or something someone close to you achieved. Perhaps it was something you overcame this year or a lesson you learned. It could be anything – relationships, goals, hard work or your attitude
2. What inspired you this year?
inspiration: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
Re-energising is so important. Pinpoint what it was for you.
What were your sources of inspiration this year? People, environments, conferences or videos (like TED videos), movies, events, books – anything! See if you can pin point it – what or who inspired you to be your best?
What were the catalysts to enhance your knowledge, confidence, skills or work? Was it a new podcast, a key event or an important mentor? Share this list with others to combine your inspiration avenues!
3. What are your three key learnings from this year?
What’s been your major learning curves this year?
Instead of sailing into the new year without fully gaining the benefit of all your experiences this year, consider the three main things that you’ve learnt. What did you set out to learn and improve on during the year? Where can you see you improved from last year?
Where have you grown the most as a person, leader, family member or friend? Were these intended learning curves or a by product of circumstance? Either way, we can take each experience to the next level by reflecting on what we learnt.
4. What habits have served you well?
Aristotle said we are what we repeatedly do. It’s quite enlightening to realise that what you do day in, day out makes you the person you are! Maybe it’s a little scary too!
It’s so simple, but it can also mean the discipline of constructing your day to be the person you want to be. What habits did you intentionally practice this year and which ones have slipped in – good or bad? Which habits have you added this year? Which ones did you drop? How did it make a difference to your year?
5. What were your key relationships this year and how have they affected you?
Family and friends, business colleagues and community – relationships can play a key part of your happiness and also your success.
Which relationships made you feel strong and empowered? How did you intentionally foster the relationships in your life? Are you hanging around the right people? Are they lifting you up to be your best? How has your presence positively impacted on the people around you too?
6. How did you utilise your strengths this year?
Your strengths are your superpowers. How do you use them in service to the world? Do you know what your key strengths are? If not, perhaps it’s time to get clear about the strengths that you are or can contribute to the world.
How did you put your strengths to work this year? Are you using your strengths on a daily, weekly and monthly basis? How does it make you feel when you can work in your zone of genius, as Gay Hendricks would call it.
7. How did you focus on what’s fundamentally important to you this year?
It is so easy to get caught up in what everyone else wants you to do. Your email can end of being a huge list of other people’s to do actions! Your family, friends, work or even society in general can dictate what gets done.
Think about when you get into work everyday, do you reflect on your key priorities and set in for some deep, deliberative work or do you check your email and focus on what others want of you? Did you get to focus on what was important to you this year or did you get pulled in different directions?
What is fundamentally important to you and how do you ensure it stays the priority for you?
8. What are you grateful for this year?
Time to evoke a little gratitude. Make a list and check it twice!
Gratitude has immeasurable benefits to your physical health, mental health, improves your relationships, increases your resilience, helps you sleep better, improves your self esteem, not to mention, it makes you happier!
From the huge big things to the tiniest little things. What are you grateful for? If it involved people around you, this might be a nice way to reconnect with people during December and tell them what made you grateful too!
9. What have been the obstacles, hard times or challenges you’ve experienced and how have you grown from the experiences?
Yes there are going to be ups and downs in the year. Times where it didn’t always go to plan. Experiences you didn’t expect. What were your biggest challenges this year?
Revisit these tough times and bring some reframing to it – how has it made you a better person, how did you grow and what did you learn? If it’s still tough to revisit, perhaps it’s time for gather a new meaning about the experience.
10. How would I summarise the year that I’ve had?
Use your creative juices to summarise the year in a creative way.
It’s quite in vogue these days to come up with a word at the start of the year, but I want you to do this retrospectively. How would you summarise it?
What would be the theme, mantra or symbol that characterises the year that you had? How would you draw a picture to reflect on the past year? Time to get out of your head and instead into your heart and body. What colours would you use? What shapes or images represent this year?
Take some time this December…
Grab your favourite drink, put on some encouraging music and sit in your favourite chair or go outside into nature and answer these questions for yourself!? Then come together with friends and share your reflections from the year.
Look out the blog in the coming weeks for 10 Questions to Plan for the New Year.