It’s that time of year again. You know the time when we take stock of how the year went, what we did and didn’t achieve and how we wish to do things differently next year. The only way to escape this pressure to review is perhaps to hide in a cave, cut your self off of all communications, and lose contact with people. (Actually that doesn’t sound like a bad idea for a little reflection sabbatical). As I imagine you still would like to be part of this world you are likely also exposed to the year in review themes abounding everywhere.
How we look back can affect the outcome
If we look back in appreciation then we are likely to see the positive in everything we did, whether great mistakes and learning or personal success. If we look back with regret then we cast a dark shadow over all experiences that may linger with us going forward. Either way we choose how we look back. We choose how we review. Therefore we choose our result.
One trap we can fall into is the comparison one – comparing to unrealistic expectations, other people and too-high standards. When we compare in this way we risk feeling less than and lowering our experience. Again a result we create by choosing the frames of reference.
You are perfect
So my suggestion is to do a review a little bit differently this year. Let’s make it a time to acknowledge and celebrate being you in your own unique way. By this I mean whatever and however you travelled your year is just perfect the way it is. Yes I said it. No matter what you did, no matter what happened, your year was PERFECT. Perfect for you, perfect for everyone else.
How can I say this, I don’t even know you? Well when we strip away convention, expectations, measures, other people’s opinions, our own unrealistic standards perfection emerges. Perfection in that whatever we experience is exactly what we needed in order to truly live the human experience that our soul or spirit or whatever you want to call your inner essence intended. You are alive and living life, not the other way around.
What does this mean in practical terms?
At your own pace
Well lets start with pace. You travel at your own pace. Whether you choose to speed things up or slow down, you will have the corresponding experience related to you and your pace.
Take for example a typical goal or intention set by people at the start of the New Year – get in shape and lose weight. It is such a popular one on the list that gyms and other fitness related businesses do their best in January. So imagine it’s January 2010 and you signed up for the gym. If you went once a week on average then that might be fine. But what about the month you got super motivated and went every day? Or what about the two months when you travelled with work each week, barely having time to see the family and know what your own bed felt like?
Either one is a situation that happened. Either one is simply a situation that you encountered and resulted in a change in the time spent at the gym. So as a result your pace fluctuated. You got the results of each. Yet each did not matter. You are here now and that is in the past. Now you are a person who during 2010 sometimes went to the gym and sometimes didn’t. You are a person who chose to go to the gym as it suited you in your life at the time.
The pace at which you travel is up to you. So are the consequences. Your choice affects the outcome. It is really far more direct than we realize. Counting time and dates keeps you focused on how fast or slow you go.
Instead you can track how well you heed your own internal guidance telling you when to speed up or slow down. That is the real success.
It’s your own direction
Now let’s try another focus, direction. By direction I mean what you want to have happen or achieve in a certain time frame. In this case we are referring to your goals at January 2010. So let’s say for example you set out to make 2010 the year you found a new job. Suppose you were unhappy in your current one, didn’t get along with your boss and as at 1-1-2010 you felt that the only option available was to seek new employment. So you do all the focused activities like updating your resume, exploring your contacts, visiting a few agencies. The one thing you don’t do is explore how you see your current work.
Yet after several attempts to make it through an interview you are not successful. You decide to take a break. With some free time on your hands you renew your zest for life, reenergise and connect to your passion and decide to work on you. You have the intuitive insight that perhaps it’s not the job that needs work, it’s you. So you take time to attend some courses, a few coaching sessions and some personal reflection time. After a few months your goal, intention and plan you had at the beginning of the year seem irrelevant. You are now really keen to make a go of your current job, well at least the organization. So off you go looking instead for a new role in your current company.
From this example you can see that you are your own best navigator. Even though you set out on one path, your own experience shows you when to revisit and refocus. Only you know what is best for you. Only you know what capacity you have for where you are headed. Only you know what is working and not working.
You therefore are the one who needs to set your own direction, choose your own path. Others may guide or challenge you to make choices, but these people are not there to do the work for you. It is for you to experience.
Listen to your own voice
So maybe this sounds like management speak, or soft motherhood commentary but I am really serious. Listen to you! Listen to your own voice! Listen and know what you want to do in this life at all times. A year to review is just that, a snapshot in time, not a death sentence or judgment day.
You go along at your own pace whether it’s January or October. Likewise, the direction you head is your direction, not someone else’s. You choose where you go, you choose what you experience. You are a leader of your own life and the world within which you live. Others may try to control, influence, persuade you to go their way but it really is up to you. Even if you decide to ‘follow’ in the footsteps of someone else this is your choice of direction not others forcing you. Consider directions as opportunities to learn and experience.
An authentic review
Reviewing your year now can be less of a burden, obligation or sombre experience. You can instead use the moment that everyone is focusing on the year to reaffirm being you and bringing your whole, authentic self into everything you do. Rather than set out to tick off lists or create more expectations go forth with one intention as follows:
“At this point in time I choose to live life to my fullest potential possible at my own pace going in my own direction. All that I experience is for the highest good, learning and growth of me and others with whom I connect. I welcome each moment, day, month and year with an open heart and mind. People I meet keep me connected to my self by reminding me of the human experience. Inside of me I have my own wisdom and insight from which I can guide myself along the way. By being true to self I set an example for others to do the same.”
I wish you all the best with your end of year celebrations. May you enjoy the chance to say to yourself that you are truly perfect just the way you are right now. Then invite your self to enjoy the newness and opportunities awaiting you to keep living this amazing life.