End of 2010
by Dr. Peggy Marshall
As we reach the end of 2010, I want to remind readers of the importance of reflection to our growth and success. There is not a better time for reflection then at the end of something and the beginning of another. I know most of you are thinking-“Is she crazy-doesn’t she realize how busy my schedule is?” I certainly do as my schedule is also brimming to the top. However, if we don’t set aside time for reflection we risk moving into 2011 without a solid evaluation of what’s working in our lives and what is not. As a result we could be destined to repeat 2011 in the same manner that we moved through 2010. I find in my busy life that the best time for reflection is the last week of the year as activities seem to have reached their peak by then and I feel like I can take a breath.
Reflection is an important component of how adults learn. We learn from not only from our experiences but also from the interpretations and reinterpretations of those experiences. When we pause and reflect upon circumstances and then apply a different framework to our circumstances we can create new ways of acting and thinking. Using the process of reflection and introspection on an on-going basis leads to increased levels of awareness, insight, and self-acceptance. Many times these times for reflection can result in epiphanies from which we can chose new thoughts and behaviors.
Many of us started the year with a list of goals that we wanted to accomplish. Instead of thinking about what we didn’t accomplish, I am inviting you to think about what you did accomplish. This is a slight deviation from what we typically do as we tend to beat up on ourselves for not doing more. With this exercise will focus on what went well in 2010 and build upon those accomplishments.
One exercise I use with clients is to build a timeline of successes for the entire year. Take a sheet of paper, turn it on its side and then draw a line down the middle. Above the line write out all of your accomplishments, successful activities and deeds-both big and small. Sometimes we don’t want to include the little things on the list, but I encourage you to count them as they might be full of surprises for you. Below the line write in why you were successful-was it a certain person, you had the time, etc? Where did you spend time that resulted in something good happening for you? Reflect upon what you are most grateful for during the year. You can leverage this gratitude in 2011 for even more success.
Next review the following questions and pick a couple to focus on:
Are there any patterns in your accomplishments, i.e., mostly work
or at home?
How do you feel about what was accomplished?
What did the people you encountered teach you about yourself,
about the world?
Who were the people that helped you most with your success?
How did you celebrate your successes? How did you react to those
opportunities which were not successful?
Did any experiences change you?
Were there any barriers that prevented you from changing?
Did anything cause you to challenge yourself about, your ideals,
your philosophies, your concept of life or the way you live?
When did you feel most alive? When did you feel the most passion?
What were the best parts of 2009? What made them that way?
Was there a day or event that you would like to do-over because it
was so amazing?
Summarize the most important things you will take with you from
this year’s experiences.
For next year begin to think about:
What do you really want to learn or do?
What is it, in your heart that you must do, be and have? And why?
What’s something you cannot “not do?”
Now that you have chosen your list of questions, spend some time in reflection before you answer. Write down your responses and then set them aside. Return to your timeline as you have time. This process will allow for you go much deeper as you reflect on achievements and events in 2010. If you set aside an hour a week from now until January 1st, you will have a sizeable amount of information from which to build 2011 goals for yourself.
You also might want to consider sharing your timeline with family or friends. It will give you an opportunity to celebrate your successes and will most likely surprise them because we often take for granted those things we do accomplish easily!
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!
To your success!