This is a special time of year. We’re in the final stretch and it’s a time that we begin to ponder our lives. What kind of year has it been for you? I believe it’s valuable to reflect and account for your life this time of year. Enjoy the changing of the seasons, the decorations, the great food, and time spent with family and friends. Cherish those you love and prepare to welcome in a new year. But, take time to yourself and soak in what was this year and how it changed you, impacted you, hurt you, and uplifted you.
Looking back and reflecting on the past year can be encouraging and hurtful. Life is edgy and sometimes cold and challenging. In a moment, you’re on top of the world and in the next, you’re downright miserable. No matter what happened this year, all of us are different than we were when this year started.
For me, I lost an uncle, I experienced extreme physical pain in a fire accident, and I failed to meet several goals. I also experienced profound growth professionally and took my family on incredible vacations, and enjoyed financial success. This was a year of new beginnings and a glimpse of what’s to come for me and my family. It’s been an incredibly busy year with not much time to reflect; therefore, I’m determined to use my holiday season to slow down and ponder what’s important to me. How about you?
I believe it’s healthy to reflect and if done right, can be a valuable exercise that will allow you to prepare for next year. Here’s what I plan to do:
1. Mourn the losses: Loss is a part of life. Loss comes in many forms. It could be the death of a loved one, losing money or an opportunity, loss of quality time with those that you love. You feel those losses deep within you bones. It’s healthy to acknowledge the loss and the effects of it.
2. Celebrate the wins: Thinking about the bad comes easy and it’s natural to account for what’s missing, but what about what you DO have in life? How did you win this year? It doesn’t have to be big wins, they can be small, but it’s important to acknowledge them and celebrate them. Did you repair a fractured relationship? Did you get a raise? Did you lose 10 lbs.? Let the happiness and satisfaction of those wins fill your soul and provide fuel for the momentum you will need going into the New Year.
3. Acknowledge the hurts: People hurt me this year. It’s unavoidable and to be expected. Relating with others is messy and it’s inevitable that you will get hurt. Acknowledge those hurts and assess how it’s affecting you. It is okay to feel hurt, but it’s not okay to hold onto that pain. Forgive those that hurt you and let it go, don’t carry the frustration of challenging relationship into the New Year.
4. Recognize the fears: Fear has no place in your life. Fear, if allowed to go unchecked, can dominate your decisions and stunt your growth. Don’t allow it and bring it into the light and confess your fears to someone you trust. What are you afraid of this year? What’s holding you back? What frightens you going into next year? Acknowledge your fears and then ask, “Why do they scare me so much?” Don’t worry about finding solutions for those fears, just bringing your fears out into the open will be enough to begin the process of healing. Your solutions will come in time.
5. Be grateful: A key component of healthy reflection is to acknowledge gratitude and reflect on your blessings and on those in your life that are a gift and enhance your life. It’s healthy to remember who’s blessed you and recount the wonderful things you have in your life. It will provide perspective and push out the bad that’s developed in your heart. Write down everything you’re thankful for and allow that spirit of gratitude to enter your heart and bring a smile to your face. It feels good, doesn’t it?
6. Dream of what’s to become: Open your imagination and begin to dream about what you hope for in the New Year. Don’t hold back and worry about resources, just dream and reflect on what is truly important to you and begin to ask, “what if?” Allow your soul to explore the edges of your dreams and begin to expand your mind to the possibilities. You only live once, don’t hold back.
7. Give everything to God: The final step, and most important, is to bring God into your plans, for without God, you have no plans. There’s no doubt that God is in control of my life and when allowed into my life, He blesses exceedingly and abundantly more than I can ever imagine. Once I reflect and take account of my life, I turn it over to the Lord and ask that He take control and guide me in a way that will honor Him the most. I admit, this is the hardest step for me, because I often lean on my own understanding, but every time I submit my plans to the Lord, He never lets me down, without exception. Get into the habit of giving your life back to the Lord and He will lead you down the right path.
Life is a beautiful adventure that gives so much and takes so much from us. We all do our best and ultimately fall short of expectations, but never give up and continue to give your best. Stop and reflect on what you accomplished this year and where you fell short. Face your fears and don’t be afraid to dream big. If you’re still breathing and your heart continues to beat life into your body, then you have purpose and people are blessed by you.
Reflect on your life, enjoy your life. Take it all in, for it will soon become a distant memory and the world will move on and so should you. Take a moment to yourself and acknowledge this year. Take a deep breath and shed the necessary tears and smile on what you experienced. Begin to dream for what is to come and don’t fear your next chapter, embrace your life, grab on and enjoy what your future holds.
Happy holidays to you and your family, I’m grateful for you!