Life is passing us by so fast.
We’re almost at the end of the year and before we jump frantically into the next one, we need to stop and recalibrate. If you had a sloppy start to the year, then even more so.
I actually find it helpful to use the end of a year as a way of making my resolve even stronger.
Let me define the word ‘strong’.
Strong doesn’t necessarily mean successful, wealthy, famous or having the capability of earning yourself a celebrity status. It simply requires that you become the grounded tree trunk that stays firm, no matter how many winds forcefully try to uproot you, and from this state, being able to choose how you move forewords.
This is how we build our strength.
Instead of seeing New years eve as a door firmly locked and bolted; in between the champagne and fireworks display, I see it as a conduit by which I can enquire. A way I can gain data about where my playing field is and decide if that’s where I want to continue to play.
Questions offer a tremendous point of inquiry, a wise point of reference which shouldn’t be used as a demoralizing tool or an excuse to flagellate daily. It’s performed free of judgment and with plenty of compassion for yourself.
Each year carries a story with it; a chapter in a life that has been lived.
Navigating through each one is like reading a book that annually brings a new genre along for the ride. It could be thrilling, adventurous, fantastical, mysterious, romantic or even horrific.
It catalogues our story and another chapter in our lives. Some years have longer paragraphs, an incessant number of full stops and at others, they are filled with an exclamation mark after exclamation mark.
But each chapter matters.
At times we want to skip through them, that’s how painful some years can be. Yet our personal roller coasters give depth and intensity to our story. They become our own personal blockbuster, even a potential Amazon bestseller worthy of a publishing deal.
The truth is that no one wants to buy an uneventful book.
Part of the reason we hover around the fiction section at Waterstones for ages is to pick a book which hooks us in most. The one with the most flawed character which has overcome knockback after knockback, whilst we cheer on silently as we sit curled up on the sofa.
I don’t know about you, but I always read the first page of the book before I decide to buy it. I want something gripping, not the mundane run of the mill start. I want to be transported into someone else’s life and live vicariously through their experiences.
As your own personal story unfolds, you need to be present to what it’s teaching you, and occasionally pause to re-read some of the pages. Asking yourself which turn did you miss, which opportunities did you let go, and why you didn’t re-route when you had a chance to.
I was recently coaching a client who was reflecting on this past year.
Unfortunately, she had lost an obscene amount of money at the beginning of the year which had impacted her greatly and each time she recalled it, she felt paralyzed with anxiety and shame.
In the past three months, she had become a partner in an events agency and was hugely hesitant before doing anything slightly spontaneous or creative. The experience of losing her money had zapped her creative spark and taking risks of any type was completely off the table.
I asked her to converse with the daunting experience of losing her money.
She thought I was crazy
Facing it was an impossibility, she couldn’t stare at it in the face or (god forbid) converse with it and the very notion of it made her feel weak and disempowered.
I told her to go back to the experience and ask it what it was coming to teach her. She reflected for a moment and said what I had been expecting;
“It’s trying to tell me that I was a people pleaser and never said no. I would spend money just so that I could avoid confrontation and difficult conversations with people, I just wanted to be liked.”
She was surprised by what had emerged from her reflection. Essentially, the experience wasn’t telling her that she was an ineffective businesswoman, or was incapable of taking risks.
She was just too addicted to people-pleasing and being liked.
The loss of her well-earned cash, although traumatic, could be the gift that came to teach her about how she was living her life.
This is how we finish strong. We look back at the times we messed up and we use it to open a dialogue with it. So that growth becomes the focus, rather than a failed outcome. It’s a more creative way of doing it rather than asking yourself ‘Why is life unfair?’ ‘Why is everyone better than me?’ or the classic ‘Why are people out to get me?’
They are dead ends and take you nowhere.
So look back at this year.
If you had a word to describe this year, which one would it be?
When I was reflecting on this question earlier in the month, I realized that ‘impermanence’ is my word of the year (actually, of the decade). Because I’ve unconsciously created one short chapter after the next. There have been just far too many full stops and too many endings in my life.
Now I want longer paragraphs and never-ending chapters.
The beauty of this is that in realizing what I don’t want, I can now focus on what I do want for the year coming.
The word I want to use this year is ‘permanence’. This means building a stronger foundation around my life, decisions being more permanent and long-lasting, rather than floaty and superfluous.
Once I’ve made a choice to create something different, I need to ask the all-important question:
Who do I need to be, to create this?
If I want to create more permanence, then I have to create different habits, behaviours, and choices. In turn, each decision I make this year has to be passed through the filter of ‘will this help me create more permanence?’ If it does, then great, and if it doesn’t, then it needs to go.
When looking back on the past year,
What do you want to bring into your life?
What do you want to let go of?
Who we become through life is clearly marked through the energy we bring into each ending, how we complete each period and the lessons we take. No matter how wobbly our start has been.
In fact, each wobble, no matter how tough, has a message it’s waiting to tell you if only you could slow down and listen before jumping into the next year.
What is each beginning and end trying to tell you about how you live your life?
Listen to it.
We need to be in constant conversation with life, not just when we’re panicked, in crisis or when we find ourselves in impossible situations. It’s about leaving the door open so that you’re able to pick up clues which indicate if you’re going the right direction.
In order to do this, we have to slow down to a snail’s pace at times. Bringing more space into the equation, and in this arena, we invite more silence, less filling up with meaningless content.
We can hear what life wants to communicate to us when there is less noise.
This is how we take a shaky beginning and use it to teach us that endings don’t have to bring loss, recriminations or accusations. It can bring surprising answers which we use to create a more solid foundation.
The end then becomes the powerful vehicle we travel through to the next period of our life. Entering the coming year with more wisdom, insight, and grace.
If you liked this article, you can read more chapters like these in my latest book ‘Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living’ available now on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, send an e-mail to [email protected]