It’s about this time of year that many of us stop, look back and promise ourselves that we won’t be doing things THAT way again. We want to work on our shape, our attitude, our bank balance and our relationships but most of all what we really want is to feel like we are more in control of our future and there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
Speaking personally I find this time of year intense and I know that I’m not alone. We may have eaten and drank too much, done crazy things at that Christmas party, spent a small fortune on stuff that looked great in the packet but is now strewn out all over the floor and told Auntie Alice to go take a running jump. Alternatively we may have been reminded by every shop display, TV ad and happy smiling face of what we are not and can’t ever see ourselves being a part of. Christmas and New Years can be a very lonely time and that’s why I feel that it is better to concentrate on only one aspect of our self-development at this time of year and that’s the part where we get to know ourselves again.
Once the manic panic and delirium of Christmas day is done many (but not all) of us get a natural break until after the New Year bell has been rung. Traffic of all types is quieter and everyone is on the same page and generally happy to be running at snails pace whenever possible and that, in my book is to be taken advantage of!
So, how do you make the most of this natural break? Well I can’t see the point in spending the time reflecting on how bad we have been at sticking to last year’s goals in order to punish ourselves into the next year. In a nutshell I believe that it is probably best to accept that none of us are perfect and to leave what didn’t happen behind. Draw a line and walk over it – go on, sweating on it now sure as hell won’t do any good! But it IS hard to do and I’m not going to pretend that doing that is any easier for me than it will be for you.
I tend to spend this week doing two things, firstly indulging in thoughts and reflections about the year about to end and secondly by engaging in some fun circuit breaking activities!
Step 1: Self-indulgence and moody reflection.
Everyone is different but I find it best to sum up the year by looking back and concentrating on the main events of each month – and these don’t have to be major to be good main events – having coffee with a friend or spotting a beautiful bird on your hike to work are as valid as any other. As you go through each month if you are anything like me your mind will wish to dwell on the bad side of every experience too. I indulge myself a little but then, for the sake of getting the job done I let the thoughts quickly slide. The only real exception to this rule for me is if I find my mind constantly coming back to one key person, event of theme – lack of money, sickness, someone who makes me feel bad, something bad that happened. In that case I park it by writing myself a sticky note so that I can return to that thought once I’ve finished going through the year. Sticky notes represent issues and situations that can either be dealt with or swept under the carpet and if you’ve ever tried moving forward over a carpet placed over years worth of crap you’ll know that that is not a good plan.
Personally I put my year-in-review thoughts together as a virtual newsletter including photo’s, song references, places and people that have moved me in a positive way throughout the year. However, it doesn’t have to be this way – any format will do as long as it enables you to stand back a moment and see your year from a new perspective.
Step 2: Circuit Breaking Activities.
For me this just means doing stuff that the manicness of daily life doesn’t leave time for. It may be staying in my PJ’s until 1pm, Playing Lego with the kids, going on a bike ride in the middle of the day or reading a book from cover to cover. It doesn’t matter what the activity is but what does matter is that it enables your mind to shift to a different setting which in turn gives you a break from yourself! One of my other favorite circuit breakers is to just sit for a minute and watch the guinea pigs…..
When I consciously do the above I notice just how ingrained my self-destruct habits become over time. At first when I sit down with a book over lunch I find my mind scolding me, telling me that I should have hung out the washing, should be writing a piece for work, making a new product, taking the kids out etc. Sometimes I persist with the circuit breaking activity but at other times I just have to get up and do what’s bugging me most but not before consciously noting what happened and thinking for a moment about a way that I can free myself a little of that niggle……
And yes, it does all fall apart from time to time as we all want to laze around at exactly the same time as we have massive deadlines, sick kids and home chaos but that is life and as everyone is the same it seems pointless worrying about it.
So, my advice to you as a sister is this.
Don’t beat yourself up, set yourself up and then spend the rest of the year covering up yourself and your so-called ‘failed’ tracks, just invest in a little bit of time to play, to listen and to think about who you REALLY were and are and what you need to succeed will appear like magic in front of you but only if you are watching carefully.