As the year comes to a close, I find myself taking time to think through this past year and imagine forward to what comes next. This is hardly a new practice. The familiar idea of making New Years resolutions can actually be traced back to the Babylonians, who as early as 2600 BC took time to reflect on the old year and make plans for the new. The ancient Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana does something similar, making time for introspection and prayer, for mending, finishing, letting go, and reconciling.
As humans we seem to have a universal need to look back over the year, finish things that need finishing, purge the unnecessary, thank those who need thanking, and so on. But it’s easy to forget in our over worked, hyper-productive culture. Looking back and processing our experiences helps us move forward happier, healthier, and with greater insight and inspiration.
Often we are so full of what’s next that we forget to applaud ourselves for the accomplishments that have gotten us to where we stand today.
Here’s a list of 5 prompts I have given myself to reflect on this past year.
1. Write down your big trials & tribulations
You learned valuable lessons and skills from these challenges, and overcoming them has proven to you that you can overcome the next obstacle!
2. Write down your successes
You’ve most likely you’ve finished a big project, overcome one of the above tribulations, or passed a milestone in the past year. We have a tendency to judge ourselves in comparison to where we WANT to be rather than how much we’ve GROWN. Writing down your successes and achievements helps re-align your expectations of yourself and is grounding, especially for the inner perfectionist.
3. Write down praise you received
The compliment you got the other day (or 6 months ago) didn’t just come out of nowhere. Chances are that it was based on observations of you over a longer period of time. The praise you receive can acknowledge the day in day out work you do, and the fabulous way that you do it. Looking back at this praise can help you to better see your strengths, positive traits, achievements, and successes which you can now utilize for the next part of life’s great adventure!
4. Write it all down
Don’t edit yourself. Allow yourself to just get all of your thoughts out on the page without judgement. If one of the above ideas takes you on a tangent, most likely the tangent needs a little thought too.
5. Send thanks
Look at your list. Take it all in. Then write down the names of the people that helped you along the way — No one can do it alone. Take a few minutes to thank these people. A simple card, an email, or a phone call can mean so much.
To the Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur I know first hand how powerful the relationship of the small business owner and their business is— So I want to suggest that if you have a business of your own make a list of your accomplishments or the signposts you’ve achieved on your entrepreneurial path. Whether you have been in business 3-months or 7-years it’s easy to become discouraged in the day-to-day and forget where you started (my business celebrates its 7th birthday in January 2014!). Remembering where you began and stopping to appreciate what you have built is an important year-end activity.
I just read an incredibly honest article by Stephanie St.Claire, 11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business. Stephanie’s article is the first article I’ve read about being an entrepreneur that deeply resonated with me. If you’re considering opening a Pilates, GYROTONIC, or fitness studio read this article. Or if you’ve been in business for years, just take a few minutes to read this article.
One of the points she makes is that the relationship you have with your business will be one of the most rewarding, challenging, and important relationships you will ever have. This is so unbelievably true. As teachers and entrepreneurs our work can be so much more than work, and the endless little things we do to support our endeavors need to be acknowledged.
To the Teacher
I was speaking recently to an instructor and friend. When I mentioned the topic of this article she said in a surprised tone, “It was only January last year when I realized I wanted to be a Pilates instructor!” Then she began to list all that she had accomplished in this very short time. I was just as amazed and she. And hearing her brain-stormed list made me smile because I never would have thought she could do all that she did in one year. Write it down and tell a friend. I guarantee that you will surprise yourself.
Look at what you created through your teaching. Look at how much you and your clients have grown. Pat yourself on the back for getting to this point where you stand today. It has not been easy but think of all you have learned.
This year take the time to acknowledge what YOU do and what you have done in 2013!