You may be receiving lots of emails this week about how the year will get away from you if you don’t yet have your goals defined. It’s as if they’re saying,
If you haven’t yet developed your plan, you’re screwed. You might as well write off the year. It’s over.
Do yourself a favor: stop opening those emails. Those people are trying to stoke your fears.
Take a deep breath. You don’t have to abide by anyone else’s timing.
Here are a few tips to help you settle in and avoid overwhelm.
(1) Relax: You’re Not Too Late
There is no race. And if this were a race, know that working in alignment with the natural energy of the universe will take you farther, faster.
Winter is a time for hibernation and slowing down. Align with the natural energy of the season. Give yourself permission to take a few chunks of time over the next week to complete your reflections of 2018.
In fact, with last year completely behind you, you might find that you have greater perspective than you might have had in the holiday rush.
Remember that January 1 is an arbitrary date. While it helps to define a period of time, the calendar offers us many opportunities to pause and take stock, and many opportunities to set intentions and outcomes.
In addition to the secular New Year, here are some other popular dates for marking new beginnings:
- the new moon
- the equinoxes and solstices, when the earths rotation slows down
- birthdays and anniversaries, or other personal milestone days
- the various Lunar new years: the Jewish calendar marks four different new years, there is also the Chinese New Year coming up soon
Any moment of transition offers us the opportunity to pause, reflect, and recalibrate. Transitions include moments of expansion, like starting a new year or a new job, moving to a new home, growing your family through marriage or having children, or starting a new project at work.
They also include contractions, such as the passing of a loved one, breakups, divorces, getting fired, ending a business, and even the moments when we fail in a project.
Life gives us these opportunities to reflect and assess. It’s up to us to pause and take advantage of them.
Every day you wake up in a new body with new cells. Every day is a new year. You can start at any time.
(2) There’s not one way to do this
You might find, as I do, that you’re best able to reflect when you’re away from your desk. I find that I will often get my best insights at the gym or when walking around the city.
Whether you’re reflecting on the past year or defining your vision and outcomes for this year, keep in mind that this isn’t an “assignment” to be completed in one sitting.
Plant some inquiries in your consciousness and then open yourself to the process. Allow it to unfold.
In December, I facilitated my year-end reflection ritual for a small group. Although I hadn’t yet started to reflect on my year, holding circle for that group oput my mind into that mode. Since then, I’ve noticed that I’ll remember various moments from the year, or have insight into a situation that happened last year.
Rather than aiming to “work on” this process, let the process work on you.
Capture your reflections, ideas, and insights as they come up. This will give you a head start when you sit down to write. You will find that once you get started, it will be easy to get into flow and you’ll think of more things you want to harvest from last year, or other pieces of your vision for this year.
(3) Set a Deadline for Each Phase of the Process
There comes a point where you have to choose to be complete with each part of the process. The reality is that throughout the year I tend to recall things from the prior year that inform my path. It can be an ongoing process. For the purpose of your formal annual review, the piece that you commit in writing, set a deadline for yourself to complete each phase.
January 1st is a date loaded with stress for a lot of people. With the holiday rush it can feel like there isn’t time to get distance and perspective on the year. Personally, I prefer to tie things to a date that is not the 1st of the month.
Focus on one phase at a time, starting with the reflection on last year. Pick a date by which you intend to be complete with that part of the process.
(4) Commit Your Reflections to Writing
The process is working you as you’re going about your day. Shouldn’t that be enough? Do you really need to write it down?
The short answer: yes.
As much as you might be tempted to skip this step (I know I am), don’t.
You probably already know about why it’s important to write down your goals. I find that it’s even more important to write down my reflections from the past. Especially my wins and the wisdom I harvest. Whenever I review my journals from my previous year-end reflection processes, I see all the amazing things I did that I completely forgot about. When I have moments of feeling like I’ll never achieve anything, I am so grateful I took the time to write down all of my wins. Nothing boosts your confidence more than seeing all that you’ve achieved before.
Write it down. You’ll thank yourself later.
(5) Create Space For the Process
Create space for yourself to engage in the process, especially the part where you write it down.
Helping others create space for their best work is a core focus of my mission. The art of Creating Space has many components. Here are the most crucial three:
Block Time in your schedule. Put it in your calendar, as an appointment. If, like me, you struggle with keeping appointments with yourself, book a conference room or other space somewhere. (see next tip)
Choose a Space where you can focus. For most of us, that means a space that is not on our regular path. Don’t try to do this in your kitchen with your family around.
Create an Environment that is conducive to this process. You don’t have to get fussy with it. Focus on simple things:
- cue up a playlist that gets you in the mood
- light a candle
- grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, or a glass of wine
- keep your cell phone out of the room
Give yourself the luxury of reflecting and recording what you want to celebrate and harvest from last year, what you want to bring with you into this year, and what you want to leave behind.
Bonus Tip: Have Fun With This!
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that people tend to get very serious in January. All the fun drains from them. Allow yourself to have fun with this process. Look back at your amazing accomplishments, feel into what you loved about the past year. Celebrate those pieces and choose what you want to take with you into the future.
If you’re not enjoying the process, why do any of it at all?
Share here in the comments or on social media (tag me @reneefishman) and let me know if you’re engaging in this process and how it’s going. What’s coming up for you? What questions do you have? I’m here to help!