4 questions to ask yourself before turning the page to a new year
Are you wondering where the year went?
Do you remember that you said the same thing last year too, and chances are, the previous and previous?
I certainly do! The interesting part is that I am always elated when a year ends.
And not only because I love the holidays. But because of that sense of accomplishment.
And I love that feeling. Checking the box for a year that brought plenty, of good, bad and of empty.
Without going all philosophical, it sometimes pains me to think that, when the clock will strike midnight, I will be feeling sorry for myself for not doing what I promised myself I would, 12 months earlier.
Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve…you’re with me here, right?
365 days didn’t yield to anything. But somehow on day 365, we are not seeing it.
So what to do to go back to that feeling of accomplishment?
Goals or no goals?
Yes, setting SMART goals work for many people, and I have seen this process getting many of my clients to where they wanted and beyond.
Setting goals helps you keep focused and motivated.
They don’t work for me though.
I have never been a big fan of setting goals for myself. Somehow, I get sidetracked even as I am putting them on paper. And I do have the utmost admiration for those who put their minds into something and boom! they get it done and more.
Not for me. But forcing myself into doing them and following the steps – failing, attempting again – taught me something valuable, that will also work for the goal setters among you.
That I need not focus on the goals themselves, but rather on progress and personal accomplishments.
And this is what I am inviting you to do as we are closing this year.
Can you spare 30 minutes? – half an hour and 4 questions to ask yourself, that’s all it will take you to say ‘au revoir’ to 2019.
Learn to rewire your brain
Before I give you your 4 questions, I am going to explain why it’s important to go through this exercise. But if you are in a hurry, scroll down to the end of the article and tada!
For the rest of us who need to understand the behind the scene, there is a ‘simple’ explanation as to why we need to take control of our brain’s behavior.
Our brains are wired to protect us. Period.
Anything that will take us beyond what we know will be labeled a ‘danger zone’.
The result? The ongoing challenges of stretching ourselves outside the now infamous ‘comfort zone’…and the fact that to keep its (remarkable) job, our brain needs to be constantly looking for something to explain and solve.
Generally, when something goes as planned, we take it for granted and we move on to the next…issue. Because what a good brain to do? Focus on what it has labeled a problem.
Here you go! You focus on what you didn’t accomplish, what you failed to do and blah blah, feeling miserable, a failure, ‘can’t wait for next year to do xyz, to lose weight, to find a better this and that…’
Rewire your brain, you were saying?
Yep! neuroscience is in!
First, by not indulging it into the nonsense of creating drama (‘those thoughts caught in a loop’).
And so does this simple trick: observe the chatter and then decide if there is anything you can do about the subject, nothing? You move on.
Once you have mastered the art of not being swayed by your inner b*lls**eer, time to make your brain work for you.
That’s step two below!
Start here: celebrate your wins
Look for the victories, the wins and the good moments every day.
I am serious.
Do you think you don’t have the time? take 2 minutes before you leave the office and jolt down everything that made you feel fulfilled, joyful, accomplished.
The smallest stuff can somehow have a big effect. A ‘thank you’ note from someone you collaborated with, a ‘job well done’ from a supervisor or a smile back from your juniors; all work.
The more you make it part of your end of the day discipline, the easier it gets, and the more things you will find to appreciate the day that ended.
Incorporate your two minutes ‘what was good about today’ as part of your next day to-do list ritual.
Now extend this list for what you did outside work.
- What interactions left you feeling energized?
- What good news did you hear today?
Bottom line, don’t get caught up with the environing gloom and doom. Newspapers and social media articles don’t get as often clicked when it’s all about rainbows and unicorns, as …you know, ‘the news’…
As you do this wrap up every day, you give your brain some valuable food for thoughts; that today also mattered when good stuff happened, that you are in charge of the narrative and no need to freak out, you are in control.
Next now: recap the year with your 4 questions
And without any further ado, here are the 4 questions that are worth taking some time to reflect upon.
A few rules of the road –
- Set some time aside to do this exercise.
- Write what comes up, don’t hold back.
- Let it simmer somewhere,
- And come back to it several days later – you are giving your brain a chance to be productive and helpful by bringing up what beneath the surface.
Remind yourself that this is not an exercise to uncover what didn’t go well, but what actually did work and needed to stay ‘pinned’ on top of your memories list.
It’s about positive change, learning from experience and growth mindset!
The 4 questions!
- What am I most proud of this year?
- What was this year’s blessing in disguise?
- Who do I want to be next year?
- What do I want to change next year?
A final word to the wise…become more mindful
Let’s stop living on auto-pilot! Pretty please.
I hear people commenting that one night you are 25 and the next morning, you are 40, and you have no idea what happened in between…
But you do know! You have just not been paying the right attention to it.
You built a life and a character, you created connections, you learned more about yourself.
None of this happened overnight, but the awareness of it is likely buried under a boatload of other ‘urgent’ ‘cannot wait’ tasks, most of which can actually wait.
We are not meant to be sleeping beauties waiting for our prince or princess to wake us up.
We can commit to ourselves, our growth; to living a more meaningful life.
- By being more present to the moment and to the experience.
- By being aware of what is happening around us and of our own internal process.
And by making each and every one of our days a new step into our personal excellence.
What do you say?