As the year ends, I often think about the year in review. It’s interesting what a longer view reveals. The bright spots and signs of progress can be so easily missed in the day to day worries of what’s not yet done.
If you’re feeling discouraged about a so-called lack of progress with your career, business, or any goals, I think my kind of personal year-end review— focusing on the signs of progress— will help. I’ll explain.
It’s that time of year for looking back. Last night I went to a neighborhood bonfire for winter solstice. We went around the circle, sharing things we want to let go from this year, and tossed it into the fire.
Then we had another round to share intentions, like being more appreciative and turning toward more stillness.
I threw in the fire my tendency to worry so much about every little thing. May it be released. Then I stated an intention to keep turning toward radical acceptance. May it be so.
Beyond that, I did my own little inventory. I’ll share what I did and give you some suggested ways to do your own personal year-end review (the positive kind).
Looking Back… How the Little Steps Add Up.
I’m a big believer in taking time to notice the bright spots from the last year (as my clients can attest since I suggested it as homework to many of them this month).
As an example, here are two things I noticed as bright spot shifts in my work life:
- A year ago, I felt so inept and frustrated with video editing, and now I can do it fairly easily. I’m excited by what a difference that learning has made. Video editing is even fun now, like a creative outlet. (For a 50-something person like me, this new skill is no small thing.)
- Also a year ago this week, I was nervously putting down a big deposit on a new website, worrying (as I do) if the investment would work out. Ack, a risk. Now, after a lot of work on my part and my new team’s part, I have a new website I love and a great team of people to continue to turn to. The risk paid off! (My website makeover story is here.)
It’s felt good to see how all the little steps add up. It’s also good for me to notice that gulp of a risk has paid off, and that helps to boost me for future decision making.
Your Own Look Back…
I invite you to reflect back on your year too. You might surprise yourself with the bright spots you find.
You can try some of these questions:
- What is easy now that felt hard a year ago?
- What little steps can you thank yourself for doing this year?
- What’s a risk you took that you’re glad about?
- What are 3 signs of progress, no matter how small?
- What are 3 things you’re grateful for from this year?
See if you can find at least two bright spots, and ideally keep going with as many bright spots as you can find, for a nice boost. If needed, be as vigilant as your dog in sniffing it out. You’ll find the bright spots.
Widening the View to Many Years…
This process also led me to an insight from a multi-year perspective. It hit me today about this one simple change I made over 15 years ago. What a difference it has made, and continues to make, quietly in the background.
I started a daily habit years ago, of listing at least 3 gratitudes each night. You hear about the power of gratitude all the time, and I can surely attest that doing it has changed me and how my brain works. It started helping within a couple weeks actually, which helped me stick to it.
As a result of that gratitude list habit, I feel how my brain turns more easily toward appreciation and seeing the bright spots. That more positive mindset, in turn, is good for me and people around me. That one simple thing has had a big impact. Interesting to notice this over the long view.
It’s hard for me to start a new habit, and now I can’t even stop myself from doing nightly gratitudes. It’s ingrained. Nice to be on the other side of that habit-building hump.
My mind (and I think any mind) can try to focus on the habits I still need to cultivate. Blah blah. Sure, that’s true.
But for today, I’m consciously turning toward what is already happening, even if it’s so easy and barely noticeable now. I’m choosing today to appreciate the helpful habits already in place.
Want to try this long view with me? Some questions you can try:
- What’s an ingrained helpful habit that makes a big difference in your life already? Maybe it’s been there so long that you hardly notice it anymore.
- What are some things you almost take for granted in your life that make a positive difference for you? (You can include things like running water, electricity, your spouse, your kids sometimes cleaning up after themselves…)
- What is something in your life today that you didn’t have 10 years ago that you’re so grateful for?
Here’s my brief list of answers, for a sample:
- daily gratitude list
- my amazing spouse who does so much for us; and living by a forest that feeds my soul.
- my dear friends and in-law family I didn’t even know 10 years ago.
A tip: If you’re starting to look back and it kicks you into thinking of what still needs to be done, set that aside for now. That’s for another day, and when you can bring compassion to it.
Have fun with it. You might invite a friend to join you.
#brightspots #gratitude #yearendreview #littlethingsmatter