It’s that time of the year again, closing out the old and opening the new. With the end of the year here, it’s the perfect time to conduct your own personal or professional Year in Review to gage your accomplishments and growth in 2019 before you set intentions for continued progress in 2020. If you work for an organization as an employee, reviewing you performance annually is a standard process, where you reflect on your initial goals, the progress you made toward them– noting any obstacles or challenges that lead to growth, and adopting new goals to stretch towards for continuous improvement in the new year. Whether you work in an organization or are your own boss, conducting your own Year in Review can be beneficial to identify and acknowledge where you spent your time and how you grew. Keep in mind, you don’t have to review only on positive outcomes or intentional goals; you can dip into the challenging stuff too and perhaps unveil a silver lining or lesson about the situation or yourself that you would not have learned otherwise.
This awareness can increase your self-efficacy (belief that you can do it) and agency (actually doing it), and help you move forward toward whatever goals you set for yourself in the future. By attaching gratitude to your Year in Review you can acknowledge how those experiences impacted your life today for the better and reinforce a positive outlook. And in doing so, you will additionally be improving multiple aspects of your health and well-being; physically, emotionally/psychologically and socially.
How to: Year in Review with Gratitude
As there are many roads to Rome, there are many ways to conduct a Year in Review with Gratitude. Check out the following and see if any resonate with you:
- Start with Importance: Start with the most important goals/projects/stuff that you intentionally took on in 2019. Review both your professional and personal life by asking and answering these questions:
- What was the goal?
- What did it involve?
- What was your role?
- What did you do?
- Who else was involved?
- What did others do?
- Are you ready to acknowledge your goal as complete, or are there lingering actions you need to roll into the new year?
- If your goal is complete, express your gratitude for this experience, those involved and how it impacted your life.
- If your goal is not complete, ask if this goal is still important?
- If not, can you let it go and simply gain from the lessons learned?
- If it is still important, what support or actions do you need to do to finish it? Chart those actions into your 2020 plan.
Following these steps for all your intentional goals/projects/stuff that you spent time on in 2019 and repeat it for all those things you took on that were both planned and not planned—in response to whatever arose during the year. If you can tie your goals and actions back to your values, you will also see how you lived by your values in the year.
My example: One intentional goal I completed at the beginning of 2019 was to renew my coaching credential with the International Coach Federation (ICF). To do this, I had to complete many sub-goals/tasks: 1) completing a specific number of hours of continuing coach education (CCEs) over the last 3 years; 2) engaging in a mentoring relationship over a specified time period with a certified ICF Coach; and 3) submitting the renewal application and attaching all supporting documentation of the above sub-goals. As a result of this multi-step effort, I was able to renew my credential and also provide my coaching clients with improved competencies across the board. In achieving this goal, I am now in the position to mentor other ICF coaches looking to earn or renew their credential.
In expressing gratitude, I am thankful: for the ICF organization for offering this route of renewal, and to the employees who processed my application; for the organizations who offered courses in service of enhancing my coaching skills, and to the teachers who presented new perspectives and tools to increase my effectiveness; and for my mentor who helped me create awareness to up-level my coaching, and understand the value of the continuous learning process. This goal aligns with my core values of contributing to others, leading and inspiring, expressing autonomy, and being a lifelong learner.
2. Start Chronologically: Conduct a chronological review of the year—month by month from January to December. Look back at your calendaring system or journal. Where did you spend your time? What was important about it? How do you feel now at the end of the year? Ask yourself the same questions as above, 1a-1h. You can use a table (such as an example below) to map these out visually:
|Month||Goal(s)||What you did||Your role||Others Involved||How it’s Impacted||Gratitude|
|January||1. 2. 3.|
|February||1. 2. 3.|
3. Start with your Values: Reflect on your values. What actions did you take this past year to support your values? How did you invest time, effort, and/or funds into supporting that value? How have you strengthened your commitment to this value? Write down your reflection, value by value. What did you learn about your situation or yourself as you look back on a value-driven life?
One Example: If you value physical well-being, what did you do to support your health this past year? Did you have your annual check-up? Did you start or maintain a fitness program? How about ramping up your sleep ritual to ensure healthy rest? Perhaps you tweaked your nutrition plan to include more vegetables and less carbohydrates? Whatever you did to support your values, write it down. And then give thanks. To whom do you wish to express gratitude for being able to take these actions and live by your values? Always be sure to include yourself in your gratitude circle– bringing compassion and recognition for making the effort to attend to those things that are/were important.
Notice the Impact of Your Year in Review with Gratitude
Whichever method you use to conduct your own Year in Review with Gratitude, take note of how you feel after. Do you have greater well-being? Are you more inspired to continue to conquer your goals? Will you be adopting bigger/bolder goals for this next year or scaling back and noticing how that influences where you spend your time—focusing on quality over quantity?
Life is a work in progress—there is no DONE state, until we are actually done. And at that point, wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that we lived a life we found fulfilling, and intentionally chosing our actions aligned with what we believed was important? Remember, it’s never to late to start living a life with intention and aligned with your values. Just meet yourself where you are and begin from there. Stop to pause for reflection during times of transition and then express gratitude for those experiences you have been blessed with in service to growing into the best version of yourself. You will be thankful you did!
Recently, I had the opportunity to take a small group of uniquely inspired ladies on a retreat at the Keys Creek Lavender Farm, out in the country setting of Valley Center– which is about 30 miles from San Diego, CA. In this space known for growing, healing and well-being, we spent the day focusing on and celebrating “The Self”. We weren’t cultivating conceit, self-righteousness or self-absorption. What we were doing was finally giving ourselves permission to treat us the way we treat others in life… with love, kindness and compassion. Spending time to focus on ourselves is not commonly encouraged in our western culture, where to get ahead (and sometimes just to make ends meet) we work the extra hours doing as much as we can, in addition to taking care of those around us, and responding to their needs– be it our significant others, children, parents, pets, etc…. As women of the 21st century, we are conditioned to do it all: juggling work, family and home life. We rinse and repeat these conditions all the time. Given that there are only 24 hours in a day, sometimes we run out of time to do it all, and find ourselves stressed out, burned out and most of all– out of balance.
It’s All About the Selfie Retreat allowed these women to regain balance and well-being, and give themselves the care they need. They had the opportunity to slow down and experience life focusing on the present moment. They asked themselves questions like “Who am I?” and “What do I need?” They did this through various reflective exercises, mindful meditations and intentional activities that supported savoring the moment and experiences. They participated in strengths finding, walking meditation, mindful yoga, mindful eating (nourishing themselves with purpose), sending loving-kindness to their loved ones, themselves and the world, and mindful self-talk—applying self-compassion techniques to cultivate both positive emotion and to use as coping tools when things don’t go as planned.
There’s not enough time and space to describe the full retreat in one post, so I’ve broken the day down into a few posts with this being installation #1. By the way, The Selfie Retreat is a staple service of BeingMerry.com, and is scheduled to happen at least once per calendar quarter. For this post, I’d like to focus on the mindful walking meditations that promoted self-love, self-care and gratitude.
Mindful Walking Meditation
We held a few different perspectives during our walking meditation, where we either focused or opened our awareness intentionally as we moved through nature, from a vintage barn setting where the ceiling was covered with bunches of drying lavender, to the labyrinth space where a magnificent crystal sits at the center. We initially focused our awareness on the sensations of walking – noticing the sensations in our leg muscles moving us through this space, the functioning of our joints supporting our bones, and our feet touching the ground and propelling us forward. We also focused our attention on our breathing—the intake of air at our nostrils, the releasing of stress in our exhale, the rising and falling of our chests or abdomens, and the opening of our hearts as we took in all of these sensations. We were aware of feeling of gratitude inside ourselves, for the ability to walk, breathe and exist without too much difficulty in those moments.
Our focus of awareness shifted once we reached the rock-lined labyrinth. These structures are unlike mazes as they have only one starting and ending point, which are one in the same. Labyrinths have been used throughout history in many cultures and over many centuries as a symbol of one’s spiritual journey, among other things. As we slowly walked through the labyrinth, we contemplated our life’s own journey, accepting all that we have gone through that has led us here to this moment. Sometimes the difficult times we experience are hard to accept, however, if we reframe those times and look for the silver linings (the lessons we learned as a result of those hard times), we see that without both the good and the bad times, we would not be exactly where we are today.
We ended our walk with an open awareness meditation, sensing and savoring our surroundings. In this type of meditation, we are encouraged to notice everything around us employing as many senses as we can. We notice the strength and temperature of both the breeze and the sun on our skin, as well as the aroma of the sweet lavender and fresh outdoors, and finally the songs of the birds chirping nearby and the sound of feet shuffle along the dirt path. Looking at the trees we pass, we notice the texture of the bark and the shape and color of the leaves with all their gradients. We are aware of our feet on the dirt path, and realize that many before us have walked this way as well. We may feel a sense of common humanity—being a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We feel a sense of awe and gratitude for life itself—all around us, and the ability to be a part of it. We realize that we are so very blessed.
How will you take time for yourself today? Trying going for a walk in nature.
But don’t take my word for it… try a walking meditation for yourself. Focus your awareness on your bodily sensations, or open it up to nature and the world, noticing all her splendid details. Try one perspective and then the other. Explore which twist of mindful walking resonates with you. There are other things you can think about (or sense) on a mindful walk (in each step “you arrive”, in each step “you are home”—Thich Nhat Hahn encourages this perspective). The main point is that you focus your awareness, or open it up. When you find your mind wandering, as it will during meditations, just bring it back kindly to the object of your focus or intention. This kind of slowing down, and focusing or opening does not only change your body (giving it a break from the crazy running around many of us do), but also your brain (rewiring the stress response) and spirit (responding with awe and offering gratitude) as well. Try it as your-SELFIE just may thank you for it!