Every year, around this time, I make sure I take some time to reflect on the year just gone. I’m not one to make impulsive, and often unfounded, new-years resolutions, but I get a sense of being grounded by reminding myself about what was hard that I got through, what I’m grateful for, and what I learnt that I can take into the new year.
I start with the lowlights – the things that didn’t go to plan, that challenged me, that created pain or hardship, and I acknowledge that these are inevitable components of what it means to be human.
I follow-up with my highlights – surprises, unexpected good outcomes, achievements I’ve worked hard towards, people that have given me strength and support, and all the ways in which I’ve lived my passion and purpose. I make sure that for every lowlight, I come up with three highlights, to create a sense of positivity and help counteract any negative emotions arising from the lowlights.
Reflecting on my highlights puts me in a creative, positive and open state, which is great for generating new awareness, thinking and perspectives. How am I seeing things differently now compared to a year ago? What lessons have the lowlights taught me? What new strengths have emerged in me that helped create my highlights? What do I know about myself that I hadn’t been aware of before? What has changed in how I see myself, how I respond to others, or how I see the world around me? Is there one big truth that I will now try to live by?
Sometimes I’ll take myself down to the beach, to a nice park or to my favourite coffee shop to reflect. Some years I just sit outside in the sun with a bit of music in the background. Sometimes I like to be in a busy place full of life and atmosphere, other times I’d rather be somewhere peaceful on my own. And there are years where I write all my thoughts in a journal, and others where I just sit and purposefully ponder. Experiment and choose the style and setting that works best for you. And if so inclined, for an extra boost of positivity and connection, share your key lowlights, highlights and insights with someone important to you.
A lowlight for me in 2020 was being mistreated by an employer I had given my heart and soul to. Highlights included a weekend diving with the giant cuttlefish, joining a ukulele band, and completing my Advanced Coaching Training. And my key insights? I’ve shared some of them throughout the year – act on what’s most important, be kind and stay connected. I think my one big truth for the year is that we are less in control that we think – goals and plans are important but we need to keep a light grip on our attachment to them, as we just don’t know what’s around the next corner.