Well, 2021 has come and gone. The year, for many, started out with high expectations of good health, reunions with friends, and carefree living and ended with sour attitudes of “Will this virus ever end?”, “Good riddance 2021!”, and “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”.
If I’m honest, my attitude wasn’t too different at times. I had my fair share of ups and downs, disappointments, losses, and frustrations just like the rest of you. But, if I’m being even more honest, I had some really great experiences this past year too.
We all have a little bit of an Eeyore (that lovable donkey who is characteristically pessimistic and gloomy) in each of us. Camping out with our frustrations (our negative thoughts) like ”this will never end,” “will the world ever be back to normal?”, “can’t we all just get along?” is perfectly normal. Sweeping our frustrations about what aggravates us will only increase our bitterness towards things. But after a while, those negative thoughts should lead to positive thoughts of gratitude and a “life is short I’m gonna make the most of a bad thing” outlook. Why? Because negative thoughts aren’t conducive to productivity or us going forth and having a joy-filled life.
Putting COVID crises and other not-so-good issues aside, it’s important to reflect on our experiences of the past year so we can consider what’s working and where we have opportunities to make a few tweaks or improvements.
Serious Thought and Careful Consideration
Dwelling on positive things that happened to us in 2021 will help us see that life isn’t so bad after all and that there’s a lot we can look forward to.
Ready? Here’s what you do:
Find a comfortable spot where you won’t be interrupted. Spend 30 minutes to an hour taking a deep dive into what you did last year.
Use your 2021 calendar and log onto social sites (if you’re on any) to help refresh your memory. Now grab a pen and paper and begin jotting down a few highlights that happened for you. Get down to the nitty-gritty and do some serious thinking and careful consideration. Reflecting back on the past will help you as you move forward in the new year.
Here are some reflection topics to help you get started:
- Accomplishments. Write down some accomplishments you had this past year in the following areas of your life: relationships, work, health, and finance. What are you the proudest of and how can you continue on that path during the coming year?
- Lessons. Write down some lessons you learned from the mistakes you made this past year. Mistakes can be some of the best teachers! What changes, pivots, and transitions do you need to make and stick to within the coming year?
- Supporters. Who was in your corner this past year? Write down the names of some of your biggest cheerleaders. Make sure that they know that you’re appreciative. I love this quote: Friends are like your backbone. They are always there when you need support.
- Sandpaper. Who were the people who rubbed you the wrong way (like sandpaper), caused dissension, and didn’t support you. Write down the names of the people who were toxic in your life. Make it a point to set healthy boundaries with them this coming year.
- What a waste! What do you think you spent too much time on this past year that took away time doing things that are meaningful to you? Remember: when you say “yes” to one thing you are saying “no” to something else. How will you spend your time this coming year?
- Comfort Zone. What are some things that you did this past year that you didn’t think you could do? How did you feel once you did them? What are some scary things you think you could do this year to help you grow personally?
- Organize. What new habit or routine did you adopt this past year to help you be more efficient or organized in your life and at home? How did it make your life easier? What are some things that you can do to help you be more efficient in the new year?
- Read. What was the most compelling thing you read this year? Was it a personal growth book? A how-to manual? The writings of a favorite blogger? A biography? Think of everything that you’ve learned through reading over the past year and reflect on the things that positively impacted you.
- Aha moments. What new skills did you learn this past year? What new hobbies did you adopt? What biases did you change your mind about? How did you open your mind so that you could see things differently and without judgment this past year?
- Self-care. How did you take care of yourself physically this year? Were you able to “move your body” and get your heart rate up in some way each day? Did you take time to yourself? How did you destress? Did you have “safe” friends to unload some of your frustrations on?
- Amen! What were some of your prayers that were answered this past year? What were some of the things you prayed about that didn’t come to fruition? Did you sense that God was telling you or showing you something in the situation? Were you patient? Did you grow more resilient because of it? Is your faith growing? What are some of your prayers for the coming year?
Oh sure, 2021 kind of sucked when it came to COVID, quarantines, masks, and polarizing politics, among other things, but by looking back you should be able to see that there were good things that happened too. Useful lessons. Wins. Goals met. Aha moments. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find them.
Take it one day at a time this year, my friend. Celebrate your progress, be grateful for what you have (and don’t have), tell your family and friends that you love them, do more of what you love, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Before I go I’ve got one last question for you. What is at least one positive thing that you believe will be on the horizon for you in the days to come? Send me a note and let me know.
Happy 2022 from my home to yours.
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