It was a hectic December, but with the holidays comes a time to relax, read, play, re-connect, re-charge, and reflect. Or perhaps by now you are resonating with the line in the Perry Como Christmas song, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas where he sings, “And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again!”
The beginning of a holiday can seem like a huge stretch of time in which you will be able to do all you want, but often it doesn’t work out that way. How often clients have told me of their ambitious reading lists over their holidays and then found that it was really more enjoyable to do something else? Or nothing? And that’s good, too.
We all need time to unwind and just BE, rather than DO.
It is the time of year to set new goals and keep resolutions for self-improvement. But before you leap to set those new goals, pause to reflect.
- What was difficult about this past year? What did you think, do, and feel in response to the difficulty?
- What went well this past year? Which of your attributes or skills contributed to your success?
- What did you learn about yourself this year?
Being alert to our emotions at peak times of difficulty and success enables us to engage with the world more effectively. Without self-awareness of our emotions, we run the risk of reactionary behaviour which can move us against, away or toward others in an extreme or unhelpful fashion. Think about a time when something went wrong. Perhaps the experience made you feel isolated or blameworthy. What did you do next? Did you shrug off the experience and march resolutely on to the next thing by yourself? Did you seek out the solace of friends? Did you blame others? Whatever your response, what can you learn from this and what do you think would be a helpful developmental focus for yourself in the coming year as a result?
Sometimes it is tempting to adopt a purely logical focus on tasks and plans to get through a difficult period, but without pause for reflection this only serves to remove us from a deeper understanding and appreciation of ourselves and the world around us. Reflection on our feelings, as well as our thoughts and actions is needed.
So take a little time now, pause to reflect and acknowledge where you are in your life and your career, and then with the kindness and compassion that you would share with a younger colleague in whom you see potential, ask yourself, “Where does it make sense for you to focus this year? What do you want to achieve?”