Wow! Friends! We are so freaking close to the end of 2021!! As we get closer to the end of the year, I always get excited. I am happy that the end is near and we have a fresh start in front of us. In 2022, we’ll start fresh. We will have a blank slate to work with and have so many opportunities in front of us. That’s why I want to share with you three areas I want you to consider focusing on next year. But, before we talk about that, we need to talk about 2021.
I’m going to ask you a few question and challenge you to journal on them. Answer them honestly and write down everything that comes to your mind. Don’t pass any judgement on what you write down because this isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about learning.
Question 1 – How did the year go for you?
For some, this was a hard year. For others, this year was a piece of cake. When you answer this question, think about all the good things that happened, all the hard things that ended up being learning opportunities and everything else in between.
Like many, for me, I’m not where I thought I’d be. I didn’t get further in my career, but it was a year of growth for me. I pivoted once and am thinking about pivoting again. Because of all these changes I’m making (or at least thinking about making them), I would say the year has gone well. If I didn’t go through this year, I wouldn’t be able to learn where I need to go moving forward.
Question 2 – What activities did you enjoy or not enjoy?
Throughout the year, events and appointments go on our calendar that we don’t really want there. But we say yes because we feel obligated to attend. Look back at all the activities you did and see what you enjoyed. Which ones warmed your heart and made you have fun? Take note of all the good and the bad and see what you may be able to change for next year.
For me, I’m sure there were TONS of activities I did that I wasn’t thrilled about. The things that feel forced are the ones that would go to the bottom of the list because they didn’t light a fire in my soul.
Question 3 – How did you spend your time?
This one is critical. If you have a planner (and you should), it will be much easier to figure out. Every year we spend thousands of hours in meetings that could have been wrapped up in one simple email. I know you’ve been there. But time is the only constant we have control over. We choose how to spend it. Look back on your year and figure out where you spent your time. Was it useful? Productive?
For me, I know there was plenty of time wasted. Social media or Netflix sucked me in and instead of moving the needle, I let my brain go numb. I bet you can say you did that too.
Question 4 – What relationships were extinguished? Which ones grew stronger?
I ask you to think about this one because they say we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Our relationships are essential to living a happy, healthy, mindful life. Some of your relationships may have ended in turmoil, while others may have just fizzled out. Regardless of the ending, analyze them and figure out why they ended.
The same goes for your relationships that grew stronger. Why did they grow stronger? Why did you form a bond with someone? There’s always more to surface layer feelings so go deep. Get to the crux of it. You’ll learn what you want to bring with you into the next year and what you want to leave behind.
I get sad and happy when I think about this question. I know there are relationships that fizzled because we decided to go different paths. One path isn’t more right than the other, but sometimes relationships just end. But on the other hand, I have some relationships that grew incredibly strong. These are ones that will stand the test of time.
Question 5 – What goals did you accomplish?
It might not have been many, but I bet you accomplished something. Because we were still kind of in pandemic land, many things were out of our control. We might have needed external resources and just couldn’t access it. But if you got out of bed every day, you accomplished something.
I certainly didn’t accomplish some of the things I wanted to, but I did start my podcast. It had been something on my heart for a few years and I just didn’t think I was ready to start. I wasn’t “big” enough, everything I was going to say someone else would have said it and who the heck was actually going to listen. I ultimately started it because I remembered my big goal – JUST HELP ONE PERSON. If I do that, then I’m golden.
Question 6 – What are some of your favorite memories?
While you might not remember everything, I bet you’ll remember a lot. The fun you had with your pups, the amazing meals you had and the weekend getaways that were pure magic. Write down the emotions you have with each of these favorite memories and why they are so special to you.
For me, my most favorite memory of the year was my surprise weekend trip to Portland, Maine. It was to celebrate my 40th birthday and while it’s not memorable because it was my birthday, it’s memorable because of who was there with me.
Question 7 – Do you feel accomplished or defeated?
As a previous question mentions, you might not have actually accomplished any goals this year. That doesn’t mean you won’t have a sense of accomplishment. You can feel accomplished for getting out of bed and going to work when you don’t feel like it. Even just doing simple household chores is an accomplishment sometimes. Put aside your goals for a second and see if you actually feel like you did something this year.
I know I am not where I want to be but I know I’m closer. I had a year of exploration and investigation and learned a lot about who I am, where I want to be, how I want to live my life and more. It’s been a hard year, but yes, I feel like I accomplished a few things.
Despite each year being somewhat of a challenge, I always think there’s room for growth. That’s why I ask you these questions. If you’ve put in the work and got your answers down on paper, then you’re ready for the next step. You have the data in front of you so let’s get to those three areas I mentioned at the beginning. Those three areas are:
- Focus on being happy
- Focus on being healthy
- Focus on being mindful
These areas are crucial to living the life you deserve and it’s the mantra I’ve followed for years. If I make sure to touch each of these areas every single year, then I can go to sleep soundly and know that I’ve done what I can to live a good life. Let me explain each so you get a better idea.
Focus on being happy
Happiness comes from within so you need to do activities, participate in events and be involved with things that bring YOU joy. Not anyone else. Remember the things that make you smile and laugh? Those are the things you want more of in your life.
Spend time with people that YOU consider family. They don’t have to be blood related either. They can be people you choose that will lift you up and make you feel whole. And if you need to, start saying no to invites that you know you’ll be unhappy accepting. Remember to leave room for the things that DO make you happy.
Focus on being healthy
It’s all about balance right? That’s why I encourage following the 80/20 meal plan. That’s when you’re eating healthy 80-85% of the time and leaving room for more fun foods the remaining 15-20% of the time. Hey, if you want the cookie, have the stinking cookie!
Practicing self-care is a part of being healthy too. Practice it weekly, at the very least. This can look like taking a bubble bath to delegating a task to even taking a solo walk through your local nature perserve. Self-care is anything and everything that cares for your mind, body and soul.
And make sure your relationships are healthy too! Those superficial ones don’t need to stick around, you want ones that are deep. Know who your friends are that you can call at 2AM and they’ll pick up. Those are the relationships you want to have in your life.
Focus on being mindful
When you think about being mindful, do you think about meditation? Friends, I promise you, that’s not everything that mindfulness has to offer. Being mindful is about being present in life and seeing the world for what it is. For me, meditation has never really stuck so instead I try to put away the phones when I’m with people and be focused on them and what we’re involved with.
To help you become more mindful, set timers on your phones for how much you use them each day. Same goes for other electronics like the computer and game system. You can even block time off on your calendar so you have forced White Space. That’s the time when you have room for unplanned, spontaneous activities.
Setting goals is a part of being mindful too. Both personal and professional goals can help you grow, improve and become more present in your daily activities. Set them monthly, quarterly and yearly. Push yourself and your year will be yours!