Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Gallup Certified Strengths Coach
As I’m sure you are well aware – life offers us many lessons and as we look back – what a year 2020 has been! The end of the year seems to be approaching fast and I’ve been wondering whether it would be easy to miss or even forget some of the valuable lessons double underlined and highlighted to us this year. With this in mind, I hope this article encourages you to schedule some undistracted time in your diary, where you can intentionally pause, reflect on the biggest lessons life has offered you, to support your transition into a new (and uncertain) year. Whether you see your experiences of 2020 as positive, challenging or difficult, each one offers an opportunity to be better prepared as we move into a new year, to be resilient and wise, to live a kind and meaningful life, to explore and design your best route forward from here.
One lesson that kept being highlighted to me in 2020 has been about transition. The unrealistic expectation put on us – from ourselves, at times from others and even technology to “just be able to” adjust from one thing / situation / physical location / emotional state etc, at great speed, to another to “keep up” with the pace of life around us. “Transitioning well” was first highlighted to me this year when I read “Burnout – Solve your stress cycle”, I won’t go into detail about the book (but I recommend reading it), what stood out was our human need, the necessity to “complete” our stress cycle. Transition is of course a process for the whole of us – our mind, body, spirit and soul. It can be so easy to move from a stressful, intense, challenging, draining, fast paced situation – either in the short term, day to day, or longer term and never exhale fully and replenish our reserves and resilience to be ready and able to move into the next situation or season well, in order to live and work at our best everyday and thrive.
Would you find it helpful to take some time to shift your focus to review the year coming to an end, to notice and celebrate what you accomplished and learnt (rather than focus on what you didn’t do!) before thinking about what you hope for next year? If so, grab a notepad and pen (maybe a cup of tea or coffee) to ask yourself some questions, to think deeply, unlock your thinking and find some powerful answers to help you keep moving forward. Use these prompt questions in the most helpful and meaningful way for yourself. There is no need to answer all of them – although you may choose to, you may prefer to identify just a few to answer.
2020: Retreat to advance
What makes this year memorable for YOU?
What achievement are you most proud of from this year?
How have / will you celebrate this?
What have you enjoyed doing this year/ what has brought you joy?
Where did you spend your most precious time and energy? Does this reflect what matters to you?
What made life meaningful to you this year?
With this in mind, how will this impact where / how you spend your time and energy next year?
What is one thing you have tried this year that you have not tried before?
What did you read, listen to and watch that made the most impact on you? What inspired you? The content we consume inspires us, shapes our thoughts and ideas, and helps us to reach our full potential. Have you gained any new ideas or perspectives? Have you taken any actions as a result of what you learnt from what you read, listened to or watched?
Who or what are you grateful for?
What is one new discovery you made about yourself?
What have you learnt about solitude and times alone?
What have you discovered that you enjoy doing at work that you hadn’t noticed before?
Did you make any good changes in your life/ work life? What has the impact of this been?
What did you start/stop doing? What did you do more/less of?
Did you make any changes to the way you think?
How did your self-perception change this year? In what ways have you started to see yourself more positively? For example, how have you seen your resilience and strengths?
What self limiting beliefs do you chose to let go of? How will you practice this?
In what ways have you stepped out of your comfort zone this year? What did you learn?
What was hard, challenging or disappointing? As you think about this, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the emotion. What message does this emotion offer you? Have you processed your emotions? If not, how do you find it helpful to process your emotions?
How did you cope with your greatest challenge?
What did you find most stressful?
What did you worry about most? How have things turned out? How did you manage your worry?
What has made you feel afraid? What did you do about that?
What have you felt sad about?
What made you feel angry?
How have you intentionally prioritised you and your well being?
Where did you fail? What did you learn? Acknowledging our failures without letting them define who we are is an act of courage. It helps us accept ourselves as we are. Asking ourselves “did I do my best” helps us acknowledge our failures with kindness.
What did you try that didn’t work out? How did the process of trying it move your thinking forward in a helpful and productive way?
What have you been encouraged by?
What is the narrative you are telling yourself at the end of this year? Is it true? Is this helping or hindering you to move towards where you want to be?
Which of your top strengths have you used the most this year? Which of your strengths do you want to use more as you go into a new year? How will you do this?
Of everything you have done well in life and at work this year, what have you done best?
As you reflect on the last year what does it highlight about your top values/ what is most important to you? Overall, have your actions aligned with your values?
What new insights have you gained about your purpose / calling or career?
What is one thing have you realised is an “essential” in your life? What will you prioritise next year?
What are your top 3 lessons learnt over the past year? How will you apply these lessons?
What are possible obstacles that could get in the way? How will you overcome them?
What one change can you make that will have the biggest difference to your life?
What do you need to give yourself permission to hope for in 2021?