Before we welcome the new year, let’s take stock of the soon-to-be old year. A year ago, as you prepared for 2021, what did you envision? What were you planning? What intentions were made?
Whether 2021 was a year of incredible progress, a year where you never really got started on what you set out to do, or a year somewhere in between, there were lessons along the way. Some of those lessons came from mistakes, and others came from successes. Both can be great teachers, and as students of life, we have the opportunity to take what we learned in 2021 and apply those lessons to 2022. It is another chance to avoid doing what no longer serves us well and to capitalize on what does.
This year is not over yet, so, let’s continue to learn from it and prepare for the upcoming year:
- Take time to reflect on this last year. What challenges did you face? What wins did you celebrate? These challenges and wins provide us with information that we can use to enhance our lives, starting by identifying patterns.
Identify patterns that lead to challenges. When we notice a pattern that contributes to challenges and setbacks, we then can identify the thoughts, feelings, and actions that contributed to them. This awareness can help us develop more effective ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. It is said that when we falter the first time, it is a mistake, but the second time, it is a choice. Every choice we make creates challenges or successes, so, choose wisely.
Identify behaviors that support success. When we pinpoint patterns that create successes, we can implement those strategies to maintain the progress and to reach new heights. Repeating positive patterns consistently reinforces the thoughts, feelings, and actions that are needed for establishing healthier and more effective habits.
What challenges and triumphs did your family and friends face? What were their successes? What struggles did they face? What can you learn from them? When we see someone else succeeding, we can look to them for guidance and motivation, and we can study their positive habits to replicate in our lives. When we watch someone facing adversity, we also can learn how to cope and manage when facing our own challenges.
- Create new habits. If we want to change those habits that do not support our goals, we need to swap them out for ones that do. Consider these examples of common challenges we may encounter:
Procrastination: Instead of putting tasks off until later or waiting until we feel like doing something, take immediate action when something needs to be done. Motivation is impossible to maintain all the time, which is why we have to take steps forward, even when, and especially when, we may not feel like it. Remember the problems that procrastination has caused in the past and imagine how much better it will feel to complete the task in a timely manner.
Tardiness: Being perpetually late causes unnecessary stress and frustration for yourself and for those who are waiting for you, but there are steps to take to be on time. Instead of sleeping until the last possible second, place the alarm on the other side of the room to force yourself to get up and start the day. No more hitting the snooze button! Before going to bed, select the next day’s outfit, prepare your lunch, have your purse/briefcase/backpack ready to go, and allow enough time for possible delays, such as detours and traffic.
Relationships: This is an opportune time to re-evaluate relationships. We may need to let go of relationships that may have run their course, especially ones that are harmful in any way. Choose to connect with people in meaningful ways and who you enjoy spending time with regularly. Commit to doing something nice for another person, such as a loved one, a colleague, a neighbor, or a stranger, each day. Focus on what you like about the people in your life, instead of complaining about them.
Wellness: Our overall health and well-being are essential to whatever we want to be and do. Many times, we overcomplicate wellness, but it really is all about getting back to the basics. Have healthy food on hand for delicious, nutritious meals and snacks. Stay hydrated. Get the right amount of sleep. Incorporate daily physical movement in your routine. Calm your mind with prayer and meditation.
- Monitor progress. Intentions are meaningless without effective thoughts, feelings, and actions to support them. Evaluating what is going well and what needs improving on an ongoing basis is vital to progress. It also is important to remember that change can be challenging, as even positive change can cause resistance. This is about progress, not perfection, so, it is normal to experience setbacks and obstacles along with the forward progress. Use those difficult moments as an opportunity to reset and take the next best step.
- Celebrate successes. When we apply the lessons we have learned from 2021, we can expect some great things to happen in 2022. We need to take time to appreciate, and be proud of, these moments of success. When we feel good about ourselves, it builds motivation and momentum for us to keep going.
Over the course of this year, we have faced some tough times, and we have had some successes, too. Our past is in the past, but when can learn from the good and the not so good, the past can help us have the present and future we desire. Thanks for the lessons, 2021, and let’s see what you’ve got, 2022!
That’s another story . . .
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