Published: 29th December 2020
A worthwhile seasonal exercise
All too soon the year draws to a close. I am sure many will be glad to see the end of the year that marked a major milestone of disruption through Coronavirus; hoping that the coming year will bring back some order, safer movement and new opportunities.
Looking at the holly it reminds me of winter, and especially Christmas. The foliage is used in many types of decorations and does look all the more seasonal when the berries are plentiful, and bright red. It is a reminder that it has symbolism due to the thorns on the leaves of the crown for Christ, the red berries for the blood that was shed. Whether one has a Christian faith or not it is still a spectacular show. I am sure that the bite of winter will make the birds eat the berries, and soon they will be gone.
The holly reminds me the year is closing, bringing hope for the year ahead, for a year of opportunity. This coming year will also be the start of a new decade.
I take the opportunity at the end of each year to work through a series of paper-based exercises. These are exercises I share with my clients too. The exercises have been developed over many years of personal experimentation - the purpose is to end the year well, and start to position ourselves for the new year ahead. The focus is on the year that is drawing to a close. All too frequently the race to the Christmas holiday robs us of the time to just stop, if only for a short while. There will usually be some point over the festive holiday, or soon after, when you can find time to stop.
One of the exercises is to take a journal, notebook, or piece of paper and write down all of the positive things that happened to you during the year. It is so easy to moan about all that has not gone well, not been possible, not been pleasant. This exercise ignores those and encourages us to look at the good.
The way I do this is to sit and think for a few moments and start writing down things that come to mind. That captures the obvious. I then take my diary and journal and look right back to January and see what I have been up to: where I have been, who I have seen, what appointments and commitments I placed in my diary. There are always many things I had forgotten. I may then look at the photographs I have taken – this is so much easier than it used to be; many pictures are now on our phones and easy to see, so a whizz through those may surfaces more things that make me smile and remember. This is just a few ideas to get you started. There will be other places that you can look to remind yourself of things that have happened, people you have met, activities undertaken, new studies started or completed.
Once you have a list, just look at the things that you have achieved, even, or because this year has had so many challenges. Now simply take a few moments and acknowledge what an amazing person you are – then celebrate in some way to mark the occasion; this is not meant to be a big celebration party, just something that marks the things you feel proud about. It can be as simple as a small treat by our self, or a small item that has meaning to be treasured.
As this is the end of a decade too, perhaps you may want to extend this exercise and look back over the 10 years - comparing what you have achieved over the years. Now that will take longer and will be a fascinating exercise I can assure you.
Hopefully with the glow of your achievements in the past year (or decade) you may well be enthusiastic to start thinking about what you want to achieve over the coming year…and even decade.
I also have a series of exercise on how to focus and create a bright year ahead. For now, I would encourage you to undertake the exercise above - it will help you end your year on a positive note.
I am sure when I pass this holly again the berries will have been eaten by the birds, so I will slow and reflect on the achievements I listed down, and celebrated. The clusters of berries are, perhaps, my bigger achievements, the other berries the smaller and no less important achievements. I may well also think about the things I will aim to achieve before I see the berries again next Christmas.
You will write down your achievements won’t you, and celebrate what you have achieved? I can assure you even in the darkest of years there is something that shone bright.
My best wishes,