Each year, I take the month of November as a taking-stock month. It when I do my super easy end of year ritual.
I look back over the past year, ponder the triumphs and challenges, and set my course for the next year. I know most people wait to do this at the end of December, but I find that by the time the holidays are over, I am basically a deep-fried mushball of oversaturated twitchy nerve endings.
So I like to take advantage of the rich autumnal energy of November, while my mind and heart are only medium-fried, to look back and reflect and map out a rough idea of where I want to head next year.
But first, I have to deal with the comparison-gremlins in my head.
You see, this is the time of year when we start hearing end-of-the-year wrapups from every life coach on the planet.
I have a love-hate with these.
My client made 6 figures her first month in business! I went vegan and did a yoga retreat! We’re pregnant AND we won the lottery #blessed! Oprah called! I made 7 figures and retired my husband!
I have a sick fascination with these posts— I can’t help but read them. But the truth is that they always make me feel just awful.
You see, this year I didn’t buy a house OR make 7 figures, or do ANY yoga whatsoever, and I went UP a jean size not down, and I didn’t get a book deal OR go on Ellen, and blah blah blah blah.
But I think the reason we love the year-end wraps— even when they make us sick with comparisonitis— is because we LOVE to see the whole picture. Mostly we just see close-ups, little blips of peoples’ lives: this perfect latte, that golden moment on the beach, this one moment of triumph or heartbreak. (Our news is like this too, which is why so many of us feel oversaturated but under-informed.)
We long to hear the whole story, to know the behind-the-scenes. We love origin stories about superheroes because we long to hear how someone went from THERE….to here. And so much of that is shrouded in mystery and spin.
So it’s incredibly helpful to pull back and look at our own lives from this perspective so we can see our own full story. In fact, I do it every single year and I noodge my clients into doing it too. It’s a powerful exercise and most of them are usually floored at how much they’ve actually accomplished that they had completely forgotten about.
That’s because most of us only track all the things we STILL HAVE TO DO…. and so no matter how many things we tick off our list, the heaviness of the UNDONE things stays constant. It’s exhausting. And some of those bigger coveted milestones seem to keep receding— a certain number, a certain promotion, a certain deal— so that you can work and work and still not get to that final finish line.
But also, taking thousands of invisible steps is the only way to ever get to that finish line, so it’s just as important— maybe more so— to track all the things you DID do.
Because when you look at them, you just might feel proud. You might feel amazed. You might realize that you have completely forgotten or dismissed the 84,000 brave and important things you DID do.
So right now, real quick, I want you to give yourself a witness.
My easy end of year ritual
Count, on your fingers, five things you DID this past year that you’re proud of. Breathe them in.
And then count, on your other hand, five hard things that you have come through… just in this past year.
Whoah. Even just that???? That’s huge. And that’s only a tiny fraction of everything you’ve already done this year. Look at you, badass. Let yourself feel proud. Let your chest swell. Let yourself feel gratitude…for your own amazing self.
It’s crucial to stop and remember to do this every now and then.
Because when you acknowledge those things, a part of you relaxes and drops her pissy face and says, “Ok THANK YOU for finally acknowledging all the hard shit I DID do instead of always noticing the 12 things I didn’t get done because I was doing 99,000 unforeseen hard-and-exhausting-and-absolutely-necessary things instead.”
This part of you? The one who’s pissed at being unacknowledged? She is the one who gets everything done. It’s good to stop pissing her off by downplaying her accomplishments.
The more you acknowledge what you did complete this year already, the more clearly you will see where you want to head next.
Is your life nudging you in a particular direction?
Is there a big glowing knot of longing inside you?
Have you gotten done the things that mattered to everyone else, but neglected your secret yearnings?
Or did this year take you in a completely unexpected direction that might change everything?
This brings me to the next thing I always do, that I want you to do right now, in a private place (back of a napkin will totally work)–
Make a wish list, secret and true.
This is different than a list of goals, or plans. It’s just a chance for the dreamiest, most optimistic part of you to get to whisper some of HER ideas about what the future might hold. And sometimes? I find that these wishes are a surprisingly accurate map of where my soul wants me to go.
Remember, every change is, at its heart, a declaration of hope in the future. It’s stepping away from a familiar shore believing that something better lies ahead.
So gather your courage. Spend some time bearing witness with yourself this weekend, even if it’s just ten minutes. This is a potent time of year to begin turning yourself toward whatever you want to create next.
It just might be time to declare your own most secret hopes for the future…because make no mistake, you’ve got magic waiting to bloom inside you.