Looking Back and Moving Ahead
Pause to reflect at the end of the year.
Posted Dec 18, 2019
Linda: As we approach the end of the year, I find myself doing what I usually do at this time of year, stopping to pause and reflect upon the past twelve months and giving thought to what I have experienced this year. I try to let myself consider the full breadth of my experience and include the low points as well as the high points, the losses as well as the gains, the sorrows and the joys, the accomplishments and the failures—the whole shebang, or as Zorba the Greek says, the “full catastrophe.”
Receiving it all with an open heart allows me to experience a kind of completion in which it’s no longer necessary to dwell upon whatever residual losses I might still be in the grips of, as well as any attachments that may be preventing me from among ahead with openness and receptivity to the experiences awaiting me in the coming year for which I want to be fully open to receiving.
Completion is what I’m after because if I’m not complete with the past, whether it’s something from last February or from this morning, I’m not as present and available to what is showing up on my plate now. I welcome even those shadowy aspects of this past year, the mistakes, disappointments, embarrassing moments, the misjudgments, the problems that I might have caused or those that were beyond my control. I look back to last January and the commitments that I made then to assess how I did with them. Did I fulfill the vision that I had a year ago? If I did, can I acknowledge myself for that? If I didn't, can I forgive myself for not doing so? And either way, is there anything for me to learn from my successes and failures that I can apply to the challenges that may await me this year?
For those goals and intentions that I have completed, I take time to savor a sense of triumph and to acknowledge myself for a job well done. Sometimes I find that I have fallen short of my goals and haven’t fulfilled them all, but whether I have or not, there is always appreciation for whatever I have managed to accomplish and gratitude towards those who have supported me.
Regardless of the outcome of my efforts, I am always reminded of how essential the support of others is to the fulfillment of my goals and of how much I depend upon their input in all of my projects. This awareness leaves me with a sense of appreciation and a desire to reciprocate for all that I receive from so many people in the course of a year in my life. Out of this reminder, I am left feeling great thankfulness and some humility in the realization that in truth there is actually very little, if anything, in my life that I accomplish completely alone. I am always moved to take time to directly thank the people who stand out as important supports to me and I find that doing so feels like a gift to myself.
I feel that this self-reflection is a way of tidying up my life at the end of the year and going into the coming year with a clean house. It’s become an annual ritual that enables me to open up space for whatever is coming and to meet the new year with an attitude that is fresh, open and receptive.
There is no correct way of wrapping up the old year and welcoming the new one. For some, drinking a glass of champagne and shaking a noisemaker does the trick. Others sit alone in silent meditation. And some just hope for the best. Being intentional in regard to what you truly wish to bring forth into your life in the coming year is something that anyone can do and it can take any one of an infinite variety of forms. The process needn’t take more than a few minutes or can include an extended retreat. What really matters isn’t what you do or how much time you take to do it, but rather whether you listen to the words of your heart and respond to them with attention and care. Such a response can literally create miracles.
May we all be blessed with an abundance of gratitude, wisdom, compassion, and love in the coming year.