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Reflecting on the close of the year
Q: What learnings from 2022 will you take into the new year?
The trouble with taking a break, especially with writing a weekly newsletter is that sometimes what was intended to be a one-week pause becomes a month-long one. Between being sick for weeks, having a sick kid for longer than that, and having to ramp up on a new project at work, I let Disco Dialogues take a back seat.
Every week I'd have a nagging thought - Come on don't push this out longer. Write something - keep it short, casual even. But the more days off I took, the harder it took to get back. I also didn't want to share something just for the sake of it. I want what I post here to feel true to you, and hence it has to be born and flow out of what's true for me.
On the night of December 1st, I read the quote below in James Clear's newsletter and thought about how I could use the last month to finish strong. I was inspired and wrote down December goals and shared it with a creative community that I'm a part of and emailed them to my husband and Mitali.
There is one month left in the year. Most people are ready to coast to the finish line, but one good month can make the whole year feel like a success.
What can you do in the next 30 days to build momentum and finish the year on a high note?
I am proud of how this last month has turned out. Not because I hit all the goals - far from it. But because I consistently worked towards them and on the days where I couldn't I found the capacity to be compassionate towards myself. There were many days when my full-time job needed much more attention or poor health got in the way. On those days, my mind didn't immediately jump into negative self-talk. It stayed on the rational side - evaluating the situation from multiple angles, staying neutral. It offered slack or gave a little nudge depending on what was needed.
My deeper self-work this year has been about accepting things that are beyond my control or my liking. 2022 continued to unfold in the way that it started - unexpected, and somewhat difficult. And I’ve continued to show up in the way that I have all year - standing tall, rolling with it, and surrendering with grace albeit after a little bit of mental gymnastics.
I have two more days left and the plan is to make time to do an end-of-year review, something I wrote about this time last year. I’ve found it really helpful to do this over the past several years. It makes me feel good to end the year with a little bit of reflection, a look back on the memories we made, and the things I learned, and helps create space for what’s coming next.
Thanks for reading and hope you are able to end 2022 in the way you most desire - whether that be a big celebration or small, or no celebration at all but some much-needed quiet time.
It’s December 2022 and the year is coming to an end. And yet given all that I have accomplished this year, largely emotionally and spiritually, I am unable to remind myself of the good. Instead of noticing the progress I have made, I am looking forward and not seeing the future I want to make.
I wrote a post about this last year - Look back to move forward - and somehow I have failed to follow the very same advice I gave myself kudos for last year. Last month I wrote about managing my anxiety by not looking back and trying to be present. But in the process of not reflecting on the past, I failed to remind myself of my past positive feelings.
I also failed to follow my advice of “focusing on the now” by jumping ahead and trying to imagine the future. I need to remind myself of the daily practice of being present. Notice a moment of joy. Say a note of thanks. Reach out to one other human being. Laugh out loud. Give yourself a pat on the back. You do these daily and you will notice that your very outlook on life will change.
“Thought exercises are new ways to think about a given circumstance or experience that can help us get out of a stuck or unhelpful way of thinking….if you remain curious, you may find your mind changing, experiencing more methods for how to think positively over time.”
I have been consistently doing some of these daily thought exercises but often forget to do the last one - Love yourself. It seems like simple enough advice. Why do I struggle some days to find the good in what I do? There is so much judgment and criticism in my head that it drowns out the voice that acknowledges the small wins. Or sometimes I think I lack the ability to praise myself. Self-compassion and acknowledging my small accomplishments each day is not something that comes easily to me.
This past week I tried a different approach - more appreciation, less judgment. I reminded myself each evening to recount all that I had accomplished that day - even the smallest tasks like running a load of laundry. And I appreciated myself for what I had done given the circumstances. Changing my outlook on the same situation required me to shift focus and look for the positive outcomes from my choices and actions. Spending an afternoon reading light literary fiction was perhaps the break that my brain needed. I refrained from judging myself for indulging in mindless reading. I can't say I have been successful with this approach every day but the few times that I have practiced, it has brought about a change in my mood.
I hope each one of you takes the time to reflect on the practices that have sustained you this year and to remind yourself of what you want to take into the new year.