Tools to Complete the Year
Every year at this time I engage my clients in a reflective process to bring Honorable Closure to the year. We use a series of questions, some of which I share below, that generates a rich and useful conversation. The questions employ gratitude and curiosity to acknowledge all that is working without discounting our hardships.
Traditional cultures have long acknowledged the value of bringing Honorable Closure to personal and professional endings, believing it paves the way for greater blessings going forward. Why? Reflecting upon and articulating our experience illuminates the learning’s so we can integrate them. Once we ‘get’ the lesson it is easier to let go of whatever no longer serves us (expectations, beliefs, grudges, etc.) freeing us to be present and awake to life right here, right now. We can then move into the next year, unencumbered by unfinished business.
When they take time to reflect, most clients are astounded at how far they have progressed in matters of work, health, family, finance, etc. As a culture, our attention is trained on the future and what is left to do. This exercise allows us to see just how much work has been done, how resilient we are, where we played it safe, and where attention needs to be re-directed or narrowed to finish well. Why not give yourself the gift of acknowledging how far you have come and the actions and support that allowed you to get to this point?
To that end, I invite you to contemplate both the challenges and blessings that came your way over the past twelve months. Set aside 30-60 minutes, review the questions below, and write down your answers. The exercise is amplified if you do this with someone you trust and discuss your responses. Note: it can help to review your calendar before doing this, because it is easy to forget all that happened. (One client forgot she had flown to China to save a significant client relationship until she saw it on her calendar. “Oh yeah, that happened way back in February.”)
- What was your biggest triumph this year? Go ahead, brag and be proud.
- What was your biggest challenge and what lesson did you learn from it?
- What unexpected gifts (people, opportunities) showed up?
- Who and what are you grateful for?
- What risks did you take?
- Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is self-forgiveness needed? (“Therefore dark past, I am about to do it. I am about to forgive you for everything.” – Mary Oliver)
- Is there anything you need to say or do to be complete for the year?
Without rushing, take in your answers, heed the lessons, accept what is useful and act on anything incomplete. Then bow to the year and celebrate. What’s done is done.
Paving the way for 2016
Once you have brought Honorable Closure to the passing year, it’s time to look ahead:
- What 3 things are you most grateful for right now?
- What would you be most happy about completing (personally & professionally)?
- What risks are you willing to take in the coming year?
- What are you looking forward to learning?
- What is one undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in the new year?
- Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving or serving?
- What one word or phrase would you like to have as your year-long theme?
John O’Donahue speaks about living “like a river flows, carried by the surprise of it’s own unfolding.” My hope is that you can live the next year like that, expecting success and be pleasantly surprised as your plans unfold. Hello, 2016!