Personally I’m more mulled wine and mince pies, than Aude lang syne, preferring the mayhem of family gatherings over the weight of expectation associated with welcoming in a new year. Festive feasting, over existential angst and extortionate pricing.
Like all times of transition, the ending of one year and the beginning of a new one can evoke strong emotions: anxiety, sadness, excitement, anticipation, fear, even anger and loss. It’s a highly reflective period – we’re making sense of everything we’ve experienced in the preceeding 12 months. Acknowledging achievements, drawing learnings, being thankful for the good in our lives, recognising those that have had a positive impact on us, before turning our thoughts to the future, and setting New Year’s resolutions. Critically assessing our behaviours and examining our values and beliefs in this way is an important part of personal growth.
In education, this process of integrating and synthesizing learning is considered so important that capstone experiences are incorporated into post-graduate programme design. Yet in everyday life, we have nothing (if you discount Jools Holland and prosecco) to help us navigate this challenging period.
So if you are finding yourself feeling unsettled, and it’s got nothing to do with excessive partying, you may simply be in need of increased introspection. A period of quality contemplation to help you close out the old and welcome in the new year. In my experience, a simple way to fill this gap is to use a reflective framework eg. Past – Present – Future. Then working alone or with a “thinking partner” learn from the past, appreciate the present, and start to create a whole new set of life experiences.
I’ve shared below an example of a simple reflective framework. Why don’t you give it a go, and let me know how you get on?
Past – What are you most proud of over the last 12 months? What do you regret you did or didn’t do this year? What could you have changed? What have been the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them? What lessons have you learnt about yourself and others?
How have your thoughts and beliefs enabled you? How have you and your connections and relationships developed?
Present – If you were a superhero, what would be your superpower? What do you appreciate and value about your life right now, your health & wellbeing, your education, your work & career, your finances & home, your community, friends and family?
Future – What do you want to be different next year? How do you want to feel? What would you like to look back on this time next year and say you have achieved? What will you do to make it happen?