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If you were writing "your last column for 2018", what would you write? asks Jan Aitken.
The final column of the year is always a bit tricky to write. It's one of "those" columns that feels like it "should" really convey something pithy and life changing or so utterly profound that, as readers, you rock back in your chair and exclaim that from now on things will never be the same again - they'll be better, more fulfilling, your life will turn around etc.
No pressure then, though I fear I might have set the bar a bit high.
It occurred to me that the last column for the year might need to be a bit different for each of us. No "one column fits all" here. Thinking about that should keep me occupied for a while. As I pondered that thought I realised I don't need to write the column ... you do! Why haven't I thought of this before?
You see, if you were writing "your last column for 2018", what would you write?
What would you want to say about 2018? About what you achieved, about what got left undone? What insights did you gain? What are you most proud of? There are so many questions!
Where do you start? I can see it could be a bit overwhelming for some while others will be rearing to go.
Perhaps it might be helpful for me to give you a little guidance, just to get you started.
WHY REFLECT ON YOUR YEAR?
It's easy to get to the end of a year and wonder what you've done. Often you forget your achievements as you box on through life. Stopping to reflect can be a real boost when you take a look at what you did do, where you went, who you met, what you learnt. It's affirming, fun and, hopefully, insightful.
We should be looking at where we're heading regularly throughout the year as it allows us to see if we're heading in the right direction rather than suddenly realising we've ended up somewhere else, far from our planned destination! Checking in allows us to make "course corrections" earlier and stay on track.
Reflecting and making changes gives us some control over our lives and it's handy to help us figure out what's working and what's not. In short, reflection provides us with useful information.
WHAT AREAS OF MY LIFE SHOULD I LOOK AT?
Firstly, there are no "shoulds". What areas do you want to look at? Thinking about what you want to be different next year is a great place to start.
You can take a look at any area of your life - personal, professional, emotional, spiritual, physical, finances, career, health, diet and exercise, work, home, relationships, fun, values etc.
If you're not reviewing specific goals set at the beginning of the year, then take a look at the Wheel of Life and use that to get you thinking.
HOW TO GO ABOUT IT
If you had specific goals for 2018, did you meet them? What went well and what didn't? If it's still important, do you need to tweak anything to help you meet it next year? What action do you need to take to get your goals met next year? If you met it, what's next?
Mark where you are on each spoke and think about what you'd want to be different come the end of 2019.
You can do the above by writing a letter to yourself, making a journal, organising your thoughts in checklists, creating a vision board, or mind map, chatting with a close friend, making a recording of your thoughts, drawing stick figures - it really doesn't matter, it just has to be meaningful to you. Ideas as to how to reflect are limited only by your imagination. It can be as formal or informal as you like.
Gathering information is a bit pointless if we don't use it. Use what you discover to set yourself up for a stellar year next year. Change what needs changed and repeat what worked.
Now that I don't have a column to write, I'll make a cup of tea, put my feet up and eat another fruit mince pie. Excellent! You can get on with writing your own column!
Fit for Life Coaching hopes you have a happy and safe Christmas, festive season, holiday period - however you like to define it. If you are taking a break, may it be everything you want it to be.
I look forward to catching up with you in the new year ... oh, I'd better start thinking about that column ...
Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.
For more go to fitforlifecoaches.co.nz