[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Every year around this time I grab my favorite brand of tea (crème caramel rooibos, if you’re wondering), a little snack, and I cozy up in my PJs, with my brand new 2020 planner and my favorite pen, and I snuggle into my couch for a time of deep reflection, planning, and dreaming for the new year.
It’s one of my absolute favorite things.
To have the opportunity to look back on the past year with unfiltered, and totally objective eyes, can be such a peaceful experience. To look at it all without judgment and instead of beating myself up about what I didn’t get to, I just say, “You know what, we’re here. It is what it is. Now how’d I get here?”, and take it all in (including the good stuff, which we so often forget about in reflecting!)—it’s just one of the best experiences.
I believe doing this can be one of the best ways to move forward, and make the most of my career in the next year, and I believe the same for anyone reading this. The experience works no matter who you are and where you’re at in your career—it’s simply about reflecting, and the way you do it.
Here’s how I go about it, and how it’s completely changed my perspective and productivity. I remind myself…
1. Last year was just the beginning
No matter where you are in your career, it’s important to know that this past year was just the beginning. Even if you’ve been at this for 10 years, this is still just the beginning.
Whatever you’ve experienced—fear, joy, excitement, apprehension—it’s all part of this life-long story that you’re living, and this, my friend, is where it starts, not where it ends.
Here’s what I mean by that: we all have goals and dreams and rarely do we achieve all of them exactly when we want to achieve them. It’s just what happens—we get excited, we make big plans, we don’t think about the realities and timelines we attach to them, and then all of a sudden it’s the end of another year and we’re beating ourselves up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way.
Maybe you didn’t make all your goals this year—that doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you might as well give up. It just means the timeline was a little off, and instead of this being the end of that adventure, it’s simply the beginning. It means you have a chance to pick it all back up and go at it again with all the perspective and wisdom and experience that you didn’t have when you tried it last time.
It’s just the beginning my friend. There’s a lot still left to discover.
2. Next year is everything you want it to be
I mean it—the next year of your life can be absolutely anything you want it to be. And if you’re shaking your head thinking, “Angela, you’re crazy. I have rent to pay. Groceries to buy. Sweet treats to consume. I can’t just up and ditch my responsibilities to pursue my dreams!” I would say, “I agree with you. You’re right. But this year can still be everything you want it to be.”
And here’s why: pursuing your dreams doesn’t mean abandoning your responsibilities, it means having better time management and learning to prioritize. It means getting crystal clear on what you want and creating a plan (and then following that plan) for how to go after it. You have to put action behind the things you want, they don’t just happen because you want them but, that action is driven by our deepest desires.
And I have to tell you, without sounding like I’ve lost my mind, I really do believe we attract what we’re ready for. I don’t even mean that in some mystical, magical way; I mean literally that when we aren’t ready for things, we avoid them. We don’t make the plans. We don’t pick up the phone. We don’t play the show. We don’t go to the networking event.
When we’re ready, we go after it. We stay up until midnight, we wake up at 5am, we do the thing that scares us.
If you’re not at that phase, that’s OK. Truly. We all go through different phases and each one (I believe) is totally necessary to the process. So if you’re still a little nervous, still not quite ready to chase things with such fire, it’s OK. But just know that whatever you want next year to be, it’ll be. If you want it to be full of new adventures, and opportunities, I know you’ll make that happen. If you want it to be slow and steady and full of learning and getting clearer on your path, I know it will be that.
3. You Did Some Pretty Cool Things
You know, when it comes down to it, you really did do some pretty cool things this year. We have this tendency to be incredibly hard on ourselves, only remembering the things we think we didn’t do well or didn’t do at all. In the process, we forget every good thing we’ve done, every nice word someone said about us, and every person that’s supported us along the way.
It’s a terrible habit we’re all guilty of.
But it’s time to break that.
You’ve done a lot of cool things this year and I bet if you take a second to reflect, or even ask a friend what they remember as the highlight of your year, you’re going to remember that too.
Moving forward into a productive, prosperous 2020 isn’t just about learning from what didn’t’ work in 2019, it’s also about learning, acknowledging, and truly appreciating what did do. You have to allow yourself to be happy and truly soak it all in if you really want to thrive.
Happy (almost) 2020, and remember, this year—it’s going to be exactly what you want it to be.
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