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Our lives consist of cycles within cycles.
We’ve got our own lives. Then there are the lives of the people around us with whom we overlap—our families, coworkers, our communities. There are national cycles like politics. And further out, there are global cycles like the global pandemic and the climate crisis.
Every day, we live these cycles within cycles. It’s a bit like trying to ride a bicycle uphill in a hurricane, in an earthquake. There’s a lot going on. And it’s intense.
Whatever we’ve accomplished has been hard-won, and we certainly don’t want to backslide.
I guess that’s why the phrase, “Put a stake in the ground,” keeps coming to me as we approach the end of the year. We don’t want to redo anything we’ve already worked so hard to achieve. That goes for business accomplishments as well as personal successes.
We’ve climbed the mountain. Now, let’s plant the flag!
It’s time to declare: This is what I’ve done. This is where I am. This is how far I’ve come. And there’s no going back—only forward.
But it’s not that easy to sum up what we’ve accomplished over the course of a year. Life moves quickly. We climb one hill, then we’re on to the next.
To make that reflection a little easier, I came up with five areas to explore:
In each area, there are questions to spark our thoughts.
Carving out a little space to journal is great. Turn off screens, light a candle, put on some music. Or, maybe, it’s just taking a moment now to reflect. Whichever approach you choose, naming what we’ve done reminds us of who we are and what we’re capable of. And that’s certainly worthy of our time.
Anchoring those experiences gives us confidence that we can handle whatever comes our way next and reminds us of the tools we have to tackle it.
Ready? Here they are:
1. Challenges. Think about the personal challenges you’ve faced. Think about the qualities you drew on to meet those challenges. Whether the challenge is over or not, acknowledge yourself for having the courage to stand in it.
2. Losses. What losses have you experienced? Which people? Dreams? Experiences? Security? What have you drawn on to get through those losses? How have they made you a better person?
3. Contributions. Think about the ways in which you’ve contributed to the people in your life, to your community. Whom have you been there for? Whom have you helped? Supported? Listened to? What gifts have you shared?
4. Successes. What successes have you had this year, personally? What victories? What have you overcome? Accomplished? What goals did you achieve? What victories in the face of adversity?
5. Gifts. What gifts have you received this year? Think about things you’ve received, things that have been done for you, people who have been there for you. When things got difficult, who came through for you?
Challenges, losses, contributions, successes, and gifts are all part of our daily lives that, when combined, add up to our year.
One of the themes I got for 2021 was: you’re stronger than you think.
It’s been a challenging year because it’s not been a “normal” one. We’ve been faced with new experiences and have had to recalibrate and adapt. That takes guts, determination, strength, and will.
Cycles within cycles.
It’s been a heck of a year, and if you’re still standing, you’ve accomplished a lot. Now, put a stake in the ground. Wrap it up with a bow. It’s done!
And from here? Onward.
Let the past be the past. The future will reveal itself in time. For now, be here. Be present. Be alive. Be joyous. And celebrate a year well-done.