Acknowledging how far we've come!
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
It snowed in Lyon last week, huge beautiful flakes, and it suddenly dawned on me that winter is now well and truly here! Christmas decorations are out in the shops, Christmas movies are starting to appear on Netflix and now that the year’s end is in sight I can’t help but think ahead to our family New Year celebrations and that inevitable question that my Mum will ask me when the clock strikes midnight: “so what’s your goal for 2020?”.
If it's ok with you Mum I would like to suggest that before looking forward to 2020 that we look back over 2019 first and take the time to acknowledge some of the fabulous (or even not so fabulous!) things that have happened over the last year?
I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m a planner, a forward thinker, a dreamer, I love to think ahead and imagine what next year might look like, what exciting challenges lie ahead but I’ve learnt that stopping for a minute to take a step back and take a look at all that I’ve accomplished THIS year can have it’s benefits too.
I recently ran a 25km trail with my cousin along the coast in Portugal (beautiful!). As we ran we were chatting about one of her friends who tends to get stuck in his head (like so many of us do) and who was telling my cousin about feeling the constant pressure that we put on ourselves to always do better or more. My cousin told me that her friend was often lost in his thoughts and confused about his options in life but that he’d found a great way to remind himself that however much he feels like he’s always “stuck” he’s actually always moving forward. Indeed it seems that this friend of my cousin has found a way to remind himself of the importance of taking the time not only to look ahead, to have a plan and be ambitious but also and most importantly to stop and take a look at how far he’s come, to acknowledge everything he’s achieved.
So what was his magic trick?
The story goes that he took the time to sit down in front of his computer and write down in an email everything that was going on in his life, his worries, his fears, his questions, his failures & his successes and how they affected him. He then sent that email to himself on a delayed delivery basis, sending the email to his future self, three months, a year or even 10 years down the line. In this way when he opened the email down the line he was able to acknowledge how far he’d come because even though some underlying fears or concerns popped up frequently most of the things that seemed dramatically important to him 3 months or a year ago had been solved and he had moved on from them.
My cousin was telling me how her friend (who had just turned 30) had just received an email from his 20 year old self and was sharing with her just how silly some of his fears and questions seemed and how amazing it was to see how far he’d come.
So what does this teach us? The learning isn’t so much in what’s changed between the then and the now but in the understanding and the knowing that things do evolve, that things have a way or sorting themselves out, that we are natural fighters and that we will find ways to solve our problems. Ultimately, what does this mean? I’d say first and foremost that we can relax a little bit more in the present moment and trust me I’m talking to myself more than anyone else here! Wanting to know the answer to all of our questions right now just isn’t an option but those questions will always be there so like someone once said “We can’t control the waves but we can learn to surf”.
One of the ways we can learn to surf is like anything we learn in life, taking the time to stop and check-in, acknowledging how far we’ve come and not just looking at what is left to be done. This can mean acknowledging things that haven’t gone so well too but simply putting the focus on what we learnt from that situation and how we moved on from it.
Not unlike my Mum (hmmm should I be worried?) every year my partner asks us on New Year’s eve which word we would like to choose to define the year ahead. She then writes them all down and checks back in with us at the end of the year asking if we feel we’ve respected that word throughout the year.
For 2019 I chose “vivre” (to live!) and at times I feel I’ve been true to that but at others I’ve been too caught up in worrying about what I’ve not done rather than focusing on what I have done and more importantly what I’m doing right now (sitting in Heathrow airport waiting to catch a flight!). The good news is that even if winter is here the end of the year is still over 5 weeks away so I have lots of time to keep “living” and I’m hoping that when I’m asked to choose a new word for 2020 I’ll be allowed to carry over “living” too along side my new word ;-)
So yes we can always do more, and sometimes we could probably do better but I’d like to invite you all to try taking the time today to sit back and reflect on what you HAVE achieved so far this year and see how that makes you feel :) :)