I recently had the sad experience of attending the funeral of a longtime family friend. Funerals are always hard, and in my experience even more so when it is an unexpected loss of a young life. But, they are also a time to reflect on life. My brother gave an excellent eulogy that left room for laughter. I hugged his sister tightly, filled with a love that transcended time. I cried. And I smiled as I had the opportunity to see my family and catch up with many people I hadn’t seen in years.
I reflected on a time in my life that I honestly don’t think that much about anymore. I recalled the fun memories. I thought of the embarrassing moments and the ridiculous things I said and did. I marveled at how much has changed. I considered the things that have stayed the same.
And then I moved forward. The life and death of others impacts us. It changes us. It is part of our story. And then life carries on.
Like many of you, I enjoy the promise of a new year. I love to first intentionally use the space between Christmas and January 1st to give myself the freedom to honor my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs. To catch up on things that I want to catch up on. To rest when I want to rest. To enjoy time with people and then when needed, take quiet time to recharge.
I also love to use this time to reflect on the past year. I find this to be a vital step for myself and my athletes to do before setting new goals, and also regularly throughout the training process, as well as after each race. When we head into a new calendar year it allows for curiosity, but also some intentionality. I personally don’t “resolve” to do anything, because I want to stay open to a process that is filled with successes and also some failures.
My reflection includes (but is not limited to) the following questions:
- What worked? How did this add value to my life and to others?
- What didn’t work? How did, or can I, learn from this add value to my life and to others?
- What did I learn? How did I grow?
- How did I honor myself? Where did I spend my time and energy in ways that honors my core values?
- What choices did I make that negatively impacted my life or the lives of others?
- What “should” messages have I believed in the last year? (I “should” do this… I “should” look this way,” etc)
- What am I still celebrating? Still grieving? How can I allow space for both?
- How did I love? What triggered me to be unkind?
- Where do I need to set and uphold better boundaries?
Of course, this is not the only time I reflect. It is a constant part of being human. But, at the end of the year I take some concentrated quiet time to thoughtfully consider each of these for individual aspects of life, and also as a whole. I very carefully try to remain neutral on each topic, rather than fall into judgment or shame. I try to not only focus on numbers, paces, watts, and other outward metrics when it comes to my personal triathlon hobby, or my professional career.
I allow room for laughter and sadness. I allow anger and hurt, but I don’t focus on blame. I recall the fun memories. I think about the embarrassing moments and the ridiculous things I said and did. I marvel at how much has changed. I consider the things that have stayed the same.
(Insert a long pause, with days of letting it all soak in…) THEN, I move on to the million dollar NY questions:
- What do I want to do tomorrow, next week, or through the following year? What do I believe will add value to my life? What changes can I make? How will I stay grounded and embodied while navigating it all?
Don’t just skip to question #10. Reflect on 1-9, or create your own list. Do it in curiosity and with self compassion and kindness. You still don’t need to be fixed, and there are no “shoulds.” You are pretty damn awesome— use this a time to get to know the amazing person you are.
Happy New Year.