A year in review – time for reflection

At this time of year, it is useful to take some time to reflect on the year just past, a process which can help us to prepare for the year ahead.  This blog is dedicated to doing just that and taking time for reflection on the key themes that have emerged for me from the conversations I have had with my clients this year.   I see many people around me wanting to reflect, to pause, to take a moment to “smell the roses”. As the year draws to a close, I am noticing there is so much to be learned to take forward into 2023.  I wonder what your key themes are, what you are taking with you into 2023, and what you want to let go of before the year ends.

1. Health

Making the most of every day is something I have always been aware of, and yet practising this mindset doesn’t always come easily. This year I am reminded that health cannot be taken for granted – it is something to be cherished in good times and yearned for in bad times. Those close to us can fall ill and as we look to support them in their ill health, it questions us about our own good health. It has taught me always to be compassionate when faced with others’ health issues and to not start sentences with “at least you can be lucky for . . . .” as that is not useful. What seems to be useful is to provide a space just to listen and be with someone in the face of life-changing illnesses and to support them whilst they navigate through it and find a new normal. 

2. Job Losses

This year has been uncertain, and changes in company structures have seen many job losses or imposed role changes, both of which are enforced rather than chosen by the individual. 

I am struck by the sense of resilience it takes to keep going when the job search reaches a standstill. What it takes to put yourself out there when interview after interview doesn’t go your way. This is true resilience. It seems to take a lot of digging deep and sitting with uncomfortable feelings around our self-worth. It is also challenging to get up every day and keep job searching. I wonder what humility can be developed in these moments about ourselves and how we can connect more deeply to those around us who are faced with these situations too. Putting a brave face on things can be one strategy and yet I notice that finding moments and people that you can be totally real with to deal with those feelings is so useful. 

3. Simplifying

I have seen this as a common theme in coaching sessions – how can I simplify the 24 hours that are given to me every day? We are living in a world full of busyness and a culture of being on 24/7. This year has seen me simplifying – small changes have made a big difference. My examples include: 

  • Batch cooking so there is a steady flow of tasty food ready and waiting. 
  • Focusing on exercise by choosing classes that I find fun and don’t feel like a chore. 
  • Prioritising the simplicity of a good night’s sleep.
  • Not feeling the need to go to everything I am invited to.
  • Blocking out regular times in the diary for self-care and admin.
  • Walking every day. 

I have noticed that people I work with have their own list of things they are simplifying. I feel that I can only simplify if I continue to be aware of it in everything I do and take on. 

4. Connection

I am personally noticing how important connection is to me and those I work with. This connection has been challenged this year through Covid times and even physically being able to go to our places of work, for example, due to train strikes. I was discussing connection recently with a group of leaders and I noticed that for some, this meant being face-to-face together, whilst for others, they valued the sense of connection from being online together.

I am struck by what does connection really mean? Perhaps it is a physical presence, I wonder, though, if it is much more about somebody else seeing who you really are. That feeling of belonging, of someone understanding us and wanting to know about us – not just about the work but about the person. Being there to be listened to. Sharing a moment together about something important to us. For me, I reflect on this year, and some of my greatest moments of connection have come when I have shared some pretty gritty stuff that might have been going on for me. I was recently on a programme where I shared that someone close to me is very poorly. I chose to share this in my introduction rather than a formal work introduction. I felt better for getting it out there with a group of people I had only just met, and I do believe it connected us more quickly than if I had not shared it. I wonder how much more connected we could all be if we were more open more quickly in a safe space, a listening space?

5. Compassion

It often feels easier to be compassionate and understanding to others and yet when it comes to ourselves, we seem to set very high standards of behaviour and performance. Whilst high standards are useful, they can become an issue for us when the standards are not reachable. I notice that many of us want to recalibrate our expectations of ourselves and learn to more easily forgive the parts of ourselves that don’t meet these expectations. In coaching, this has been a real theme this year. This might look like being our own best friend or gaining a sense of perspective about ourselves, bringing our strengths to the forefront in addition to areas for development. (I notice most of us focus so much more on the mistakes or developmental feedback than we do on our successes) As this year draws to a close, I am struck by our desire as human beings to continually progress, and I wonder if part of our individual progression is getting used to being kind and compassionate to ourselves more often.

In Summary

I wonder what has resonated for you? What are your own reflections on these topics, and what would you add as your key themes for 2022? If you would like to see how coaching can give you some time and space for reflection to help you plan for the year ahead, please get in touch to arrange your no-obligation discovery call.

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