This is quite possibly my favorite time of year. Besides the refreshing feeling of putting away Christmas decorations, cleaning the house, and opening up a new calendar, the start of a new year presents the opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, as well as ponder, plan, and dream about the next 12.
I’ve been thinking a lot about 2012 and all the changes that have happened in my life – both externally and internally – and I want to encourage you to do the same.
Whether 2012 was one of the best years of your life or it’s one you’re ready to move on from, I think it’s important that we all take some time to reflect on what happened and how we want to grow from it, especially in order to plan properly for the upcoming year.
What it comes down to for me… is figuring out that one word or phrase that represents the past year (I first learned of this idea from the amazing Susannah Conway). It’s the title or theme that encompasses all your successes, failures, risks, and challenges. It’s the word, or words, that express what you learned from all the good and bad decisions you made. Plus, if you’re a personal growth geek like me, then it’s fun too!
So, the past few weeks I’ve done my best to steal an hour here and there to curl up in a comfortable chair at my favorite Starbucks, pen and paper in hand, and just write. I asked myself tough questions, I dug into where I was this time the previous year and where I am now, and I eventually came to my title for 2012…
To put it simply, 2012 has been a BIG year for me… a big, scary, and exciting year with lots of decisions and lessons to learn from, but more than anything it involved a shift in the way I think and how I want need to live my life.
Some of the specific actions I reflected on that helped define 2012 as the Year of the Great Shift included these experiences and decisions:
I started this blog. Starting this blog was the first step on this journey because I’ve blogged before, never really sharing my writing with the world, but I decided enough was enough and I just wanted to write and share my thoughts and experiences with anyone who would listen. PS – thanks for listening.
I quit my corporate job after nearly 7 years. One of the toughest, yet ultimately best decisions I’ve made in my life.
I attended a conference that connected me with a whole world of like-minded people. That conference was the World Domination Summit, and it was awesome.
I leaped off a bridge. Twice. Yikes!
I started on an intentional journey and began working with a life coach. Best investment I’ve ever made for myself.
I jumped head first into a life of freelance work and self-employment. Still figuring it all out but I’m getting there and it feels damn good.
I worked out consistently a minimum of twice a week the entire year! And I feel stronger than I ever have before in my adult life.
I hosted my first few creative writing workshops. This was a big deal for me – I love to teach and I love to write. The first few were a great learning experience and I’m really looking forward to bigger and better workshops in 2013.
I taught my first webinar. This opportunity was a great example of how serendipitous life can be.
I began taking courses and learning more about website development and graphic design. Which are two things I’ve been interested in forever but never thought I’d be all that great at so I never really tried… until now.
All of these things aren’t necessarily directly related but they unquestionably have one thing in common: they happened because my mindset had shifted.
The thing is, I learned something this year that I can never, ever forget.
My eyes were opened up to a way of thinking, and ultimately living, differently than I ever have before. And I guess when it comes down to why I have this blog and what my “purpose” is here, it’s sharing this new approach to life and my journey with everyone who feels the same way I felt… trapped, confused, bored, anxious, unfocused, lost, helpless, unauthentic, unfulfilled, unconnected, the list goes on.
So, what exactly is this way of thinking or shift in my mindset that defined 2012 for me?
It’s the realization that I have complete and utter control over my life and my happiness.
It’s that I don’t have to fit my personality into a box in order to have a successful career. It’s that I don’t have to climb a ladder toward something I don’t even know if I want. It’s that life doesn’t have to be boring with random spurts of fun; it can all be an adventure. It’s that I don’t have to dread Monday’s and I don’t have to pick a job out of a list, but instead I can create a fulfilling career and lifestyle that encompasses many of my skills and passions.
It’s not just about figuring out how I can make money doing something I love. It’s about this ultimate change in how I view life and the decisions I’m faced with.
It’s deciding to listen to my gut and not letting fear or complacency stop me from embracing an adventure or taking a risk.
So, as you can see, this has been a pretty life-changing year for me. It’s been a long process piecing together new information, small moments, mini-epiphanies, and encouraging conversations with strangers and loved ones in order for this shift to happen inside me. I feel really lucky that I found it in me, and now I have the rest of my life to act on it. Which is why I’m tentatively coining my 2013… the Year of Action. I’ve got the strength now to act on a lot of the ideas, dreams, and goals I have, all thanks to this shift.
So, I ask you… what did 2012 represent for you as a whole? What did you learn? How have you changed? What feeling does 2012 embody for you?
For some, the answer might be immediately obvious. For others, you may need a few days to think about it. But either way, I hope you come back and share your 2012 reflections with me below!
**Side note: I’ve been writing this post over the past week and finalized it last night. Less than an hour later, while reading through my Google reader in bed, I came across this post by Mark Schaefer. He talked about how both Chris Brogan and C.C. Chapman (both of whom I admire and follow), advise all of us to “distill your annual goals into three focused words”. I love this idea and so I’ll be following up this post with my three themes for 2013.