How You Can Prepare For Your 2018 Part 1: Reflection
Hi bAw family!
The New Year is LITERALLY around the corner. Can you believe it??! I feel like I blinked and 11 months swooshed by. It’s crazy how life can happen to you sometimes which is why I decided to do this post.
Just FYI: this blog post is a tad long but that’s because it’s more of a coaching post which will get you involved. It’s well worth it though I must say so just set aside an hour one of these days to run through it. You’ll be glad that you did.
In brief, this is what this post will help you to tackle:
- Reflecting on yourself – noting your strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents and other qualities that you discovered in 2017. You will learn what these reveal about you.
- Reflecting on unhealthy habits/mind-sets – you will intentionally discover the blind spots that may be preventing you from progressing in life.
- Reflecting on your greatest victories – you will look at the things you achieved (big or small) to help you repeat or build on them going forward.
- Reflecting on God – you will reflect on how you experienced God in 2017 to equip you for the New Year.
As I’ve alluded to already, I’m going to put on my Coaching hat in this post, and hoping it helps just one person. I used to be that person that never planned for anything to be honest. I played victim all too well and at the end of a year, I would just go out and have some fun hoping that the New Year would magically be amazing. That I would finally achieve the things I hoped to in life without actually having to think about or change anything.
And honestly, it was because I didn’t know better. We’re hardly encouraged to be intentional about stepping into a new season of life, and into a new year, within our black communities. December is about playing – eating mounds of food; having party after party; and just really kicking back.
There’s nothing wrong with this at all. We certainly need to take it easy and rest our weary souls after a tough year. But when we set aside a little time to prepare for our new chapter in life, it makes the celebrations all the sweeter. Plus, we get to enter a new year with a clear mind and renewed, directed passion! For your year to be better, you need to plan for it. You wouldn’t travel to a foreign country without doing some form of preparation.
Today I’d like to share a brief exercise for you to do before all the crazy December celebrations come through. The most important step in preparing for a new year, is reflecting on what the current year was all about. You can learn much from it and also see what areas to target in the new season – whether relationships, career, habits, mind-sets, ministries, businesses, school etc.
Go ahead and get yourself a fresh journal or fresh writing pad, and find yourself a quiet spot and invite the Holy Spirit to help you with this exercise. He will point out the truth to some of the questions I will be asking you (John 16:13). You can choose to answer the below questions as they relate to your life generally or to specific parts like relationships/business/emotional health/physical fitness etc.
- Reflecting On Yourself
On your fresh piece of paper, make 5 columns and give them the headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Gifts, Talents and Other. Under each column, write out the things you learnt about yourself in each of these areas – for the “Other” column you can choose an area not mentioned. Who does this reveal you to be?
You may have gone through this year or even your whole life without realizing who you really are. This little exercise is not going to give you the full picture, but it’s a great start. Understanding what you are made up of wakes you up to what you’re able to do and where you need improvement or external assistance. Seeing yourself right (not through foggy glasses), means that you’re better equipped to face the challenges and opportunities that a New Year brings.
This year, I learnt that one of my greatest gifts is the ability God has given me to see people right – to see the potential He has put inside of them that they often overlook. And to encourage them to pursue that relentlessly. One of my weaknesses is lack of discipline and follow-through. If I do not consciously work on tasks, I do not finish what I started. What about you?
- Reflecting On Unhealthy Habits/Mind-sets
What unhealthy habits or mind-sets did you consistently engage in this year and what led to them? On the left-hand side of a new page/paper, list each habit or mind-set and next to each, jot down the things or people that led to them.
It could be habits or attitudes like eating too much junk; believing you have nothing of value to add to anyone; not getting enough rest etc. Unhealthy habits/mind-sets can block your progress in life. Doing this exercise will help you become aware of what to avoid or adjust in the New Year. You will keep repeating what you don’t acknowledge.
This year, one of the worst habits I engaged in was to blame other people for my unhappiness. Whether or not their behaviour was wrong, I was not taking responsibility over my own feelings and well-being. It meant that I was constantly open to other people’s manipulations because I was waiting for them to fix things or to do right. Next year, I need to seek to recognize unhealthy conduct from people and choose to set appropriate boundaries or speak up without sulking endlessly or expecting someone else to change.
- Reflecting On Your Greatest Victories
On the left-hand side of a new page, list your greatest victories in 2017. Maybe you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or you finally got your Driver’s License. Maybe you broke off an unhealthy relationship, or you started to serve in your local church. It doesn’t matter how small or big the milestone, it’s just one that fills you up with pride when you think of it.
Next to each victory item, jot down what you believe led to that specific victory – external sources; your skill/effort; opportunities that you grabbed; an attitude you adopted; people around you etc. Reflecting on your victories will reinforce to your mind that you can achieve your goals, and it will help you see how you can repeat or build on these for 2018.
One of my greatest victories for 2018 was stepping out of my comfort zone and hosting events for women I had never met but that God planted a passion in my heart for. This victory was a result of the help of amazing friends, family and strangers who gave of their time, money and skills to make them a blessing. Going forward, I am encouraged that what God has called me to do, He will fulfil and provide for.
- Reflecting On God
This is probably the most important reflection theme. What did you learn about God this year through the good and terrible circumstances you faced? Do not limit yourself with this step. Let your pen free-flow on your page as the Holy Spirit reveals the truths you experienced about God and His character in 2017.
The most important thing we can do in our life is to see God right. He reveals His character through our experiences in life whether good or bad. This is why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose”. God does something amazing with every experience we go through, if we would just allow Him to show us. Seeing God right through your past experiences, equips you for the new ones you will walk through.
One of the things I learnt about God in 2017 is that He is good even when I don’t feel it or see it (Psalm 145:9; 1 Chronicles 16:34; Nahum 1:7). His intrinsic nature is to allow things to shape up in a way that ultimately benefits me. I have learnt to wait on God rather than throw tantrums when things appear to be going pear-shaped because He always reveals His goodness to me. Going forward, this gives me such confidence in Him as my Father and Sovereign Lord over my life.
Once you are done with your reflections, you will find that you see yourself, life, people and God through different eyes. You are no longer seeing through eyes that have been tainted by society or lies or fears and doubts. You are not seeing through your own desires or wishes. But, through the universal and omnipresent perspective of God who sees where you’ve come from, where you are and where He is taking you.
I hope you found this exercise useful. If you have any questions or would just like to share your experience of it, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get a hold of me for personal coaching sessions if you feel stuck in a rut in your life or you desire healing and to see yourself the way God sees you. My desire is to help you live a more fulfilled and wholesome life as God intended.
Look out for the final instalment of posts for this year which will help you plan forward for the New Year. Thanks for reading as always!