How To Appreciate Your Year | 2016 Wrap-Up + Free Year End Reflections Sheet
How was your year?
Writing a year-end reflection can be daunting. Sometimes there's that little hunch saying we didn’t do so well, or that nothing truly significant happened in our careers or lives at large the past twelve months. Reflecting on the year however isn’t a reason to beat ourselves up should we find we made more misses than hits. It is all about meeting ourselves exactly where we are and working on how we can grow from there.
It is true that reflections are hard, but only because it opens the way to understanding your present situation better — and clarity is necessary if growth is part of the agenda. This is why even the most prolific people continue to do year-end reviews. It’s irrelevant of life status. We do it because at the end of the day, evolution is the point of us.
Also, you don’t have to do it alone. We can work on this arm in arm, and even keep it simple. There are just 3 questions I want you to ask yourself about your (creative) journey so far. I reckon these questions will help you look at your year with more appreciation, and refine your foresight as you work on your 2017 agenda. For each question, I’ll be sharing my own insights to serve as your guide you in answering them. Don’t forget to download the free worksheet at the end of this post.
This will be a bit of a long read so I recommend that you proceed with a warm cup of chai close-by. 🍵
Question 1: What’s been the hardest?
What's been your biggest pain point this year? What’s been the most impossible to overcome? What's obstructed you in your creative pursuits? There's a chance that these roadblocks have also been keeping you from enjoying your life to the fullest so I urge you to name them.
My biggest creative struggle this year was finding solace in my own uniqueness as a teacher of ideas. I wasn't sure about what I should be sharing and I often had to verge upon others’ styles and content. This only really made me feel sad and a sham. I felt pressured to talk about making money because that seems to be a sought-after topic in the industry. The truth is, talking about money — though important — isn’t something I want to focus on. At least not yet. What feels true for me at this point is helping others find beauty and meaning in their lives. It's cheesy, but I believe true abundance can’t happen if there is a lack of appreciation for the things you now have, and the imagination and purpose to turn it into something others might need. I’ve had many readers tell me that they want to start making a living through their art, but I am constantly learning that there’s so much alignment, re-alignment and personal development one needs to go through initially in order to do creative work that resonates.
For the longest time I have questioned myself of the helpfulness of something others would deem so abstract. But doubting my works has only kept me from launching my projects sooner. I intend to feel a lot more unapologetic about my vision in the coming year and I’m grateful to have started to overcome that by finding a strategy on how to create a rock-solid Why that keeps me from flaking out on my goals and helps with making my art more useful to others. *If you’re joining me on my new e-course Project You I’ll be sharing to you this amazing framework.
Question 2: What felt like success?
This year, I realized with more faith that the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to determine what success looks like to you. Better yet, what kind of work feels like making art for you? It doesn’t have to be any of the traditional arts. The determinant would be the extra effort you willingly put into it and the joy it repays you. Don’t just think about what you want to do. Figure out what it is you want to do beautifully. What are you willing to nurture? Looking back on your year, what kind of work made you feel most alive and committed to the process? Where did your head, heart and hand feel most involved? What sort of endeavour did you find yourself treating with more kindness and patience? It's worth reiterating:
Don’t just think about what you want to do. Figure out what it is you want to do beautifully. [Tweet it]
Anything that doesn’t yield grace, intention and delight is probably worth relinquishing. This is not to say that it shouldn’t feel like hard work. Instead, it implies that you do work that feels like it’s worth the time and trouble for you.
Reviewing my year, I noticed that I would feel accomplished and truly elated whenever I get to create heartening content and experiences for other people. It's always an honor to make others “feel something”, as I would often receive as feedback from those I teach. As the saying goes, “You can’t change people. You can only inspire them.” Ultimate success for me is rousing a sense of aliveness in another person. If I have reminded even just one person to live authentically and was able to move them to max out their full creative potential, I know I have lived well. And this is what I’m committing to more devotedly than ever. So expect more beautiful experiences from The Mad Muse and company this 2017.
If I can stop one heart
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
- Emily Dickinson
Question 3: What's been the most life-saving lesson you learned?
What have you learned this year that somehow made you feel more equipped as a creator? What are you now grateful for knowing? Which piece of wisdom you obtained feels like an additional superpower?
The one gem of a lesson I learned this year that I will forever keep with me for the rest of my days, is this: In order to truly thrive as a creator, I must strive to take good care of myself.
There are two sides to working for your Higher Self: 1) You are your own boss, and 2) you are your own employee, AND you ought to be the best employee you’ve ever had. You must do everything you can to keep this employee at 100% — and that means putting your health and well-being on top of your list. Getting enough rest, remembering to do more breathing exercises, spending enough time with the family, surrounding myself with people who get it, and stopping to smell the flowers used to be things that get saved for later — or when I’m a “billionaire” — but now I’m unable to produce work that inspires me without making all these part of my creative process.
I don’t want to have to wait to become materially affluent to start doing things that keep me alive. Why can’t I "make a difference" at the very same time my nephew is teaching me Minecraft? Why can’t I work on a proposal with my feet sometimes buried in the sand? Why can’t I write poetry in between drafting marketing strategies? Who's to say we can't have it all? And what makes them think we can't do it now?