December 20th 2018
In a world obsessed with overwhelm and taking in and taking on so much, slowing down is probably the greatest medicine you can give yourself and others.
Oh hi! You reading this! Yes, YOU. It’s December 2018 which means you’ve reached the end of the year. Wow. Look at you—showing up to life day in and day out over the last twelve months (not to mention every single day of all the years of your life before). Excuse me while I cue the confetti cannons and finish signing the permit to shut down the street for your parade. We’ve got a LOT to celebrate.
Sound ridiculous? Maybe it is. But only just a little. Maybe it is a little crazy to throw a parade for yourself (I’ve seen it done though) to commemorate reaching the end of the year. Or is it?
Too many people I know let the year end get the best of them. They become the overly stressed and anxious versions of themselves, focused on everyone around them and all that needs to be done. Go into any shopping mall on a weekend in December and you’ll see what I mean. When the mind is preoccupied with productivity, something takes a hit. And usually, it’s the most important thing that’s compromised. Themselves.
Between the deadlines, schedules, and plans; they forget to acknowledge and celebrate themselves for all that they’ve done and who they are. It wreaks havoc and induces stress on everyone involved. Sound familiar?
I get it. Arriving at the end of the year can bring up a medley of thoughts and emotions.
For one person, it can feel like time is running out. The clock is ticking, timelines are overlapping, and there’s not enough time to finish everything that needs to get done.
For another, the year end is a massive sigh of a relief. Big exhale. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiinallly. December could not have come any faster. Enough with 2018, let’s get on with the new year already!
And for some souls out there, it’s a time of reflection, celebration and excitement! The past year presented incredible moments of growth. Everything that happened was necessary, if not exactly what was needed to level up in life. It’s the perfect time to reflect on all the small and big wins, celebrate the person you’ve become, and set intentions for the new year. We deserve to celebrate, helllllll yes! (maybe celebrating yourself doesn’t seem so far-fetched after all).
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am and have been all of those people. I’ll call them overwhelmed, underwhelmed, and content, respectively. Let me be clear, there’s no right or wrong way to approach or live your life. Wherever you’re at is where you are at.
But from experience, I can tell you that overwhelmed and underwhelmed don’t feel so good. Content, on the other hand—feels amazing.
And so I try to live in the world of contentment as often as I can. Through accepting everything that is, letting go of what doesn’t serve me, and acknowledging how far I’ve come—it’s been a pivotal game changer for my health in mind, body, and soul. It just feels better.
With all the year end hustle and bustle that is so easy to fall into, what if we were a bit rebellious and went against the grain? What if we paused and did the opposite? Oh, I’m tickled!
What if we took a moment to s l o o o o o o o o o w down? And took a moment or two to get present with ourselves and saw this as a potent time?
Instead of dreading or resisting or wishing to skip past the new year (or worst, feeling ho-hum and completely apathetic about it all), what if we gave ourselves the gift of winding down and becoming present with ourselves?
Big breath in.
Bigger breath out.
Remember, nothing in nature blooms all year round. And you, my friend came from nature. Be mighty patient with yourself. In a world obsessed with overwhelm and taking in and taking on so much, slowing down is probably the greatest medicine you can give yourself and others.
Sometimes we gotta wind down to rev up.
So if you’re still with me, pour yourself a hefty mug of tea (my favorite lately has been from Bon Temps, an awesome brand that invests in women), and curl up in a cozy blanket.
Here are the three things I’m doing to wind down the year and feel ready for the new year.
1. Scrap Your To-Do List
You read that right. Did my Type A, left-brained dominant people just have a heart palpitation?
The notion of a to-do list is noble—putting things on a to-do list frees your mind and there’s something viscerally satisfying about giving a place for your thoughts and crossing them off.
But here’s the clincher, before tackling your to-do list and getting ready to cross off those items with a black sharpie, it’s important to question what is worth doing first. If you’re looking at your to-do list (or accessing it in your mind right now) and feel overwhelmed. You’re not alone.
Unless reviewed and revised regularly, to-do lists can be a hairy place filled with tasks we don’t actually care about. There are times we’ve promised our past selves we’ll do something but that promise no longer serves our present-day selves. Rather than being a tool to help us get to where we need to be, the to-do list can hold us back from doing the things that matter.
Do not confuse having a to-do list and crossing things off with productivity. Do not confuse movement for progress. Be honest with yourself. Is your to-do list propelling you forward or holding you back? Review and readjust often!
It’s not so much about scrapping your to-do list completely and throwing caution to the wind. No, friend! It’s more about re-evaluating what’s taking up precious real estate on that list in the first place, prioritizing, and then re-focusing your time, energy, and attention to propel you towards where we want to go.
A rad tool I love using to prioritize is the Eisenhower Matrix. The matrix uses a quadrant that categorizes tasks by importance and urgency. The four categories are:
- Important + Urgent
- Important + Not Urgent
- Not Important + Urgent
- Not Important + Not Urgent
Here’s an example of what mine looks like:
By laying it all out in front of me, I can now see what’s worth doing and when to do it! When I know where to focus my mind, I gain more time and energy!
Win win win! Let your to-do list empower you, not have power over you.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”
2. Let Go of What Isn’t Serving You
Ohhhh truth bomb right there! Lao Tzu had it right!
When we let go of the thoughts, things, projects, ideas, heck—even people who aren’t bringing us closer to our goals (keep in mind, our goals can change too!), we create a space that wasn’t there before. This space that was once occupied by past promises and old dreams is now alchemized into a place to connect with ourselves. When we let go of the noise and come back to our true selves, inner wisdom arises and the space between where we are and where we want to go doesn’t seem all that far.
It’s important to reflect + reassess + recalibrate often. We are constantly evolving, ever-growing ever-changing human beings. That is a fact. How can we expect a goal of ours from two years ago to actually serve us? Maybe the reason why resistance comes up in our lives is because we are not actually on the right path and it’s time to re-evaluate. Maybe it’s looking at it from a different vantage point, or letting it go completely. Remember, only you know.
We are allowed to change our minds and we are allowed to change our course.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What am I like when I’m in balance?
- What am I like when I’m out of balance?
- What are things that bring me into balance?
- What am I doing?
- Why am I doing it?
- Is this in alignment with my higher self? If it isn’t, is it worth changing what I’m doing?
Use these as a launch pad. From there, more questions and answers may arise. And that’s perfect.
3. Reflection + Gratitude
This is my favourite part. I have a firm belief that celebrating and acknowledging our wins, no matter how big or small is important. Maybe you don’t throw yourself a parade every time (but if you do, let me know and I’ll help build your float)—but even telling yourself, “Good job, that was awesome!” can be a game changer. Taking a moment to reflect on and recognize our growth cultivates a deeper relationship with ourselves, and in turn, with others.
If they say “do what sets your soul on fire,” then see these practices as a way to stoke that fire within you. There’s a reason why they call it burnt out when you’re running on empty and completely depleted. That’s no way to live so let’s keep that fire burning long and steady, baby.
So take a moment or two. Let’s do this again and ask yourself:
- How did I show up this year?
- Did I show up for myself?
- What did I focus on?
- What did I learn?
Remember that you can begin again. Or you can continue on. You can do more of the same, or you can do something different. One isn’t right or wrong, or better than the other. It’s just worth exploring and knowing for yourself. The answers are nowhere except within. Only you know.
Some of my favourite year-end tools:
- Year Compass – a free printable booklet with thoughtful questions to help sort out your previous year and plan your upcoming year. I’ve done this twice and it’s amazing to see how much I’ve grown and accomplished!
- Journal Prompt – Pretend it is December 31, 2019, New Year’s eve of NEXT year and write out your year as if it has already happened. What have you accomplished? How do you feel? Who are you with and where? Goals, Relationships, business ideas, everything. Try to be as specific as possible and don’t stop writing for 20 minutes even if some of it doesn’t make sense.”
- Gratitude List – Nothing beats a good ol’ gratitude list. Gratitude is probably one of the healthiest emotions we can practice. When we are grateful, we emanate at a higher vibration and we FEEL better. When we feel good, we do more good. We want to do better work, show up for our friends and family, and help others. What were you truly grateful for this year? Remember to include yourself on there! If you’re having trouble getting started, think about the things you have that money can’t buy.
Do these practices regularly. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to re-evaluate your course. You can start anytime. Being willing makes you able. Whenever you’re feeling stuck, stagnant, or even pulled in many directions, that’s the sign to come back to yourself and perhaps, scrap the to-list, let go of what’s not serving you, and then breathe a breath of gratitude and reflect.
Go get ’em, friends.