Written by Glynis Klein
Are the echoes of 2021 still ringing too loud for you, even though it’s come and gone?
Does everyone around you seem ready to move into the new season, except you?
The world moves at such a rapid pace these days that slowing down feels like a luxury. There’s a pressing perception that you either keep up or are left behind. Among the trending slogans, one that resonates well among introverts is an acronym, JOMO, as the antidote to FOMO (fear of missing out). It lowers the compulsion to keep up with external pressures and move at a pace that works for you.
As you settle deeper into the midlife season, the joy of missing out becomes more appealing as it frees you to slow down and savour your experiences more deeply. In the past year, chances are you navigated four seasons crammed with big and small moments, personal challenges, tragedy, and victories. If so, you can relate to the ‘times’ described in the popular Ecclesiastes 3 (verse1-8) poem that captures the cyclical rhythm of life.
Viewed from a spiritual perspective, your life experiences and particularly the challenges you navigate are said to develop perseverance and deepen maturity as you evolve from one life stage to the next.
Who you were at the end of 2021 has shifted as you begin this brand-new year. Before you get pulled into the many roles that this new season will ask of you, take some time to pause, rest and recharge your body, mind, and soul. Find a quiet place to reflect on the significant moments of the year that’s been, and how your unique experiences refined and shaped who you are becoming.
If you’re unsure where to start, these five stages of reflection, inspired by the Ecclesiastes poem, may offer some inspiration:
Stage 1: A Time to Pause
Throughout the year, the frantic year pulls you in different directions. Family, marriage, relationships, health, career, economic uncertainty, the persistent pandemic and other health concerns, daily news and social media are among the many voices that scrambled for your attention. You poured yourself wholeheartedly into the many roles assigned to you, which can leave anyone exhausted and emptied. Danna Faulds, in her poem, Walk Slowly, offers a gentle reminder to pause.
Mindfulness practices such as breathing exercises, tuning in to your senses, and mindful walking can be helpful to help you slow down and clear inner space for reflecting on 2021.
Stage 2: A Time for Self-Care
A common misconception about self-care is that it’s a luxury reserved for only a select few. Self-care is not indulgent or selfish. It is essential for physical, mental and emotional health to foster overall wellbeing. A lack of self-care can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout.
Self-care has been clinically shown to improve physical health, concentration, and increase energy. It can help reduce anxiety and depression and increase a sense of happiness.
Self-care can focus on any of the seven wellness domains listed below, with examples for each:
- Physical (walk, swim, exercise, sleep)
- Emotional (therapy, cry, laugh, introspection)
- Social (quality time with family or friends)
- Environmental (take a walk, clean or declutter your living or work space)
- Financial (save or invest for a future goal)
- Spiritual (prayer, meditate, read)
Which of these self-care activities can you fit in your schedule to help you rest and recharge and increase a sense of peace?
Stage 3: A Time to Reflect
Once you feel physically rested and recharged, spend some time reflecting on your experiences of the past year. Reflective writing or journaling to explore your past or present experiences, thoughts and emotions can be healing and restorative in several ways. It can help manage anxiety, reduce stress and help you identify triggers that lead to unhealthy behaviours.
Reflective journaling can help you unravel problems and uncover new ways to cope with life stressors, in the same that chatting to a trusted friend or family member can help ease a burden.
Stage 4: A Time to Take Stock
What’s there to be grateful for?
Research shows that counting our blessings, or focusing on gratitude, can help us feel happier, improve our health, deal better with adversity. It can generate more positive emotions and help us build strong relationships.
Gratitude or ‘gratia‘ is a word derived from Latin, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. It is acknowledging the goodness in one’s life that is often attributed to a source beyond ourselves. This can relate to people, nature or a higher power.
As you reflect on the past year, you may be pleasantly surprised to notice the smallest blessings you may have overlooked or forgotten.
Recall the four seasons in 2021. For each season, can you list at least 1-3 things you feel grateful for?
Let’s Keep it Real
For the past two years, we’ve lived through a pandemic that turned our world inside out. It fractured the very fabric of society, with loss and grief affecting families across the globe. It disrupted the world economies, impacting the way we work, educate and socialise. Ultimately, it forced us to pause and re-evaluate everything that matters.
- In which ways have you felt those shifts?
- What did you learn about yourself as you moved through the hard experiences?
- How has it strengthened your resilience and character?
No experience is ever a waste. Depending on your outlook, every milestone and challenge you faced last year has the capacity to evolve you to become your best self.
Stage 5: A Time for a New Word
As you get ready to fully step into this new year, what are your dreams and aspirations for the future? More importantly, how can you turn abstract desires into concrete goals?
When planning for the future, many find it helpful to come up with a word for the year. Your word can capture all your goals and plans and serve as a signpost as you move through the seasons. You can apply your word to the main pillars in your life, including health, family, self-care, spirituality, career, and community. At the end of the year, you will notice how your word for the year may have guided your big decisions and goals.
Spend some time thinking about the year ahead and one word that can capture your goals.
I hope you found these five steps helpful to bring closure to 2021 and help prepare you for 2022. May your year be full of fresh hope and unexpected possibilities!
If you need more inspiration to step into the new year, feel free to browse through the Resource Library for tools, such as the free 2022 Mind Map or the 2022 Journal, to support you towards purposeful living.