December is a time of reflection as we come to the end of another calendar year, and 2020 has been a year unlike any other for all of us. We are human beings in search of meaning. We are looking for ways of internalising what we have been through this year to make sense of all the disruption, loss of autonomy (the power to exercise choice) and to ascribe meaning to the chaos. I am challenging you to do what all highly successful and evolved people do – to cultivate a habit of self-reflection and have a good look back on this year.
Without a doubt, 2020 forced us to look at our lives through a different lens giving us opportunities to revisit our priorities and even reset our goals and the way we do life and work. Looking back on 2020, I have given myself three categories to reflect on which include joy, growth and excellence. It has been a fabulous exercise that goes way beyond head goals and measuring efficiency, effectiveness and profit; encompassing feelings and the heart too. Joy and growth feature enormously on the list and just as I think I am finished; I remember something else to add. What a feeling of abundance for a very chaotic and unpredictable year.
I have made self-reflection a very visual exercise this year. I started with a vision board in mind, but reflections came so quickly that I wanted to create something instantly. A simple PowerPoint presentation evolved with three sections. Each time I come up with an item for joy, growth or excellence, I add a slide to my deck, type in a one-liner labelling what it is and find a photograph off my phone or the internet to illustrate my reflection. The sheer number of items I have identified under joy and growth have overwhelmed me. Excellence I knew would be a very short section, and so it should be.
To download my PowerPoint template: Reflections of 2020: joy, growth and excellence, click here and get going. You will be amazed and inspired (by yourself) when you do this self-reflection exercise.
A lesson from 2020
For a while we lost our balance as we reeled under the uncertainties that COVID-19 brought with it. We lost control of the rudder, losing our direction and bearing, and found living with uncertainty very disconcerting. One of the things that the Corona Virus Pandemic has brought into sharp focus, just as the unplanned death of my husband three years ago did, is that our idea that we have full control of our lives is an illusion and, sometimes we have to accept and work with life as it is, not as we would like to be.
Just as I cannot un-widow myself, none of us can un-COVID ourselves, as much as we may want to. No matter how traumatic, there is wisdom in this quotation from Joseph Campbell:
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
We never know what adventures, possibilities and opportunities may be around the corner if we give up control of our carefully laid plans.
While 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and way more difficult for some, let’s not forget that life before COVID-19 was not perfect. We had plenty of complaints, stress and ill-health – mentally and physically. We now have the opportunity to rewrite the script for our lives moving forward. How has this year been for you? What have you changed? What have you done differently? What risks have you taken? How have you grown? Are you seeing the world through a different lens? What is important to you? How teachable have you been?
To find some answers to these questions, start populating your Reflections of 2020 now. Here are some guidelines about the three sections: joy, growth and excellence that I have created for you.
What is joy? What brings you joy? What makes you feel a sense of joy – inside of you? This may sound like a really odd question in a year that has thrown us all such a curve ball and yet, if you really look, you will find joy – moments, actions and experiences. They do not have to be big things but they might be. I had a real combination of big and small things.
I want you to engage your senses when you are investigating what brings you joy:
This is the joy of being human and you can click here to read another blog specifically on experiencing joy through your senses.
Some of the things that brought me joy this year:
– Dew or rain caught in the leaves of succulents in my garden that look like diamonds
– A new relationship
– A new place to live in a different part of town
– Cooking for the joy of it for the first time since my husband’s death
– Rebuilding relationships with my sons
– Doing a wilderness walk in the Kruger with one of my best friends
Can you list some examples of how you have grown and changed this year?
– Have you acquired some new skills for doing working in a virtual world?
– Have you learnt patience and gratitude?
– Have you learnt to cope with loneliness?
– Have you learnt to validate and acknowledge yourself?
– How do you keep yourself motivated?
– How teachable have you been?
– How have you learnt to manage your time?
Some areas where I have grown this year:
– Developing my virtual presenting skills and using over 17 different virtual conferencing platforms
– Creating many of new presentations to help companies cope with COVID-19
– Launching a podcast
– Landing a new book contract with Penguin Random House
– Making some decisions about what to let go of; thoughts, beliefs, objects and places that no longer serve me
– Getting real about money and financial planning
– Ditching sleeping tablets (I used them for over two years after my husband’s murder)
– Taking on the presidency of the Johannesburg Chapter of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA)
As mentioned, this will be a short section as only very few items should make the cut. Excellence means extraordinary achievement or expression of your talents and abilities. For me, this very much showed itself in my work this year.
Items that I would classify as expressions of excellence in 2020 include:
– Taking on the role of convention convenor for the PSASA’s Speak to the Future virtual convention, which entailed leading a team that pioneered a 100% virtual event with 24 speakers from around the world
– For five months, from the beginning of COVID, I was given an additional weekly slot on Radio 702 with the fabulous Azania Mosaka every Wednesday at 1.30pm called Navigating COVID-19 to Win @ Work and Life
– Creating some very powerful multi-media content for a major insurance company for their broker and financial adviser professional development programme around my What If™ concept
– Putting my years of media skills behind a microphone on radio and behind a camera on TV to good use in becoming an engaging virtual presenter
Here’s to feelings of joy, growth and accomplishment as you embark on this reflection exercise. May the ‘doing of it’ engage a sense of curiosity for you for 2021 and the adventure of ‘not knowing’ that awaits us all. While not knowing and feeling uncertain is scary, it is also the place of all possibility, of unexpected consequences, refreshed levels of engagement, and new opportunities.
My wish for you: may your curiosity be stronger than your fear!