It’s really easy to get to the end of a year and think, “Oh, that was a [tough/wonderful/terrible/insert word of choice] year.” We wrap it all up in a tight little bundle and slap a label on it with a word that’s supposed to sum up a whole 12 months, often dominated by the way the last few months have felt. But there are so many ups and downs over the course of a year, so many wonderful moments and challenging ones, that I don’t think it’s quite fair to the year to describe it with one word.
Before I embark on the process of setting a word or intentions for the year ahead and creating a vision board, I usually start by reflecting on the year that has passed. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of different planners, guides and tools* to help me do that, and these days it’s more of a mish mash of the things that work best for me.
One of the things that I’ve found enlightening is writing out writing down the months of the year and going back over my calendar, social media and memories to list the more significant events that occurred in each month of the previous year. That in itself can be eye-opening as you suddenly realise you experienced things a whole six months ago that have already fallen out of conscious memory. I then use a big sheet of paper (maybe two A4 sheets taped together in landscape) to plot each event over a x-y axis, noting the the high and low points over the year. I’ve found that it’s helpful to mark what you consider to be the highest of the high points and the lowest of the low points, and then mark the rest of the events in between. From there, I generally use a guide (like Ali Hill’s Stand Out Life Planner) to answer questions like what I was most proud of, what surprised me, what I’m grateful for, the heartbreaks and the lessons. After saying thank you to the year that has passed, I can then start looking forward into the new year and start mapping out what my visions and intentions are for the year ahead.
2018 did come with some big challenges. Most significantly with my Mum going through treatment and major surgery for removal of an Oesophageal tumour early in the year. While she initially recovered well over the months following surgery and was declared cancer free, a secondary cancer diagnosis late in the year led to a very rapid decline in her health and my beautiful Mum died on 7 January 2019. Our tribe spent some very sacred family time together in the month before Mum died peacefully at home, sharing many stories, tears and laughter. As hard as it was to witness Mum’s decline, I consider it such a gift to have had the opportunity to be with her at the very end of her life, and sharing many important conversations with her, Dad and my siblings in our last few months together.
Last year also had some incredible highs. I travelled to Ireland and London and met online friends from the Down syndrome community in real life; my youngest niece, the 21st grandchild in our family, was born; I celebrated my 40th birthday, and the milestone birthdays of some very special friends; I was really proud of Ben and my brother David for training and completing the Kokoda trek in PNG; I was very excited to take home a BUPA Blog Award for the Personal category; and we had a magical family adventure at Disneyworld and Universal Studios when Ben, the boys and I travelled to Florida, USA late in the year.
When I set my ‘one little word’ early in 2018 as “momentum“, I was very aware of how little motivation and energy I had for the year ahead.
“So I keep taking steps, slowly but surely. I am working on small, incremental, imperfect action in the hope that it will keep me moving forward, keep driving momentum, until I find my mojo again.”
Keeping the word momentum in mind last year definitely did help encourage me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and trust that the energy would return at some stage. On reflection, I did manage to achieve quite a bit last year without setting big epic goals but just by taking small, consistent steps (and I am still making my bed daily, just FYI 😉). While it felt like a pretty low energy year to begin with, the pace certainly picked up between August and November and it was pretty much all go until the end of the year. And then the direction and energy changed again as we spent sacred time with Mum in her last few months on earth.
It’s now April, we’re in the second quarter of 2019, and I’ve finally finished my reflections on the past year and dreaming for the year ahead. I’m acknowledging that I don’t feel like setting specific goals and outcomes is really my superpower, but I am pretty good at knowing how I want to feel and working towards feeling love, joy and ease in my life.
Which is why for 2019 I’ve chosen the word CONNECTED.
- I want to feel connected to my true purpose on this earth and who I’m here to serve.
- I want to feel connected to my creative soul and to sharing my words again.
- I want to feel connected to the woman I am separate to my identity as mother and wife, and be an example to the boys of how important is to value myself.
- I want to feel connected to Ben and the boys, and to create ways for us to keep that connection to each other as the boys grow older.
I have a some pretty lofty visions and plans for myself this year, (which feel a bit scary to say out loud right now, but promise to share as the year progresses), and I am learning that the daily momentum is a really good strategy for me. I continue to ask the question: what small action can I take today that helps me achieve that big picture dream?
Have you picked a word for the year? How do you like to plan and dream?
“If you want to feel connected to your own purpose, know this for certain: Your purpose will only be found in service to others, and in being connected to the something far greater than your mind/body/ego.” ~ Wayne Dyer