by Cindy Clemens
“In a culture that constantly invites us to drink from the fountain of youth, I’m happy to sip from the reservoir of experience.” – Cheryl Richardson
Retrospectives. They appear in many forms this time of year. Taking a pause to see where we’ve been, where we’re at, and where we want to go is embedded in our genes.
I wonder if retrospectives are more than just sentimental journeys. Do we learn anything or grow from taking a look back over the year that has just passed? I believe we do, especially if we take a few minutes to look at three questions.
What Lessons Did I Learn That I Can Stop Repeating?
I remember the first time I encountered the idea that we keep having the same experiences until we learn from them. It was when I was read Cherie Carter-Scott’s book If Life Is a Game, These Are the Rules. Her fourth rule is that a lesson is repeated until learned. It hit me like a ton of bricks – learn the lesson, and you eliminate that form of drama and pain from your life.
Of course, the learning process does not stop. We just get new lessons to learn. The good news is that I seem to be getting better at learning the lessons a bit sooner and a bit easier.
The next time you are looking back over a portion of life, ask yourself what lessons you have learned and are no longer repeating. You are getting wiser and life is getting easier. Allow yourself to acknowledge your victories.
What Surprises Appeared to Guide My Way?
Isn’t it a blessing that we rarely get what we want, or in the way we first envision it coming to us? I think of all the serendipitous twists and turns I took along my planned route in life. Probably the biggest one was meeting my husband Jim when I was just 19. I really had planned out my life very clearly: college, law school, trial attorney. I wasn’t planning on getting seriously involved with someone until at least my mid-twenties.
But then fate threw me a curveball. Jim walked into my life and we went on my journey together; a much better plan than my solo journey!
So when you look back over 2019, think about what you thought would happen and what actually did happen. What were the unexpected turns? The changes in plans? The new options that appeared? Remind yourself that this is how life works, and watch for and celebrate these surprises when they appear in the future and change up your plans.
What Kind of a Person Am I Being?
At a certain point in life, we get a glimmer of our mortality and realize the only thing that remains when we’re gone is our legacy – what kind of human “being” we were. It can be a bit challenging to stop and think about who we are being in life.
We’re so busy with what we do and have, yet what actually counts is how we are as a person to other people. Are we able to connect and make a difference somewhere? Do we live our values and let people know what we believe is important?
In thinking about who you’re being, it would be very helpful to ask a couple of friends or family members what kind of person they think you are. I know it sounds like you’re writing your eulogy, and that actually is what you’re doing. You are deciding who you want to be going forward – more of the same or is it time to make a change?
The ending of your life is not yet written, but your character and core values are being formed. Decide if you are the person you want to be. And start being that person fully and joyously as you move into 2020.
Join Cindy Clemens at Red Mountain Resort December 26-28 for a group presentation and private life coaching sessions to create a compelling vision for 2020. Learn more.
About Cindy Clemens
Cindy Clemens knows about designing a great life. After 15 years as a trial attorney in California, she traveled the country in an RV, became a life coach and motivational speaker, and moved to southern Utah, a journey detailed in her book Life Is a Do-Over. Her specialty is helping people identify their gifts and passions, feed their inner flame, and do more of what brings them joy.