The Ultimate Gift – For Yourself
What Christmas gift might you offer yourself for the year that’s coming?
At this time of year, there’s a certain energy that takes hold. Catch ups, parties, conversations, gift-giving, and winding up programs of work.
In a year where it seems you’ve been ‘permanently on’ and bracing for the next news item, you might find yourself lacking the energy it takes to ‘rev’ in the month of December. If you’re feeling ‘low’ energetically, this is something that’s important to pay attention to.
We invite you to take some time in December to reflect and take stock of the year that has been. This article is intended to guide you to do just that. We invite you to use the following questions as a conscious and deliberate reflective opportunity. You might even consider doing this in a conversation with someone close to you – or a few people to begin to ‘ease back’ in the holiday season after a rather extraordinary year.
There are four domains we’d like to invite your attention to: your physical wellbeing, your sense of work-life balance, your outlook for the year ahead and your sense of what we call Personal Agency – your capacity and willingness to shape your life and influence outcomes. These can all be at risk when fatigue sets in, so action NOW is a good idea to ensure you transition to the new year feeling renewed.
Your Physical Wellbeing
Let’s consider this in three aspects of physical wellbeing – Sleep, Movement and Nutrition. No matter where you live in the world, it’s likely that some aspect of your physical wellness has been impacted this year. Perhaps concern for the uncertainty of the year that was or concern for job security have impacted sleep patterns? Perhaps your normal routines in terms of fitness and movement have been curtailed by a lockdown, the loss of access to gyms or a sense that you’re more sedentary if you’ve shifted to working from home? Finally, you might have been less attentive to the nutritional building blocks required to maintain health and vitality these last months?
No matter your response, now is a great time to take stock of what works for your physical wellbeing. Consider using these questions to begin a period of restoration and renewal:
- How can you best take care of your physical wellbeing in the Christmas break?
- What practices might promote sound and restful sleep for you?
- What choices can you make around food and beverage that deliver vitality?
- What routines can you craft in the holiday period that promote more movement?
- Who in your social circle might be a positive influence for great choices?
- How would it feel to transition into 2021 with your own physical wellbeing project under way?
2. Your Sense of Work-life Balance
‘Sense’ here is an important word. This aspect of your wellbeing is a very personal choice – particularly if you define yourself by your work and role. What we want to encourage here is a strong sense of ‘interests and play’ – what you invest in beyond work. Interests refer to those non-work activities that give you a sense of enjoyment, perhaps even a social experience with others who enjoy the same thing. Interests are slightly different from play, which involves a sense of engagement in activity with no specific purpose – play simply because it’s enjoyable. For those parents reading this, think of the hours you consume with children in the free space of play and how enriching it can be in its own right. Think of what it’s like to decorate a Christmas tree with a child and the joy and wonder of sometimes hours hanging decorations and tinsel.
If you’re reading this and sensing your balance is more to the ‘work’ side than ‘life’ side, consider these reflections:
- What interests bring you a deep sense of satisfaction and enjoyment?
- Is there a long-standing interest that you’ve imagined you’d get to ‘some day’ and what would life be like for you if ‘that day’ was here?
- When you have more ‘interests’ in life, how might this play out in the context of work?
- Where and when in the past have you found yourself enjoying ‘play’?
- How might you begin to identify opportunities for ‘play’ to re-balance your work-life register?
3. Your Outlook
Outlook refers to your perspective of the future. As you look towards 2021, do you have more of a sense of hope and possibility, or a sense of resignation and pessimism?
The good news is that this can be shifted if you find yourself more in the negative since it is often a function of the story you’re telling yourself about what’s possible and what’s not. A positive outlook is something you can work at every day through gratitude practice. Instead of focusing on ‘what’s missing’ and what’s not working, try focusing on what you have, what’s working and over time, you’ll begin to shift your mood and narrative to reveal more of what’s possible.
To begin to cultivate a positive outlook, reflect on these questions:
- What hardship did you experience in 2020 and what can you acknowledge and appreciate about yourself in the way you coped with this?
- What are the key lessons you’ll take forward with you from this year?
- In this very moment of reading, what 5 things are you most grateful for in your life right now?
- Who are the key people that influence and support you and your best interests and how can you spend some quality time in conversation with them in coming weeks?
- What’s possible for you in 2021 if you build the skills to focus more on ‘what’s possible’ rather than ‘what’s missing’ in your life?
4. Your Personal Agency
Personal Agency is all about your sense of capacity to influence outcomes in your life. It includes a commitment to search for options and explore the full range of choices available to you and your sense of commitment to a course of action and achieving goals. A sense of Personal Agency comes about when you proactively invest time in reflection to ‘reframe’ and move on, speak up with courage on matters important to you and align your decisions with your personal values.
To enhance your sense of Personal Agency, consider exploring the following questions:
- Given the year that’s passed, what new choices and possibilities have opened up for you?
- What short and medium term goals would create a sense of optimism and focus in the year ahead?
- What ‘new’ and positive story can you generate for yourself about the year that’s coming, in order to elevate your mood as you transition from 2020 to the New Year?
- What values and beliefs are most important for you for the choices you’re reflecting on about the future and your capacity to shape it?
- What decisions would you like to make for your own sense of wellbeing in 2021 and beyond?
These questions are intended to help you begin the process of reflecting and adjusting your sense of wellbeing ahead of the January 1 timeline. Winding down mindfully will help you enter the new year with a sense of settlement and acceptance of your unique experience.
Ever grateful to be writing this piece from Australia, we are aware that it’s an important time to pay attention to the experience of our families, friends and networks all around the world and the range of experiences COVID continues to shape around the world.
For those of you who lead teams and organisations, taking the opportunity for reflection and self-care is all the more important. You might consider leading your team through a facilitated discussion shaped by this article.
For whatever you choose, thanks for tuning in to our ‘long conversation’ during 2020 and we look forward to shaping more possibilities in and beyond 2021.
Happy holidays from our team to you and yours!