Looking back and looking forward

Happy New Year! I’m such a sucker for New Year’s excitement. It’s like the first day of school for me in terms of excitement to have a clean slate. I can’t help but love shiny new beginnings and the opportunity of a fresh year ahead.

2021 was one of the hardest years for me personally, but I also experienced a tremendous amount of personal growth. As we start fresh in 2022, I wanted to look back and reflect on what good has come from this past year and how I can carry that forward into the new year.

I started journaling this year with the five same daily prompts each evening (idea taken from Dr. Margie Warrell). I’m applying my five daily questions across the last year here.

What did I do well in 2021?

  • I set boundaries with both family and with work (unfortunately I had to have my boundaries broken before I realized I needed to establish them, but the important thing is that I set them).
  • I defined my personal values and promised myself I would do a better job of honoring them.
  • I took time to relax and recover (again, I had to completely burn out first to get to a point of doing this, but the recovery is the important part).
  • I defined the things I love doing and committed to myself that I would make more time to do them.
  • I believe that I set a positive example in not only how I did my work in 2021, but also in how I stepped back to define boundaries this year.

What am I grateful for in 2021?

This is going to be a long list that will not even scrape the surface of being comprehensive, but here goes nothing…

  • My supportive partner and his confidence in me (especially when I’m filled with self doubt).
  • The health of my friends and family as the pandemic continues.
  • The ability to receive my vaccine and booster and resume a new lifestyle with less worry.
  • My therapist, Gail, and having good health insurance that allowed me to go to therapy 2x a month.
  • My career coach, Julie, and the self awareness that the YouMap analysis process brought me, and our ongoing relationship for accountability.
  • My strategic partners and clients of my startup that believe in my capacity and who allow me to serve their business each day.
  • My furbaby, Paisley, who is a ray of sunshine on even the darkest days.
  • My neighborhood of amazing people who have been there to support us and celebrate with us this year.
  • The dog we fostered this fall, Josie, who we absolutely loved having in our home and enjoy following on social media in her new home in Madison.
  • The staff at Crystal Coffee, my neighborhood coffee shop, who have served me so many delicious cinnamon rolls and almond lattes this year, and the fact that they were able to reopen indoor dining after a year of drive-thru and outdoor service only.
  • The privilege and financial security that I have to be able to start fresh professionally.
  • Our record player and our growing vinyl collection, which has brought so much joy to Jon and I this year.
  • My friends who have given me so many chances to laugh and step away from the chaos of the world this year.
  • The ability to travel more freely! I took roadtrips to Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, around Wisconsin, and to the Smoky Mountains this year. I got to visit family in Kentucky and North Carolina, too.

What can I appreciate about myself in 2021?

  • I learned a hell of a lot about myself. I spelled out what my strengths, skills, values and non-negotiables are this year. I gained an understanding of WHY I burned out so badly and believe I know how to avoid recurrance in the future.
  • I feel that I am living as my authentic self for the first time in a long time.
  • I committed to things that would enhance my creativity and improve my health (even if I was terrible at them!), such as taking 30 bootcamp classes this summer, going to therapy regularly, testing over 90 recipes using in-season produce this summer, resuming a meditation practice, etc. etc.
  • I learned new things, such as native plant gardening, dog-training, how to cross country ski, that water aerobics is not just for old ladies, how to use Pivot tables in Excel (thanks, Meag), how to make about a dozen cocktails, and I’m starting to uncover the many things I DON’T know about entrepreneurship! (Seriously, why don’t they teach bookkeeping and taxes in high school?)
  • I finally feel like I’m in a place where I’m managing my anxiety in a healthy way.
  • This year broke me, but I came out in the end even stronger.

What did others appreciate about me in 2021?

  • I tried to be there for others when they needed me (financially, as a listening ear, as the person helping someone move, supporting someone emotionally, etc.).
  • I ask good questions and dive deep to really understand and appreciate those around me.
  • I didn’t sugar coat the bad parts of this year – I did my best to be honest and authentic about my struggles (without begging for pity, just sharing honestly).
  • For someone who is really risk averse, I took big risks this year that really scared me.
  • I got (more) comfortable asking for and accepting the help of others graciously – still not 100% there, but working on getting better at this.

What learning from this year will I apply in 2022?

  • I know in my heart that I work to live, and I do not live to work. I won’t let work consume me in the way that it did in 2021.
  • That means that I’ll honor my core work hours and fiercely defend my lunch break and my morning and afternoon rituals before and after the workday. (My rituals include Morning: movement, circadian/ dog walk, quick meditation, healthy breakfast; Lunch: eating lunch outside the office, maybe a walk or activity, longer meditation; Afternoon: dog walk, cook dinner, journal, read or watch something).
  • I will keep engaging in the good habits that keep my anxiety in check (exercise, hydration, mindfulness, journaling) when times are good rather than relying on these as magical cures when life is stressful.
  • I’ll continue to find ways to enjoy movement and physical activity without worrying about whether I’ll lose weight from engaging in it. The benefit is in the dopamine my body generates from movement, not the calories burned!
  • I’ll keep learning what the value of my time is and not say yes to opportunities that come at too high of a cost (don’t under-charge for the value you bring).
  • I’ll make time for the things that bring me joy. This might be taking time to travel, to snuggle the dog, to have lunch with my husband, to go on an impromptu adventure, to cook a delicious dinner, to laugh with a friend.
  • I’ll get more comfortable with failing and taking risks. Failing is a necessary part of achieving, and I can’t continue growing unless I take risks and fail on occasion. Leaving a stable job is scary, starting a business that may or may not make it is scary, but if I don’t take risks out of fear of failure, I won’t grow into the woman I want to be.

I hope you, too, enjoy the shiny new beginning of 2022 and can be kind to yourself as you set goals, intentions, or ideas of what you want this year to hold.

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