When I was growing up my mother always told me I had “ants in my pants“. I was always excited or agitated about something, and couldn’t sit still for a second.
Not much has changed.
Even now I struggle to simply “be still”. My mind always active – always looking ahead to the “next” thing – I have to force myself to live in the present, and find quiet reflection really difficult.
And yet, in a world where things are moving so fast, I realise that sometimes in life, you have to stop before you can truly begin, and that pressing pause to be still and reflect is often the best way to start. Of course, you don’t want to live life looking behind you, but taking time out to intentionally slow down and consider the year gone past can be an extremely beneficial, rewarding, and productive thing to do. Trevor Hudson says,
“We don’t learn simply from experiences; we learn when we reflect on those experiences.”
Travis Gale, leadership coach and a good friend of mine, believes strongly in taking time out to reflect, and says that the key to healthy reflection is all about asking the right questions. He says, “Many of us look for answers, but few sit down and think about the right questions to ask. Questions have the uncanny knack to open up possibilities, to get us thinking out the box, and perhaps break down the limitations we put on ourselves.”
And so, before you start 2012, why not STOP and ask the right questions? Questions like:
- What energised me most in 2011?
- Which relationships brought me the most joy? Why?
- Which relationships put me under the most pressure? Why?
- What were the “defining moments” of 2011?
- What strengths did I see in myself during 2011?
- Under which conditions did I see myself thrive?
- What did I avoid doing that I know I most needed to do?
- What books and mentors had the greatest impact on me? Why?
- Am I closer to my friends and family from my activities last year?
Answering these kind of questions allows you to accomplish two objectives. First, it forces you to focus on the important things in your life and not get lost in the trivial. Second, it provides an excellent platform to set goals for the new year.