“I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” ~ Mark Twain
Before you fully enter your 2018 life, take a moment to closeout 2017. This will help and inform as you create your 2018 goals. I did this, and I am astonished by the insights that I gained. I consider myself a person who reflects regularly. However, there is something powerful about ceremoniously synthesizing a year, to gain insight, and bring closure. As I closeout 2017, I can clearly see that I did not distribute my commitment and energy in proportion to my priorities. One of my top priorities received much less of me. Moreover, the closure process inspired me to ask myself these three questions at the start of any significant activity in 2018: What is the outcome that I clearly want with this? How can I be focused on this activity? How can I increase intensity in the things that matter?
Instauration of 2017
Francis Bacon wrote Instauratio Magna (The Great Instauration) an uncompleted collection of works that calls for the renewal and restoration of a utopia on earth in which mankind functions from an enlightened state based on knowledge and truth.
In that spirit, we are compelled to allow time for an instauration of 2017. Many times, individuals are apt to make a precipitated leap from one year to the next. For a society that likes instantaneous outcomes, it makes sense that the old of 2017 would be perfunctorily abandoned for the allure of a clean slate, of the potential and promise that 2018 holds.
However, we are products of our past whether we acknowledge that or not. We would do well to see the wisdom in synthesizing the events and experiences of 2017 and walk into 2018 empowered with that new awareness and those new learnings. The gift of life over 365 days was not lived perfunctory…it should be honored.
I propose that you process 2017 with a pen at hand. Writing is a process that helps one synthesize and gain clarity in thinking. It is a process that allows your conscious mind to meet your subconscious. Those who journal can attest to the moments of unexpected insights and “epiphanies” that can surface as one writes freely.
Dr. Caroline Leaf (2013, p. 181-182) explains that writing is a complex process that is cognitive and metacognitive (helps you think about your thinking). In journal writing the
frontal lobe becomes highly active, the temporal lobe and hippocampus become engaged and aid in recalling existing memories, and the structures in the midbrain activate to deal with the emotions that are evoked.
Furthermore, Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser (2000) makes a compelling case for the power of writing by sharing that writing triggers the reticular activating system (RAS), which signals the cerebral cortex to be aware and attentive to what is happening, to what you are writing.
7 Prompts that Will Give You Insight
Here are some prompts that you can use:
1. You can list eight dimensions of the human person and reflect how you did in each in 2017. The eight areas can be spirituality, intellectual development, physical care, relationships, material and financial aspects, vocational (career) contribution, and recreation/enjoyment.
2. What things am I grateful for from 2017? (Write a long list!)
3. My accomplishments for 2017 were… (Don’t allow negativity bias to set in, stop and celebrate your wins however small or large they were).
4. If I had to give 2017 a title or a word what would it be?
5. If I took away one message that will be a call to action to sharpen and refine myself based on what happened in 2017 what would that be?
6. What I know now that I did not know in 2017 is ….
7. If I could redo 2017 what three concepts/actions would describe what I could have done differently…
Now You are Ready for 2018 Goals!
Now, you have clarity and a baseline from which to create the 2018 that you desire to live. You have more clarity in the areas that you can sharpen and refine to become a better instrument of meaningful contribution in 2018. You are ready to create your new goals.
You took that time to collect some anecdotal and “qualitiatve” data to inform your next steps. Moreover, if you are mindful of your insights and willing to allow them to inform all that you do, think, and say in 2018, then you are less apt to show up with the same unaccomplished goals on December 31, 2018. This time you stand a better chance at effectuating change by allowing yourself this exercise in self-awareness.