Every December I like to reflect on the little goals I have made over the past year, perhaps a way of getting ready for the New Year, bringing the old year to a close. I also like to reflect on what I have to be thankful for, which usually amounts to a great deal.
From the moment we are born until the day we die, our entire lives consist of endless events and actions, so it is natural to reflect on these times. Reflecting gives us an opportunity to make sense of the chaos, to gain closure, to identify recurring patterns that went past previously unnoticed and to objectively analyze our efforts to gather insights into potential areas of improvement. It sounds easy, and it is, but too often we reflect on past events with a level of self criticism and judgment that is unfounded and unjust. Instead of mastering the art of reflection, we become the masters and living legends of self-induced drama. Inadvertent experts at creating something out of things that were never anything. In other words, we make mountains out of molehills and lions out of kittens.
Someone told me once that the art of reflection is knowing how to learn from your mistakes without tormenting yourself about them. By making a list of everything you learned and what you would do differently next time, helps to alleviate any stress and concerns you have by creating an avenue for you to intellectually process your thoughts and experiences. Once you have finished objectively reflecting on your experiences, understand what you would do differently, you can take a deep breath, in one mighty swoop accept yourself for being human, and forgive your mistakes (which make you human). Let go of any negative feelings (such as shame and regret) and refocus your attention and efforts on your next immediate projects and your future dreams and aspirations.
Ultimately, mastering the art of reflection allows us to flow with life in ease. We are able to learn and grow wiser from our experiences without living with the heavy burden of over analytical self-judgment and self-contempt, so as we create and live the life of our dreams, and then we are better equipped to deal with all of life’s inevitable challenges, lessons, and successes.
What is your definition of success? What does the word mean to you? The word comes from the Latin "succedere" meaning 'to come after.' Thus success comes after something but what is it?
The famous salesman, Tom Hopkins defines it as follows: "Success is the lifelong journey toward predetermined worthwhile goals".
I like that definition because you can have small successes along the journey as you navigate the roles and worlds of your life but it also reminds you to keep the big picture in sight. Nevertheless, you also need the right attitude, and sometimes you’re not in control of anything happening in your life except your attitude!
Here’s a favorite quote by Charles Swindoll:
“Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”
Another quote I always think about when I am doing my year-end reflection is from Oscar Wilde regarding selfishness.
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live;
it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”