The Five Gifts of Reflection
I hope you’re reading this blog post at a time where you have the mental capacity to think about how 2022 and beyond are going to go for you. No, I’m not going to tell you to make a vision board (my approach to a vision board is more than an arts and crafts project), although I can help you create one. I want to invite you to put together a list of reflections.
Reflections are better than resolutions because they help us to understand and come to terms with what we’ve already done. Whereas resolutions are a wish list, reflections are an assessment. What’s more is that real reflections take time to compile. You don’t throw out resolutions like you’re playing Spades because you’re not thinking merely about the actions you took. You’re also looking within to ask yourself why you did those things, and why they matter to you. Essentially, you’re adding to the narrative that is you and the story of your life. It’s an evaluation of the highs and the nuances. Here are some of the questions that I ask myself as I dive within:
- What did I do? How long had it been brewing in my mind and heart or was it impulsive?
- How did I feel about it, before and after?
- Who would help me celebrate this?
- Who would look at this accomplishment and not understand what it means to me?
- Would/should I do this again?
As you reflect on 2021, I’ll share some of mine with you.
1. There comes a time when the thing you’ve always wanted to do burns in your heart.
Actually doing it is a tremendous source of personal pride (I took a two week solo road trip). The burning was a collision of two things. On one hand, I’m increasingly aware that tomorrow isn’t promised despite the fact that I need to plan for it. On the other hand, I work hard and desperately wanted to do something that made me feel like the embodiment of the woman I’ve always wanted to be. In short, I felt like I’d earned it. Whatever your “always wanted to do” thing is, GO AFTER IT WITH ALL YOU HAVE….you’ll resent yourself if you don’t. =
2. Knowledge, of self and family history, truly is power.
For a long time, my struggle with imposter syndrome came from a place of feeling behind schedule. I’ve often felt like I found my path late in life, and I also quietly mourned not coming from better stock. Then, I visited three plantations. It was the most power and affirming experience of my life. It helped me to see my family and Black people from a different angle. It helped me realize that I’m not behind at all. What’s funny is that I couldn’t have told you that this is what I needed, but it filled and affirmed me. Read about that whole experience here, My Juneteenth was May 10th.
3. There are some classes in life that you need to take again and again.
There was an issue that I dealt with years ago, and I arrived at a mental place where I could manage it. Over the last year or so, it resurfaced. The “it” was actually two things. One was that I needed double down on my health (my food choices should be better) and the other was and is a strained relationship in my life. The ebb and flow of my health maintenance is a lifelong commitment, and I know that I’m never going to completely sever that strained relationship. For the former, I revisited my why. For the latter, I set boundaries and worked on my coping (acceptance) skills.
4. You need a vision, a plan, and focus.
One day, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I am experiencing success in every area of my life wherein I have a vision…………….and that I have nothing, literally nothing, in those areas where I don’t have a vision. You see, when you have a vision, you start working on a plan, sometimes subconsciously. When you don’t see anything, you don’t do anything. Here’s the kicker: it’s not enough for you to simply say, “I want a great career” (or whatever it is that you want). You must define what that means to you and own it. Owning your desires is crucial because that ownership informs your plan and helps you to recognize it when start to see it.
5. Brene Brown was right when she joy is the emotion that makes us most vulnerable.
This one is kind of related to #1. Oftentimes, we don’t celebrate our successes and lean into the pure joy of them for the same reason that we don’t own our dreams: we’re afraid that we’re going to lose it or can’t have it (see #4). Although our world is filled with quips like, “The same people you pass going up, you’ll pass coming down”, let yourself feel. Joy is addictive, and you’ll do more to have those good feelings again and again.