Part of the reason I keep a planner is because my memory is terrible. Just ask my best friend since third grade. I blame it on nursing and NP school and having to memorize so many drugs and diseases. I also blame it on having lived in four states and meeting several "sets of people" in my lifetime.
Anyway, when I sit down to start my year end review, I grab my planner. I repress memories which I am working on in therapy, but I really can’t remember what happened the past year without flipping through each month and glancing at big moments. I am not exactly sure why my brain is like that, but it is and yours may be too?
Sometimes my mind is blown when I look at everything that happened in my personal or professional or emotional life in one calendar year. How do we survive with the pace and the demands of the world today? When is enough enough? Everyone I know feels like they’re drowning with all the work deadlines, projects, meetings, kids' activities, sports, and that's not even accounting for the emotional toll the past 2 years have taken on every single one of us.
When I look back over 2021 in my own life, the following events come to light:
As I look back over the events of 2021, it often sparks me to plan and reserve trips or experiences for 2022. My manager also loves that I give her my days off for the entire year in December or January. I realize you might not be able to do this, but it actually reduces my anxiety knowing in January when I will be off throughout the year. If I am having an extremely stressful season / week / month, I already know the upcoming days of rest that are scheduled. My patients appreciate it too... less moving and rearranging (sorry for those reading this- 2021 was rough on my schedule!). 🤪
Sitting down and performing a yearly review also gives me reassurance or reminders of certain events I do NOT want to attend or participate in again. It helps me to identify what was life-giving and what was life-draining. That clarity is HUGE.
You'll notice I did not list the following (but they all also happened): hurt feelings, miscommunication, personal growth, continued grief, strained conversations, burnout, apathy, frustration, disdain, regret, fear, hopelessness, anger, and anxiety.
While I am not listing those publicly, they are named on my heart and mind. Thanks to counseling, I am trying not to wear them inside my body (The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD). I am intentionally working to process and let go as I go instead of swallowing or shoving it down, or worse- spewing it out. This is hard work. This is a big deal.
So I encourage you as we wrap up 2021 and enter 2022, to sit down and block off a good 30 minutes to yourself. Scroll through your planner or your Google Calendar or your Facebook pictures and think about the past 12 months. What felt good? What felt icky? Who gave you energy when you were around them? Who made you feel bad about yourself? What habits added to your life? What subtracted? Look at your screen time averages on your phone. Maybe set a goal to lower those. A fellow blogger in my writer's group wrote a piece about our children remembering us looking at our phones instead of looking at their faces. LET THAT SINK IN FOR A MINUTE.
I may write a piece about goal-setting and planning for the year ahead, but I would be a sham if I told you I set any goals for 2021. I didn't even know I would start writing this year. This nudge just got so big in July that I just started (oh yeah, I forgot our trip to Birmingham this summer). I was in a hotel room in Birmingham with keyed-up pre-teens, a snoring husband (love you babe), and a laptop staring at me. I had to process all this STUFF and it just started.
So just start. Even if you only take the next 2-5 minutes to reflect on 2021. I beg of you to do it. So many of us are just sleepwalking through life. Work. Supper. Kids. TV. Bed. Repeat. Weekend. And repeat again. Let us all try some self-evaluation, life-evaluation, emotional-evaluation. What is life-giving and what is life-draining? What brings you joy?
The only person keeping me from writing was ME. What will YOU allow yourself to do in 2022?