Simple Year-End Practices to Bring Awareness

 This past Thursday was Diwali - ‘the festival of lights.’  In Sanskrit, Diwali means ‘row of lamps,' and folks use this occasion to line up their homes with lit candles and diyas (‘lamps’).


These lamps symbolize knowledge, prosperity, and goodness. So the light provides a way out of the darkness with the darkness representing ignorance, evil, and poverty. 


Diwali is an opportunity to bring awareness to our inner life and to clear the obstacles.


I've always appreciated this time of year as it serves as an early new year’s since Diwali generally falls between late October or early November. It occurs right before the holiday rush here in the U.S.


There’s too much pressure leading up to December 31st to map out the following year. “What are my intentions? Resolutions? Oh, I didn’t achieve that health goal so why bother putting it on my list again.” 


We can be quite harsh towards ourselves. I’m a strong proponent of being gentle with ourselves because if you have angst around your goals, then you're less likely to accomplish them.


I take the time to reflect on my own growth and areas that I want to pay more attention to so I engage in two practices.


The first practice is choosing a word that’ll define next year.


I've chosen “fun” because, during that period, I was going through a lot with my family and health concerns so needed more levity in my life. So I agreed to say yes to more social gatherings and try new things. That was the year I picked up my guitar again.


Another year, I chose “ease” since I was in a stressful role as an executive director and wished for more ease in my daily work and interactions.


So what’s the emotion I want to cultivate more of in the coming year? The word that’s bubbling up for me is “connection.”


These past two years have shown that we're truly social beings so I want to encourage more connection in 2022.


The questions I’ve been asking myself are “What does connection mean to me? How do I want to deepen my connection with my loved ones, my community, and my work?” It likely means hosting more dinners, Facetiming more often, and making a bigger deal of my birthday (a day I usually let slip by with little fanfare).


Essentially, the spirit driving this is celebrating more with loved ones and not waiting for a reason to gather in person or virtually.


Take time in the coming weeks to ponder what word you’d like to play with for next year. When we set intentions, we’re more likely to follow through.


The second practice I engage in is the ‘wheel of life.’ 

It’s a coaching exercise where we visually map out the different areas of our life - health, physical environment, career, financial, relationships, creativity, personal growth, and hobbies.


If any of these areas don't resonate, swap it out for a different word that makes more sense.


If we don't occasionally take stock in our lives, then we're simply drifting along the river of life, and I promised myself long ago, as much as possible, I wanted to live without regret.


If a job was no longer serving me, then I'd find the closest exit ramp. If a friendship was bringing more frustration than ease, I would let that person go because usually, it was me hanging on. 🥴


By doing this exercise, it helps us to see visually where we stand in different areas. This is a no-judgment space.⁠


On this wheel, rate yourself in each area on a scale of one to ten with ten being “I’m doing awesome in this area.” And for those areas that rate a 7 or below, see what small changes you can do to lead to more satisfaction in that area.⁠ 


Years ago, health was a major area of growth for me. I was feeling lethargic often and didn’t feel comfortable in my skin. My clothes felt tight since I was gaining weight due to inactivity. So I opted to focus on health that year. And asked myself, what were minor shifts that were doable? 


For me, it meant drinking more water and working out three times a week for 20 minutes. Simple. That's all I committed to when I started my health journey. 


After being consistent with this practice for a few months, I added on by increasing it to four times a week for 30 minutes. And I started to see improvement to the point where it’s no longer an area that I focus on as much since my health habits are keyed in.


Small shifts make all the difference.


My invitation to you is after rating yourself to journal on these different areas and just choose one area that you’d like to focus on.


What are two things that you can do in that area? By starting now in early November, then by the time the ball drops on new year’s eve, you’ve already started making shifts and not showing up on January 1st in a deficit. 


It gives you momentum that carries you forward through the year.


Also, take time to celebrate yourself by journaling about your resilience, your continued commitment to walking your pup, you showing up for your team, your humor when zoom glitches out, and so on. 


Have fun with these exercises as they’re an opportunity to dream about possibilities and take action towards them.


Until next time, as always, be gentle and kind to yourself.



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