It is a bridge not a leap!
These are just some of the sentiments I see on social media with regard to last year. And for me too, there were events in 2015 that I’m not sad to be done with such as:
- Bumpy transitions.
- Decisions that didn’t generate the results I hoped for.
- Regretful moments where I reacted with anger.
- Times of sadness or loss.
Today I’m sharing a simple yet valuable exercise to help you turn the experiences of 2015 into incredible information to guide you through 2016 and beyond. I am encouraging you to not just leap from 2015 to 2016, as if you are leaping across a great chasm taking nothing but yourself. Instead, let’s create a sure and steady bridge to take you from one year into the next. This exercise can also be done at your birthday or during any kind of transition.
Why? Because every experience, no matter how we label it or how badly we desire to leave it behind, is rich with important learning we can use going forward. I’m not suggesting you carry all the pain or raw emotion with you (and only you know when you are ready to transition out of it), but instead reflect on all the lessons or nuggets that can only be discerned with distance.
Learning Bridge Exercise
- With a paper and pen next to you, sit quietly and reflect on the past year as if you are looking down on it from the seat of an airplane – a 30,000-foot view if you will.
- Notice the events or primary feelings that come forward. The events or feelings that arise may be positive, negative, or a mix of both. Don’t think about them or spend time judging them. Just accept what arises as valuable.
- As each memory comes into your mind, don’t dwell on it, but instead jot down a few words to describe it. Example: “End of relationship with ___” or “Argument with boss” or “Turned down for promotion” or “Ran a 5k race” or “Sprained my ankle” or “Celebrated turning 50”.
- After you capture each experience in words, let that memory go as if it were on a conveyer belt. Then become aware of what comes forward next, and capture that one.
- Spend as much time as you need until you feel your list is relatively complete. Don’t worry about the length of your list. Additional memories may surface as you go through the next step.
- Now, start at the top of your list. Next to each memory or event, write down what you learned about yourself through that experience.
- If, as you are writing what you learned another event is triggered, capture it at the bottom of your list and return to where you were.
- When your list feels complete or satisfactory, review your learning list and circle whatever key learning’s you want to carry forward to the next year.
Some of the words or phrases circled will be great fodder for goals or areas to grow. Some you may recognize as patterns of behavior repeated time and time again - always generating the same result. Excellent to work with a coach on unraveling and creating new patterns!
Others are “ah-ha’s” – a deeper understanding of who you authentically are in the world and how you desire to live your life.
And still others will provide you with insight into areas where setting boundaries will educate others about how you want to be treated and ultimately bring you greater joy and deeper, more meaningful connections.
Don’t be concerned about categorizing memories into family, friends, work, etc. Instead put yourself in the center and be aware the overlaps. Overlaps give us insight into core patterns of behavior that manifest in all areas of our lives. For example, having a blow-up with a family member because you are exhausted and resentful from trying to please all the time and then realizing you also feel taken advantage of and resentful at work indicates a pattern of behavior where you don’t sent clear boundaries or care for yourself first.
- Notice what is revealed and set some action steps for growth, clearing out patterns that don’t serve you, and enhancing your understanding of who you are in the world!
Savor this exercise. Allow it to be simple, fun and exciting. Information is empowerment. Download this exercise.
Enjoy your walk across the bridge!
If you’d like to explore this exercise a little deeper, shine a spotlight onto patterns and connections and develop action items schedule a Learning Bridge Session. I have a few slots available. Sessions can be done by phone, on Skype or in person.